What is a Notary Public?

Date: January 9, 2015
Author: admin
Posted in: Insights


Heading overseas in 2015? You may need the services of a notary public. However, unless you’ve previously dealt with one you may not know what a notary public (who may also be referred to as a public notary or even just a notary) is and what they actually do.

A notary public is a public officer (in most cases a practising solicitor) who has been appointed for life by a State or Territory Supreme Court and given statutory powers to take oaths, sign and witness documents for use within Australia as well as perform similar functions in respect of international documents for use outside Australia.

What does a notary public do?

A Notary Public may undertake a variety of administrative functions, including:

  •  Attest documents and certify their due execution for use in Australia and overseas countries;
  • Prepare and certify powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents for use in Australia and overseas countries;
  • Administer oaths for Australian and international documents;
  • Witness signatures to affidavits, statutory declarations, powers of attorney, contracts, and other documents for use in Australia and overseas countries;
  • Verify documents for use in Australia and overseas countries;
  • Certify copy documents for use in Australia and overseas countries; and
  • Exemplifies official documents for use internationally.

When do you need a notary public?

Australian documents sometimes need additional government legalisation before they can be used overseas in order to comply with foreign requirements. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides a number of legalisation services to help Australian documents meet the requirements of foreign governments. If you have an Australian document that needs to be used in a foreign country or by a foreign government, you will need to contact that country’s embassy to check what their requirements are.

Many professionals in Australia (such as solicitors) can witness signatures and certify copies of documents. However, if you are planning on relying on a document overseas, and if the document needs to be legalised by the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs through an authentication or apostille), only documents signed by a notary public (or Australian consular or diplomatic officers overseas) can be accepted.

The services that DFAT can provide depend on whether you and your documents are in Australia, or already overseas.
For more information about notary public services, please contact us. We provide notary public services in both our Sydney and Melbourne offices.

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