Notarial Certificates – Proving your Identity Overseas

If you have at some point in your life changed your name, you may find it difficult to prove your identity, especially when not all of your identification documents show the same name. This is particularly true when you are required to prove your identity outside Australia for personal matters such as property transactions and are not able to be physically present to confirm your identity.

A Notary Public can help you prove your identity by issuing a Notarial Certificate confirming your identity. You may require a Notarial Certificate when you:

  • Use a different name in formal and informal situations
  • Have translated your name from another language into English
  • Carry identification documents where your name appears different ways or sequences
  • Have a maiden and married name
  • Hold dual or multiple citizenship

The advantage of a Notarial Certificate is that it lets a Notary Public identify you in a way that is legally acceptable in the country where you intend to use the certificate. This is especially important when you are based in Australia and do not intend to travel to the other country.

To ensure that the Certificate is notarised so that is legally recognised in the intended country of use, and meets any additional requirements, it is important that you check:

  • the language the Notarial Certificate is to be written in, as some countries have more than one official language – if the document is not in the correct language, you may need to have it translated as required by that country’s government
  • the form and format requirements of legal documents including how documents are to be signed or whether finger/thumb prints are required
  • the legalisation requirements of the country where you would like to use the certificate – this involves finding out whether a document needs to be authenticated or stamped with an Apostille after it has been notarised
  • the fees and the process involved in registering the Notarial Certificate with the relevant authorities so that you can avoid any unnecessary delays and costs.

In order to to obtain a Notarial Certificate, you must visit a Notary Public in person and bring photographic and non-photographic identification so that the Notary can confirm your identity.

If you require a Notarial Certificate on short notice and time is of the essence, it is important to make sure that the document is notarised correctly and meets any other additional criteria so that it not rejected by relevant authorities or takes a longer time to be processed. This includes having the Notarial Certificate taken to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in cases where the certificate is required to be stamped with an Apostille or authenticated in order to be legally recognised.