What is the Role of DFAT?

Notaries and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Notaries work together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to help ensure that their clients’ documents are recognised legally throughout the world.

In Victoria, a Notary Public (also known as a Notary or a Public Notary) is a senior Solicitor who has undertaken additional training in Notarial Practice and has been admitted to the Supreme Court as a Notary Public. Notaries have an Official Seal that is recognised in Australian, foreign and International courts. In order for a Notary’s signature and Official Seal to be legally recognised, Notaries need to work with DFAT in accordance with The Hague Apostille Convention. The Convention is formally known as The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961, Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. This means that you no longer need to work with the consular or diplomatic services of individual signatory countries to have your public documents legally recognised in that specific country.

Under The Hague Apostille Convention, DFAT has to verify the signature and Official Notarial Seal which has been applied to documents to ensure that they match the signature and seal of a practising Public Notary. After the Seal and signature are verified, DFAT issues a certificate/stamp that is called an Apostille. Each Apostille is numbered, dated, lists the name of the Notary and includes DFAT’s seal and stamp. For a document to receive an Apostille, each page of the document must be notarised by the same Notary Public. If your document consists of multiple pages, a Notary can bind the pages together in line with the specifications provided by DFAT. Once the notarised public document meets the specifications set out by DFAT, the Notary can liaise with DFAT on your behalf to ensure that the document receives an Apostille and is recognised legally throughout the world.