What is the role of a Notary Public?

What is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is also known in Australia as a Public Notary or Notary. They are senior Solicitors that, in addition to practising in their chosen legal field, are trained in Notarial Practice. In Victoria, these Solicitors have been admitted to the Supreme Court as a Public Notary.

Public Notaries can witness and authenticate documentation so that it is legally valid and recognised overseas, administer oaths and statutory declarations and help confirm a person’s identity.

How can a Notary Public help me?

A Notary’s primary role is to notarise documents so that they are legally valid and recognised in overseas countries. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Certifying copies and execution of legal and business documents
  • Witnessing affidavits, statutory declarations and other documents
  • Administering oaths

Whenever you wish to use a document overseas you will need to employ Notary Public rather than a Justice of the Peace (JP) to witness or certify your documents. The person, company or Government department that requested your documents be notarised can help you determine whether you require the services of a Notary or a JP.

Should I use a Notary Public or a Justice of the Peace? What is the difference?

Deciding whether to use a Notary Public or a Justice of the Peace depends on the end-use and destination of your documents.

A Notary Public is a Solicitor who has been educated in Notarial Practice and admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria as a Notary. In contrast, a JP is a volunteer of good character and standing in the community who has been appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney-General.

All Notaries Public can provide the same services as a JP but they also have their own signature and Official Notarial Seal that is recognised in Australian, foreign and International courts. It’s important to note that the services of JPs are only recognised within Australia.

Why should I choose you over other Notaries?

We understand how important it is to get documents notarised quickly and efficiently at short notice. Our firm is located conveniently in the heart of Melbourne or alternatively you can visit us at our second office in the Eastern Suburbs. Each office is within walking distance from public transport and has parking facilities in close proximity.

Our extensive experience in liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), consulates and embassies allows us to provide a cost effective notarial service to local businesses, international companies and private individuals.

We are available 7 days a week to notarise your documents and are well-versed with the documents and processes from many different countries. In return, many embassies and consulates are already familiar with our Notary’s Official Seal and signature.

What is an Apostille?

An Apostille is simply a certificate. It shows that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has verified the signature and seal of the Public Notary that has notarised the document upon which is attached the Apostille. An Apostille is only needed for documents destined for countries that have signed The Hague Apostille Convention (Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents).

Alternatively, if a country is not a signatory to The Hague Apostille Convention, the documents may need to be “authenticated” by DFAT after they have been notarised by a Notary Public.

To find out more, you can visit:
DFAT’s Website (Apostilles, authentications and Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage)

What is The Hague Apostille Convention?

The Hague Apostille Convention is officially known as The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961, Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. It was drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and has been signed by 92 countries. In Australia, the Convention came into force on 16 March 1995.

Under the Convention, you will no longer need to have your document legalised by an individual country’s diplomatic or consular service if that country has signed the Treaty. Instead, you simply need to present your notarised document to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) which will check that the signature and seal provided by your Notary Public is authentic. Once the Notary’s signature and seal is verified, DFAT will place an Apostille on your document that shows the notarisation is authentic. An Apostille on a document is recognised by all signatory countries.

The Convention states that public documents are considered to be:

  • Documents issued from an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the State
  • Administrative documents prepared by an Administrative Agency or Government Authority
  • Notarial Acts

If you require documents to be legally recognised in countries that are not signatories to the Apostille Convention, you may need to have your documents authenticated by DFAT and by each relevant consulate or embassy.

I am required to have an Apostille. How can I obtain one?

An Apostille is issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for all public and private documents intended for overseas use. A public document is an original document issued by the Australian Government (for example, a birth or marriage certificate), while private documents include contracts and Power of Attorneys. Private documents and copies of public documents will need to notarised by a Notary Public before DFAT will issue an Apostille.

We can help you

Organising to receive an Apostille for your document can be time-consuming and difficult. While you can apply directly to DFAT to receive an Apostille for your documents, our experience and knowledge can help you receive your Apostille quickly, easily and without delays. To receive a quote including the DFAT Apostille fee, please feel free to contact us at any time.

To learn more about the Apostille application process, you can visit:
DFAT’s Website (Apostilles, authentications and Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage)

Can you tell me more about ‘authentication’?

Notarised documents that are sent to countries that have not signed The Hague Apostille Convention may need to be ‘authenticated’ by DFAT so that they legally recognised in these countries. Authentication involves DFAT verifying that the seal and signature on the notarised documents belong to the Notary Public who notarised them.

Before any authenticated documents can be sent overseas, you must present these documents to the relevant consulate or embassy.

We can help you authenticate your documents

Authenticating documents can be complex and take a lot of your valuable time. We can apply to DFAT for ‘authentication’ and present these documents to relevant consulates and embassies on your behalf. For an obligation-free consultation, please feel free to contact us.

To learn more about the authentication application process, you can visit:
DFAT’s Website (Apostilles, authentications and Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage)

Are you recognised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade?

Our Notary is registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT has a copy of our seal and signature, meaning that documents are quickly authenticated and Apostilles are issued in the minimal amount of time. The staff at DFAT and a large amount of consulates and embassies are familiar with our Notary’s signature and seal and professionalism.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Melbourne

To lodge a request for an Apostille or a document to be authenticated, you can visit DFAT in person or mail the documents to the Department. When lodging an application in person the turnaround time is two working days. DFAT is located at:

Australian Passport Office
Authentications Unit
Level 2, 747 Collins Street

Not far from Spencer Street/Southern Cross Station and near tram stop D15)

Alternatively you can post your documents to DFAT, together with your payment and a Notarial Service Request form.

Your documents should be mailed to:

Australian Passport Office
Authentications Unit
GPO Box 1588

Do you offer any other additional services?

In addition to providing notarial services, we offer professional legal advice in these key areas:

  • Wills and Estates including Testator Family Maintenance Claims (Part IV Claims)
  • Powers of Attorney