An Australian Notary Public – also known as a Public Notary or a Notary – is an appointment made by their State or Territory’s Supreme Court with statutory powers to draft and certify domestic and international documents.
Whilst most notaries are legal practitioners, not all lawyers are notaries. Unlike lawyers, notaries must act in the interest of the transaction as a whole to ensure its integrity.
Notaries have a unique seal that is recorded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and this seal is affixed to documents as close as practical to their signature. Unlike other countries, the commission of Notary Public does not expire and thus, notaries (subject to legislative requirements) hold their office for life.
What type of documents can they sign?
A notary can assist with the following:
- Witness the execution of contracts, documents and certificates for international use.
- Witness the execution of affidavits, powers of attorney and statutory declarations for international use.
- Certify original copies of documents for international use.
- Note and protests of bills of exchange.
- Prepare ships’ protests.
A notary must also ensure that:
- The person is who they say they are – usually by examining a passport, driver’s licence or other identity document.
- That the signatory is not in any way legally incapacitated, through any intellectual disability, mental or physical illness or any other such condition that would preclude them from making decisions.
- That the signatory fully understands the documents being signed, including their intention and effect.
- That a signatory who is acting on behalf of an organisation, company or as an official representative has the authority to do so.
- Notarial services are refused if a document is fraudulent or unlawful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to make an appointment to see a notary?
Yes. Unlike a JP that may allow you to ‘drop-in’, you will need to call and make an appointment prior to seeing a notary.
What should I bring to my appointment?
You need to bring the document in question, plus photographic identification such as a passport and driver’s licence.
I have a document that is written in another language. What should I do?
You will need to check with the notary to see if a translation is required.