Why do I need a Notary Public ?

In order to use certain documents in a jurisdiction outside Australia, you may be required to have such documents legalised for use in that country. The rationale behind this is that individuals, organisations and government authorities want to know that a document or signature is authentic and when a document comes from another country, they may want an international certification. This is where a notary public comes in. Notary publics have the authority to authenticate and witness documents and signatures on documents. Further steps in the legalisation process shall need to be carried out in order for the document to be used outside Australia.

What is a Notary Public?

A notary public, or notary, is a public officer, usually appointed by a State or Territory Supreme Court, and given statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths, and perform other legal functions of a national and international nature.

A Justice of the Peace or solicitor in Australia may provide similar services, with the clear distinction that they are not allowed to witness documents for use in foreign countries. Notaries have this exclusive right and are the only true international solicitor in Australia.
All Notaries’ seals and signatures must be officially recorded in a data base held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), who is authorised to issue apostille or authentication certificates certifying that the signatures, seals or stamps of Notaries on documents are authentic.

In order to apply to be a Victorian Notary Public, you must be a Victorian Lawyer with at least 5 years of experience and have completed the prescribed Notarial Practice Course. The applicant may then apply to the Legal Profession Admission Board (the Board). Upon appointment, the name of the notary is entered on the Roll of Public Notaries maintained by the Board.

What is the difference between notarising documents for individuals and companies?

If a document is to be signed by an individual and witnessed by a notary public, the notary public shall need to verify the identification of the individual. This is a simple matter of the individual bringing 100 points of identification (such as a current drivers licence or passport) to the appointment. Please note that the notary shall require you to bring in original identification documents and it is at the sole discretion of the notary as to whether they accept the identification.

If the document is to be signed by an authorised representative of a company, the authorised representative shall need to bring 100 points of identification and also documentation evidencing that that they are authorised to sign documents on behalf of the company. It is up to the notary to determine whether the evidence given is sufficient, and the notary may refuse to attest the signature of the authorised signatory in the event that they not satisfied.

Please be aware the notary shall need to make and keep copies of the identification and authority documents for our records.

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

You will need to bring with you:

  • 1. 100 points of identification such as a current passport or drivers license;
  • 2. Original documents to be authenticated, certified as true copy or witnessed.

If you are signing documents for and behalf of a corporate entity, you shall need to additionally bring with you original documents to show that you are authorised to execute documents for such entity.

Can you come to my home/office?

Yes. If you wish, we can attend your office or home to notarise documents. However, hourly rates shall apply for travel time.

Do I need to come into your office?

If you require us to witness your signature on a document, we shall need to see you in person. If you require us to authenticate a document or certify a document as a true copy of an original, it is preferable if we can see you in person, however, you may instruct us from overseas and we shall not need to see you in person.

Can you assist with the process from start to finish?

Yes. We have the expertise to assist with the process from end-to-end. We can:

  • 1. Draft Powers of Attorney, proxies or board resolutions (if necessary);
  • 2. Assist with translation of documents (if necessary);
  • 3. Authenticate or witness signatures on documents;
  • 4. Present the documents to DFAT for legalisation or an apostille certificate (if necessary);
  • 5. Present the documents to the relevant embassy or consulate for attestation (if necessary); and
  • 6. Forward the documents to your location anywhere across the globe (if necessary).

Are there different legalisation requirements for different countries?

Yes. The legalisation process may require 3 different processes as follows (depending on the country where the document is to be used):

  • (a) British dominions – if a document is to be legalised for use in a British dominion, the only legalisation requirement should be notarisation by an Australian notary public. Countries in the British dominion include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island.
  • (b) Hague Convention Countries – if a document is to be legalised for use in a Hague Convention Country (a country that has signed onto the Hague Convention), the document should first be notarised, before it is taken to DFAT for an apostille certificate. Click here for an updated list on Hague Convention Countries
  • (c) Non-Hague Convention Countries – If a document is to be legalised in a non-Hague Convention Country (i.e. a country not on the list above such as the United Arab Emirates) the document shall need to be notarised, taken to DFAT and legalised and then the document shall need to be presented to the relevant embassy or consulate for attestation.

Please note that the above three steps are what one would generally expect to have to carry out in order to legalise your documents. However, different embassies or consulates may require additional documents or steps to be carried out. The above is only a basic guide. Please give us a call for a free consultation to work out exactly what steps you shall need to take.

How long will it take to get my documents legalised?

This will depend on:

  • (a) What you need legalised – if you require us to draft documents for you, we will need to receive your instructions and draft the requisite documents.
  • (b) Translation – if translation is required, this adds an additional step, which will take more time. We can arrange for a NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators) translator to translate the document on your behalf.
  • (c) The country the document will be used in – if the document is to be used (i) in a British Dominion, once the document is notarised it may be ready for use in a British Dominion (ii) in a Hague Convention country, once the document has been notarised, you shall only need for the document to be apostilled at DFAT or (iii) in a non-Hague Convention Country, you shall need the document to be legalised at DFAT and then the document shall need to go to the relevant embassy or consulate for attestation.
  • (d) If you instruct us on an urgent basis – if you wish for us to legalise the document on an urgent basis, we shall endeavour to push the process through at an accelerated rate. Additional fees and disbursements shall apply accordingly.
  • (e) If you are overseas – if you are overseas this shall take additional time as we shall need to receive documents to be authenticated, carry out the legalisation process and then forward the legalised documents back to you.
  • (f) Legalisation requirements in the country of use – there may be additional legalisation requirements that need to be carried out in the country of use, prior to you being able to use it there. These requirements vary from country to country.Please give us a call so that we can give you an estimate on how long the process should take on an urgent or non-urgent basis.

I am planning on moving overseas to live as an expat – what documents might I need?

If you are planning on travelling abroad to live the expat dream you may need certain documents legalised for use in that country. For instance, if you are married and moving to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with your spouse, you should take a fully legalised copy of your marriage certificate with you. This is so that you may show the authorities there that you are legally married, and as such, allowed to live together. It is against the laws of the UAE for an unmarried couple to live together.

Just as important as your marriage certificate, you should arrange to have your credentials notarised and fully legalised for use in the United Arab Emirates. Prior to commencement of employment in the UAE, your employer may need to submit your fully legalised credentials to the UAE Department of Immigration in order to obtain your visa.


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808 Pascoe Vale Road, Glenroy, VIC, 3046

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Melbourne CBD

Level 24, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

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