Notary Public

Notary Public services

A public notary or notary public (both mean the same thing) is a public officer that must be a practicing solicitor appointed for life by a State or Territory Supreme Court and is given statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths, and perform a range of other administrative functions both of a national and international nature.

The seals and signatures of all appointed public notaries are officially recorded onto a database held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT is authorised to issue Apostille or Authentication Certificates, which certify that the signatures, seals or stamp of Public Notaries on Australian public documents are genuine.

A public notary has the following statutory powers:

  • Prepare and certify powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents for use in Australia and internationally
  • Certify copy documents for use in Australia and internationally
  • Administer oaths for Australian and international documents
  • Witness signatures to affidavits, statutory declarations, powers of attorney, contracts and other documents for use in Australia and internationally
  • Verify documents for use in Australia and internationally
  • Attest documents and certify their due execution for use in Australia and internationally
  • Exemplify official documents for use internationally
  • Note and protest bills of exchange
  • Prepare ships’ protests

How does a Public Notary differ from a Justice of the Peace?

A public notary is a public officer of Australia and a Justice of the Peace (JP) is a volunteer of good character. In Australia, a JP will provide a service like American notaries but, unlike a public notary, is not permitted to witness documents for use in foreign countries.

A public notary has this exclusive right to perform functions in respect of international documents for use outside of Australia making them the only true international JP’s in Australia.

The role of a JP is mainly focused on certifying a person’s identity or true copies of original documents or witnessing affidavits and statutory declarations. Whereas a public notary not only does this but also assists with:

  • Overseas trade documentation, e.g. a Letter of Credit
  • Contracts that relate to the sale of foreign property or businesses, or sales with an overseas vendor/purchaser
  • Documents for personal use, such as passports
  • Company constitutions and accompanying documentation
  • Instruments affecting the transfer of land
  • Transcripts/testamurs and citizenship certificates
  • Wills and probate documents involving overseas estates and beneficiaries
  • Documents for international trademark or copyright, patent applications and infringements
  • Paperwork for the consent of a minor to travel overseas without their parents.

Tips before an appointment with a Public Notary

Here are a few tips to consider before meeting a Notary Public:

  • Be able to identify yourself, bring good evidence of identification, such as current and valid passport or driver’s licence that will confirm your current address.
  • Make sure the document to be notarised is correct, complete, and all attachments are available.
  • Send all the documents prior to the appointment if that is possible. If you can scan and send a copy of the document to be provided before your visit, this will save you time and possibly expense, as the notary will be able to properly prepare for the meeting.
  • If the document is not in English, the public notary might require a translation to be obtained before they can process the documents. Alternatively, if the Public Notary needs to verify the signature of the person signing, a translation may not be required.
  • Provide the Notary with instructions you have received from overseas, so the requirements can be satisfied.

How can Bull, Son & Schmidt help?

We provide a notarial service, contact us on 02 9439 5299 to make an appointment today.