What is a Notary?
A notary is a public officer, usually a practising solicitor or attorney, appointed by a State or Territory Supreme Court, or by an English Archbishop in the case of Queensland, and given statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths, and perform other wide-ranging administrative functions of a national and international nature.
Apart from taking oaths, signs and witness documents for use within Australia, but also performs similar functions with respect to international documents for use outside Australia.
Justices of the Peace (JPs) in Australia provide services similar to American notaries, but are not permitted to witness documents for use in foreign countries, which is why Notaries have this exclusive right and are the only true international "JP's" in the country of Australia.
A Notary Public affixes their official seal (usually impressed onto a red or gold sticker) or stamp, onto documents immediately under, adjacent or as near as possible to their signatures.
All Notaries' seals and signatures are officially recorded in a database held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), an Australian government department authorised to issue an Apostille or Authentication Certificates certifying that the signatures, seals or stamps of Notaries on Australian public documents are genuine.
Public Notaries also have their signatures, seals or stamps registered with their State or Territory Supreme Court to whom they are answerable to, and with their local Notary Society, if one exists in their State or Territory, and if a member.
What Does a Notary Actually Do?
A Notary Public Principally:
- Attests documents and certifies their due execution for use in Australia and overseas countries
- Prepares and certifies powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents, for use in Australia and overseas countries
- Administers oaths for Australian and international documents
- Witnesses signatures to affidavits, statutory declarations, powers of attorney, contracts, and other documents, for use in Australia and overseas countries
- Verifies documents for use in Australia and overseas countries
- Certifies copy documents for use in Australia and overseas countries
- Exemplifies official documents for use internationally
- Notes and protests bills of exchange
- Prepares ships' protests
A Public Notary Must:
- Confirm the true identity of a signatory by careful examination of an identity document, such as a current Driver’s License or Passport
- Determine that a signatory does not suffer any legal incapacity, such as a congenital disability, physical or mental illness, physical injury, advanced age, or apparent intellectual deficiency
- Ensure that a signatory fully understands the nature and effect of the contents of a document to be signed and witnessed
- Ascertain that a signatory acting in an official representative capacity e.g. a secretary or director of an ASIC registered Company , has the Company’s authority to sign on behalf of the Company
- Refuse notary services if a document constitutes a fraud or an unlawful act
Things to Consider Before seeing the Notary
Before seeing a notary it helps to discuss and understand what is required. This is often shown in the requirements of the receiving party or a lawyer abroad. If possible, it may be sensible to fax or email copies of the documents before seeing the notary.
The notary will need to be satisfied as to the identification of those attending before the notary. It is recommended to bring for i, documents of identification such as a passport or driver’s license. A secondary document showing a home address, such as a utility bill or bank statement may also be required.
What You Need to Bring to the Notary
Apart from what was discussed prior, please also be advised the following advice before seeing the Notary:
- Identify evidence that shows a photograph and specimen signature - for example, a current and valid passport or driver license that will confirm your current address. A secondary identity document such as a utility bill may also be required
- Your original documents
- Any instructions you have received from overseas
- If you are signing on behalf of a company or somebody else, all the documents that show you have the authority to sign
VisaTEC Legal Notarial Services
Q: Why have documents notarised?
A: To minimise fraud and forgery, most countries require important commercial or personal documents which originate from, or are signed in, another country to be notarised.
Q: After authentication with a notary's seal and signature, is anything else required?
A: Foreign jurisdictions often also require certification of the notary's seal and signature.
Notarial Services Basics
When a notary is required to witness the signing of a power of attorney or other document for use overseas, the document must be signed in the notary's presence.
Proof of Identity
Effective notarisation requires a notary to verify:
- Signee’s identity
- The Signee understands what was signed
Unless personally known to the notary, signee must be satisfactorily identified with the production of, at least, a current passport or some other document issued by a government department or agency which includes a photograph and specimen signature.
Effective notarisation of company documents ordinarily requires a notary to verify:
- that the company exists; and
- the signer's status within the company; and
- that the signer has authority to sign on the company's behalf.
Often, a notary will require evidence that appropriate corporate governance has been adhered to in relation to the company documents.
Our Notarial Services Include:
- Notarisation of Documents for use Overseas
- Drafting and Notarization of Consent to Travel Documents
- Affidavits for Estate Matters, Courts Cases, Wills & Probate and Litigation Worldwide
- Notarisation of Company and Trade Mark Documents
- Authentication or an Apostille from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Notarial Certificates of Law & Good Standing
- Administration of Oaths for the Giving of Evidence
- Noting and Protesting Bills of Exchange