Guide to Australian notary services

Posted by VisaTEC Legal | May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

Guide to Australian notary services

Notaries have a limited role within Australia but when certain documents are required to be presented in a foreign country, notary services Melbourne, or notary public services become relevant. Although, in general terms, the duties performed by a notary are similar to that of attorneys, the work of notaries has an expanded scope when compared with attorneys. Further, the level of authority and the type of documents that a notary can handle may also vary from one state to the other within Australia.

Appointment of notaries in Australia

The state legislation appoints notaries in Australia, except in the case of Queensland where the Archbishop's Court is invested with the authority to appoint notaries. In other states, the Supreme Court is empowered to appoint the notaries. Generally, only legal professionals with extensive experience are admitted to the position of notaries and incumbents would also be required to demonstrate their knowledge for practising in the capacity of a notary, apart from explaining the need for such an appointment.

Students aspiring to pursue higher learning in universities abroad, businesses that may have trade disputes in a foreign land generally will seek notary public services to comply with the stipulations of foreign governments or authorities. Intending candidates can easily find many accredited individuals to provide notary public services for various documents across the Australian jurisdiction.

Different ways of expressing a notary service

Notary public services may be expressed as notary international, document services, and notary public services Melbourne, etc. but all of them refer to a public officer appointed by a legally constituted authority like the Courts. All of them render identical services to citizens who need notary services connected with non-contentious matters, which are generally related to estates, deeds, international trade, power of attorney etc.

Administering oaths and affirmations, taking affidavits, statutory declarations, authenticating and witnessing the execution of the specified type of documents, acknowledgement of deeds or identical conveyances, bill of exchange etc, constitute the major function of notaries. Mere signature to a document may not at times give the document legal validity and particularly when they relate to international trade or property transactions. But, when these documents are notarized and the notary places his/her distinct seal on the document they become fully valid in Australia and other nations as the nature of the document demands.

History of notarization

The beginning of notarization dates back to the 14th century as part of the English law and Archbishops and similar authorities from the Church were empowered to appoint notary publics. Over the years, the practice was gradually adopted by other nations and the authority to appoint notaries moved from the Church to the courts.

During the 19th century, an event named as the Hague convention in 1961 introduced many changes to the requirement for the legalisation of documents that originated in a foreign land.

In turn, the need for legalisation and notarization was extinguished in many jurisdictions. Nevertheless, certain nations like China refused to subscribe to the Hague convention and therefore legalisation and notarization continue to be in force in nations that were not a party to the Hague convention. However, with the introduction of the digital age, authenticating documents became more convenient and the role of notaries shrank further.

What do notaries do?

The function of notaries differs vastly from attorneys in many jurisdictions through the duties performed by notaries are similar to that of attorneys who create documents and advise clients. In the United States of America, however, notaries are barred from creating documents or advising clients. State laws within the USA may also prohibit them from issuing specific signs of documents or signing certain documents, particularly when they concern foreigners.

In Australia, there is no specific statement or definition of the role of a notary public. The English law, on the other hand, specifies a wide array of functions for the notary public. Consequently, notaries following the English Law may function related to international trade and shipping.

But, advanced communication systems and digital access to a wide range of information, again reduced the scope of services rendered by a notary public. But, for students seeking higher learning in foreign Universities and immigrants, notarization continues to be relevant for completing the documentation process.

Apostilles and legalisation

The legalisation was necessary for several contexts for documents that were executed in foreign nations, before the introduction of the Hague convention in 1961. This process involved a chain of authentications/verifications and multiple authorities, appointments, signatures and other relevant details to validate documents. But, the Hague convention brought about a sea change to these requirements and legalisation as totally abolished.

At the same time, Apostilles were introduced by the Hague convention and stipulated that a designated authority from the Government, recognized by foreign governments affix their seal and signature to the documents to validate them. The department of trade and foreign affairs was consequently empowered to issue Apostilles. Notice, however, that, for countries that did not subscribe to the Hague convention, the legalisation requirements may still be in force.

An apostille in effect certifies the notary public who has signed the document has been duly appointed under Government authority. Documents accompanying the apostille are signed by the notary public along with his seal and attach any certificates that may be required to be produced by them.

Thus, the notary public authenticates/witnesses as well as certify the document when appropriate and attached in compliance with conditions stipulated under the relevant laws of the nation receiving the documents.

The singular intent of an Apostille is confirming the appointment of the notary. A notarized document with an Apostille attached presents a very impressive appearance with combined seals of the notary and the Department of Foreign affairs making it a binding document, secured further by an official green tape.

Seal of a notary

All notarized documents should mandatorily carry a distinct seal of the notary. Most notaries have a metal seal with his/her name inscribed with the place of appointment. All documents notarized should carry this seal and often an adhesive paper in red colour is employed to ensure that there is an attractive and clear impression of the seal is available on the document.

When an authorized department provides an Apostille to a notary, he/she will be required to present evidence from an appropriate court to signify his/her appointment in the capacity of a notary and such evidence is presented along with the seal and signature of the notary for the department to verify the submission before issuing the Apostille.

The Apostille is recognized even in countries that have not subscribed to the Hague Convention, subject to the particular notary public having registered with the embassy of the nation that is accepting the documents.


A notarized document enhances the legal validity of a document though, in many contexts, other forms of whetting have overtaken the significance of notarization. Yet, real-estate and education in foreign Universities are two distinct segments where notarization may still be relevant.

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