Role And Duties of Notaries in Australia

Posted by VisaTEC Legal | Jan 24, 2020 | 0 Comments


Most notary public services, notarisation offices and digital notarisation in Australia are focused on approving and providing notary attestation to allow for documents to be used in foreign nations. 

Notary public services in Australia constitute legal acts allowing written records to be useful in legal or official contexts and purposes. The requirements and range for notarial services are often varied and depend on requirements stipulated by the respective jurisdiction where the notarised document is used. 

A superior court generally appoints the Notary public and the terms ‘public notary' and ‘notary public' can be used interchangeably.

Many of the tasks of notaries in the United States of America, particularly with regard to witnessing execution of documents can be carried out by other designated persons like Justice of Peace and lawyers within Australia.

A justice is empowered to provide services just like the American notaries, but do not hold the qualification for witnessing documents to be used outside Australia. 

Within Australia, common tasks and functions for notaries include:-

  • Authentication of Government, official and personal documents including contracts, or extracts derived from the government registers of Australia like the ASIC's registries can then be used for use outside Australia.
  • Authenticating identity and witnessing signature of individual to certain documents 
  • Certification of the true copies of documents used outside Australia. 

Duties of the notary

  • Notaries must confirm the true identity of the signatory/signatories by examining the identity document carefully. Often, notaries may also seek several identification points and record the information including retaining a copy of the signature by the deponent. Special care will also be taken by notaries while dealing with digital signatures.
  • Assess whether any legal incapacity affects the signatory, including and not limited to dementia, senility, illness, intoxication or duress.
  • Ensure that the signatory understands the effect and nature of the contents of a document.  But, in this context and more significantly, notarising a document does not purport to be legal advice.  
  • Notaries can't advise legal implications of any document they are notarising.  
  • Notaries are also not permitted to prepare documents to be notarised by them nor even have the documents prepared under their supervision. 
  • While notarising documents for a company, the notary should ascertain if the signatory deposing on behalf of the company has appropriate authority to represent the company and sign on its behalf. In most situations a board resolution passed by the company will be called for by the notary to satisfy this condition. When this is not available, the ASIC database may also be used.
  • Notaries are also empowered to refuse their services if a document is suspected to be unlawful, or fraud. 

A notary is required to protect personal information in his possession from unauthorised access, disclosure, modification, loss or misuse. This will apply to all information the notary collects for verifying the deponent's signature and retained in his possession. Such documents will also come under the purview of Privacy Act 1988. 


Often, the seal and signature of notaries may also require legalisation, this involves certification of the seal and signature of a notary by the DFAT or Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and trade.

A certificate will be issued by this authority authenticating and attaching it to the document itself. 

A list of seals and sample signatures of the concerned notary and the officials of the concerned institutions, departments of Australian government are also maintained in the database of the DFAT for the purpose of authenticating the seal and signature of even documents created several years ago. 

Notary services Melbourne, notarization office, notary public service and similar services offering notary services are more relevant to individuals seeking to enforce a document in a jurisdiction outside Australia. 

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