Confirming personal identity for overseas legal documents

Verifying your identity for overseas use

As a busy legal practice with clients overseas, one of our biggest challenges is ensuring that our clients sign (and we can prove that they have signed) legal documents in a way that will be valid in Australia. Generally, we will direct our clients to verify their identity by signing those legal documents in front of a public notary in their current resident country.

The role of a public notary is like an ‘international justice of the peace’, and accordingly, a public notary will often be tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the person named in the legal documents or the person supposed to sign those legal documents is the person who has signed them. Certification by a public notary is a widely accepted form of proof recognised by most countries around the world.

In the same way, if you are in Australia but you need to sign legal documents intended for another country, you should probably be signing those legal documents in front of a public notary in Australia – or as otherwise directed by your lawyer in that country as to what is considered legally valid or acceptable.

Whenever clients ask us to witness their signature on legal documents intended to be used overseas, we will witness their signature and verify their identity according to their photograph identification – generally either their passport or their Australian drivers licence. If the legal documents that they are signing refer to a specific identification document, then we ask our clients to bring that specific identification document as well.

Aside from us witnessing our client’s signature and signing and sealing (notarising) the legal documents, some legal documents must also be authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or stamped with an apostille, or authenticated by the relevant foreign office of the intended destination country.

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Do you have any questions regarding this article?

Whether you're notarising a document for the first time or the hundreth time, the requirements, processes, and terms can be confusing and daunting - or just a pain and a hassle (especially if you need an apostille, or to authenticate or legalise as well). Don't worry! We're here to simplify it, explain it, and help you with what you need to achieve it.

Contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about our notary public services. We've also created a flowchart to help explain notarisation, apostille, authentication and legalisation.

So, what's next?

Visit our Notary Fees page for a free quote for our notary public services or just call us on +61 2 9687 8885 to speak with our friendly team about your requirements.

Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?

We're a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney known for our experience and expertise in notarising documents for other countries, our low-cost fixed fees and service offering, and our availability to help on short notice. With our offices conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area, we help clients from across Sydney and beyond with personal, professional and timely notary public services.

Ern Phang, Notary Public
Ern Phang
Notary Public

This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique law firm in Parramatta and a leading provider of quality notary public services to satisfied clients across Sydney.

Ern Phang is a director of Phang Legal and a notary public (since 2005). Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public and the issues faced by his clients in sending documents to other countries.

All information contained in this article is for general purposes only and correct at the time of publication. Only rely on information and advice specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.