Producing the ‘right’ photograph identification

Properly proving your identity with photograph identification

In a previous article, we talked about being able to certify someone’s identity in Australia whenever they had to sign legal documents intended to be used in another country.

One of the most common responsibilities that we have as a notary public is the responsibility to identify you. We must be able to properly identify who you are so that we properly take an your oath or affirmation, witness you signing a document and verifying your signature, certifying your identification or just to be able to confirm that you are our client and we provided you with notary public services. Regardless of whether it arises from our notary public services or not, as a general protocol in our legal office we will require you to provide photograph identification to prove your identity.

Proof of identity is nothing new. If you walked into a bank or government office, you might need to provide what is known as ‘100-points of ID’, with different forms of identification being worth different points. Unlike other countries that have some sort of personal identification card or unique identifier, Australia does not have a common form of national identification. Probably the most widely accepted form of identification is the drivers licence, even though not everyone is required to drive or necessarily carries a drivers licence – and in our experience, we have found that even the details contained in the drivers licence are at times less than accurate as well.

When it comes to signing documents for overseas, we will require you to bring photograph identification to prove your identity, and even if you provide sufficient evidence to confirm who you are, you need to check your documents to make sure that the document is not actually asking you to provide more specific details or information that may only exist on specific identification documents.

For example, we will accept an Australian drivers licence as a satisfactory form of identification for our legal office purposes. We do not require ‘100-points of ID’. However, if you need us to witness your signature on a document which specifically refers to your passport number, then producing your Australian drivers licence alone will not be enough. You will need to produce your passport showing the same passport number. Or if the name that appears on your drivers licence is different from the name on your document (and there can be many reasons for this to be the case), then the drivers licence is not going to be sufficient evidence of your identity for the purpose of having that document notarised.

If your document is intended to be used in a country which has its own form of national identification card or number, then you will need to not only produce your local or internationally accepted form of photograph identification (such as an Australian drivers licence or a passport) but you will also need to produce the relevant national identification card bearing the details that appear on your document. As a matter of protocol, we retain copies of the identification documents produced so that if we are asked by any person relying on a document that we have notarised, we are able to confirm what form of identification was produced at the time of notarisation as proof of your identity.

Expired photograph identification

From time to time, clients have provided expired photograph identification (with a variety of explanations and reasons). In general, we understand why certain photograph identification may expire or become invalid and for the most part if that identification document is recent – we will still accept it satisfactory proof of identification for our purposes. However, if we are relying on that identification document to notarise documents, we will declare on the document being notarised that the identification document used as proof of identity was an expired identification document.

If you provide an expired identification document, and the photograph appearing in that document does not look like you (ie, in your photograph you look younger, you look slimmer, your hair is not grey or you have hair – all of which is very likely) we may not accept that as sufficient proof of your identity and we will (politely) ask you to provide something more current and preferably still valid. Unfortunately, each identification document (and photograph) will need to be assessed on a case by case basis.

No photograph identification

In instances when clients have not been able to provide photographic identification, we will generally refuse to verify identity or notarise any documents – and only in exceptional circumstances will we accept multiple non-photograph identification documents as sufficient proof of identity. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not have photographic identification for whatever reason but you still require notary public services, it is best for you to contact our office to discuss your situation and to determine whether we can still assist you or notarise your documents.

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Do you have any questions?

Sending documents from Australia to other countries can be complicated. We make it simple.

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So, what's next?

Visit our Notary Fees page for a free quote for our notary public services. Otherwise, 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. We're 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.

Our office is 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 on this website is for general purposes only and correct at the time of publication. Only rely on information and advice that is specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.