Can’t find a Justice of the Peace right now?
You can use a notary public instead of a justice of the peace
One of the big challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, largely because of the subsequent quarantine/isolation and travel restrictions, is that people just can’t find a justice of the peace when they need one to witness or certify their documents.
Even though notary public services are usually intended for documents that are going to be sent overseas and not used locally in Australia, a notary public can still witness or certify documents being used in Australia as well.
What’s the difference between a notary public and a justice of the peace?
The main difference between using a notary public and a justice of the peace for documents used in Australia is the cost. A justice of the peace offers their services for free and without charge while a notary public is entitled to and will generally charge a fee for their notary public service.
Other differences between a notary public and a justice of the peace include:
- A notary public in Australia but be a lawyer. A justice of the peace in Australia doesn’t have to be and most likely wouldn’t be a lawyer (or even if a lawyer were also a justice of the peace, they would probably offer their services as a lawyer rather than as a justice of the peace).
- A notary public normally signs documents for use outside of Australia. A notary public can also sign documents for use in Australia. Generally, a justice of the peace can only sign documents for use in Australia and likely that a justice of the peace wouldn’t be recognised by other countries (depending on the country and the requirements).
- A notary public will be recognised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). If your document must also be stamped with an apostille or be authenticated for use overseas, it must be signed by a notary public. DFAT will not recognise a justice of the peace.
- A notary public, being a lawyer, can provide legal advice if necessary. A justice of the peace cannot provide legal advice if they’re not a lawyer. If you need legal advice, whether related to your document or not, then you should seek advice from a lawyer or a notary public and not a justice of the peace.
Where can you usually find a justice of the peace?
You can find a justice of the peace on the JP Public Register.
Otherwise, you may also find them at public and community places, like the courthouse, the public library, some council offices, or even in shopping centres. Despite being a free service or perhaps because it’s a free service, finding a justice of the peace to witness or certify your documents seem to be a bit challenging right now in the midst of the global pandemic.
Who else can witness or certify your documents?
Depending on what your document is or where you are going to be using your document, there are other kinds of authorised witnesses available in New South Wales and across Australia.
If you must have your signature witnessed or you must have your documents certified urgently and you can’t find a justice of the peace, you can also consider witnessing or certifying your documents through a notary public service like ours.
In many cases, people have come to us for our notary public services because they haven’t been able to find a justice of the peace who is available and able to witness their signature or certify their documents.
What kinds of documents can we witness or certify?
The kinds of documents we’ve been asked to sign include:
- Statutory declarations or affidavits
- Copies of passports, Australian drivers licences, Medicare cards
- Government forms requiring declarations
As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we’re often approached by people who are sending their documents overseas as well as people who are using their documents within Australia but can’t find a justice of the peace to help them. We will help – that’s what we do.
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?
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.
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.