India – Additional documents that need to be notarised
VFS has updated many of their checklists
Have you noticed that VFS has updated many of their checklists? If not, you had better visit their website and download their current checklists. This is going to be especially important if you’re in the middle of submitting applications. If you don’t, your applications may be rejected.
In the past, many documents specified in the checklists could be attested by a justice of the peace. At the end of August 2020, VFS changed the checklist to require people living in New South Wales to have their documents notarised. Notarisation can only be done by a notary public. A justice of the peace is not usually a notary public and therefore they cannot notarise your documents. For example, previously you could submit a copy of your passport attested by a justice of the peace. Now, your passport must be attested by a notary public. Attestation by a notary public is notarisation.
Is there a cost for notary attestation?
In short, yes. While a justice of the peace is a community service and free of charge, notary public services are not. Notarisaiton or attestation by a notary public will usually attract a fee. While there’s a recommended schedule of fees for notary public services, different notaries may charge different fees for different documents. This just means your applications to VFS will be unavoidably more expensive because of these new requirements.
What’s the difference between a notary public and a justice of the peace?
A notary public is a senior lawyer with additional qualifications. They usually assist with documents from Australia being used in other countries. For example, an Indian power of attorney signed in Australia must be signed in front of a notary public.
On the other hand, a justice of the peace generally isn’t a lawyer and there aren’t any professional requirements to be appointed as a justice of the peace. A justice of the peace is a volunteer community service, which is why it’s also a free service. Documents attested by a justice of the peace are generally only acceptable for use in Australia. For example, if you’re signing a statutory declaration for the Australian government, then usually you would sign that in front of a justice of the peace (or some other authorised witness accepted in Australia).
Documents intended for VFS
VFS provides services on behalf of the Consulate General of India. Technically, this means submitting documents to VFS is like sending your documents to India. Accordingly, documents intended for VFS (or India) should usually be notarised. In the past, VFS was prepared to accept documents attested by a justice of the peace, but that’s now changed – for NSW residents. If you live in New South Wales, and you must submit documents to VFS as part of any application or other purpose, you must now have those documents attested by a notary public.
As a leading provider of notary public services, we assist many clients within the Indian community around Sydney with notarising their various documents to be used in India or to be submitted to VFS. We commonly notarise documents such as the general power of attorney or special power of attorney, FORM J, FORM I and FORM V. These forms cover various passport applications, such as renewals or replacements handled through VFS. We also help with other legal and court documents that must also be stamped and attested by VFS.
Apostille requirements for VFS
India and Australia are both members of the Apostille Convention. This means documents from Australia intended to be used in India generally should be stamped with an apostille. In Australia, the apostille can only be issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT will issue an apostille on original Australian government documents, or documents that have been notarised by a notary public.
If you are sending your documents from Australia to India, then technically, the only requirement is to have your documents stamped with an apostille. However, if you’re submitting documents to VFS (or if requested by your lawyer in India) then sometimes you’ll need an apostille and VFS attestation.
According to the VFS checklists, different requirements apply to Indian citizens and non-Indian citizens. The important difference is the apostille requirement. If you aren’t an Indian citizen, certain documents and applications to VFS require your documents to b stamped with an apostille. This generally means your documents must be notarised first and then stamped with an apostille before they’ll be accepted by VFS.
As part of our notary public services, we assist our clients with obtaining an apostille from DFAT. Our clients must then submit those documents for VFS attestation or send them to India depending on the requirements. If you’re submitting documents stamped with an apostille submitted to VFS, you must also provide VFS with a disclaimer. In the disclaimer, you acknowledge that you’re aware VFS attestation isn’t required once your documents have been stamped with an apostille.
Do you have any questions?
Sending documents from Australia to other countries can be complicated. We make it simple.
If your documents must be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and then legalised, we can help with that too. We've also created a flowchart to explain the process.
So, what's next?
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.
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.