India – Does my power of attorney need to be stamped with an apostille?

Sending a power of attorney to India

One of our most common requests for assistance is with the power of attorney intended for use in India, and one of the most frequently asked questions is whether the power of attorney must be stamped with an apostille. The answer to that question is both simple and complicated – read on.

What’s an apostille?

Basically, an apostille is an ‘internationally-recognised’ stamp that will be accepted/required by countries that are members of the Apostille Convention. Both India and Australia are members of the Apostille Convention which means that ‘technically’ documents from Australia must be stamped with an apostille before they will be accepted in India.

Obtaining an apostille generally means that the document must be an original public document (ie, an Australian government document) or a document that has been notarised in Australia (ie, a document that’s been signed and sealed by a notary public). All documents must be submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which is the issuing authority for the apostille in Australia, in order to be stamped with an apostille.

How is an apostille relevant to my power of attorney?

According to the Apostille Convention, if you’re signing your power of attorney in Australia but it’s intended to be used in India, then your power of attorney must be signed in front of a notary public and then stamped with an apostille.

If your lawyer in India has asked you to have your power of attorney attested by the Indian Consulate (which is processed by VFS) and you’re an Australian citizen, then a requirement of VFS is that your power of attorney is also notarised and has been stamped with an apostille. Just be aware that according to the Apostille Convention, attestation by the Indian Consulate is not ‘technically’ required after your power of attorney has been stamped with an apostille, and VFS will require you to sign a disclaimer acknowledging that fact as well. VFS also have a number of other requirements that you must satisfy before they’ll arrange for the Indian Consulate attestation, so it’s important to read through their various checklist and requirements as listed on their website.

… why did we say ‘technically’?

Despite what the Apostille Convention states (or any other law or international treaty for that matter), what you do and what will be accepted is ultimately determined by your lawyer in India or the recipient of your power of attorney.

At the end of the day, you just need your power of attorney to be accepted in India. So if your lawyer or the recipient of your power of attorney just want notarisation, then perhaps that’s all you should do. Or if they want an apostille, then that’s what you should do. If they want attestation by the Indian Consulate, then that’s what you should do.

There’s little benefit in arguing over their requirements despite what the law or international treaties (like the Apostille Convention) state, especially if they’re not aware of it or don’t recognise it or accept that it applies. In many cases, your lawyer or recipient in India will ask for Indian Consulate attestation because that’s often the default perception of a requirement, especially if they’re not familiar with international law or treaties such as the Apostille Convention.

We also don’t recommend suggesting any of these steps either as there’s often a tendency for people who are unfamiliar or unsure to just direct you to ‘get everything’, which then increases the time and cost unnecessarily. This is the very reason why VFS will ask you to sign that disclaimer acknowledging that Indian Consulate attestation is not required once your power of attorney has been stamped with an apostille, but that they’re offering that service because you requested it.

So what’s the simple answer?

The simple answer is to follow the instructions set by your lawyer or the recipient in India. In our experience, too many people don’t know and just guess what’s required. At least you’ll be comforted by the fact that whatever you do or you’ve been asked to do, the first step is ALWAYS notarisation.

If you live in Australia but you’re sending a power of attorney to India, then you must sign it in front of a notary public in order to have your power of attorney notarised. Once you’ve done that, you can then decide whether to just send that notarised power of attorney to India, which is what the majority of our clients actually do, or whether you need the apostille (to be technically correct) and/or attestation by the Indian Consulate (to satisfy your lawyer or recipient’s request).

As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we assist many clients by witnessing them sign their power of attorney, notarising their power of attorney, and then arranging for their power of attorney to be stamped with an apostille from DFAT.

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

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.