I want an apostille now!
What’s a realistic expectation when it comes to getting an apostille?
We never over-promise and under-deliver. Sometimes this means we tell people what they don’t want to hear – like that it’s highly unlikely that they can get an apostille on their document immediately. Unfortunately, it probably also means we miss out on helping some people because they don’t accept our realistic estimate for processing times.
In Australia, the apostille is issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and can only be issued by DFAT. Previously, you could visit the DFAT office in Sydney (ie, the Sydney Passports Office) without an appointment for over-the-counter service to apply for the apostille and have it issued on the spot. That’s no longer the case.
Now, if you want an apostille you must either make an appointment (through an online booking system) or by calling (if the switchboard answers the phone), or by sending your documents to them by post. However, all of these methods suggest that you’re not going to get your apostille immediately.
What are our processing times for the apostille?
As of 1 July 2021 (mid-pandemic), our processing times for the apostille (and authentications) through DFAT is 1-2 weeks. This means it’s possible that we can have your documents returned to you within a week or even faster at times, but it’s not something that we’re going to promise since this relies on DFAT processing and not our own.
Ultimately, this is all subject to government processing. Sometimes they have a backlog, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they have more staff, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there are public holidays, sometimes there aren’t. There are various reasons why DFAT processing may be quick and just as many for it to be slow.
For our clients, most ask us to assist them with obtaining the apostille since many don’t want to deal with the time or the hassle of doing it themselves. For those that prefer to do it themselves, or they’re under time pressures that don’t fit within our processing times, we encourage them to make their own enquiries.
Why do other services promise faster processing times?
It doesn’t matter where you go, all paths eventually lead back to DFAT. Since only DFAT can issue the apostille in Australia, everyone will be subject to DFAT’s processing times – not just us. Perhaps other services only promote the quickest possible turnaround rather than acknowledge that turnaround times can vary and that delays are possible. Regardless of whether someone else promises to obtain an apostille faster than anyone else (including DFAT) you should still be prepared to allow the 1-2 week processing time that we’ve already suggested. That’s just our word of warning to ensure that your expectations are properly adjusted to meet reality.
Are there exceptional circumstances?
We never say never. If you’re able to contact the Authentications Section at the Sydney Passports Office/DFAT and explain that there are exceptional circumstances that justify them processing your documents urgently – then maybe you’ll be able to have your documents stamped with an apostille immediately (provided you make the trip to visit their offices). If you cannot contact them by phone as they’re sometimes difficult to get a hold of, perhaps the best way is to email them directly firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
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.