Can an accountant witness my signature or certify my documents?
It depends. An accountant may be able to witness your signature or certify your documents depending on where your documents are going to be used.
Sometimes referred to as a ‘prescribed witness’, ‘qualified witness’ or an ‘authorised witness’, a person who is authorised to witness signatures or certify documents depends on whether you are using your documents in New South Wales (or any other state in Australia) for state purposes, in or across Australia for Commonwealth purposes, or overseas in another country.
Where are you going to be using your documents?
If you live in New South Wales and you want to use your documents in New South Wales, then in most cases you will need to sign your documents or have them certified by a justice of the peace. You can also use a lawyer or a notary public, but unlike a justice of the peace which is a free service, it is likely that you will need to pay for using the services of a lawyer or notary public.
If you live in New South Wales or any other state in Australia, and you want to use your documents in Australia, then there is a long list of people who can witness or certify your documents for Commonwealth purposes – and this includes an accountant. By comparison, the number of people who can witness or certify your documents for use in New South Wales is relatively limited.
If you live in Australia and you want to use your documents in another country, then you generally must have your documents notarised by a notary public. This means if your signature must be witnessed, then your signature must be witnessed by the notary public or if your documents must be certified, then your documents must be certified by the notary public.
Do your documents need to be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and legalised?
If you are sending your documents to another country overseas and you have been asked for your documents to be stamped with an apostille or authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), then your documents must be notarised by a notary public. DFAT does not accept documents signed by other prescribed, qualified or authorised witnesses.
Who can witness my signature or certify my documents?
Is an accountant a notary public?
No, an accountant is generally not a notary public in Australia.
In Australia, a notary public is a senior lawyer who has completed further qualifications to be admitted as a notary public. This means they have been a practising lawyer for many years and completed further studies before they can become a notary public. Accordingly, an accountant would not be a notary public unless they are also a practising lawyer and have satisfied the requirements (experience and qualifications) to become a notary public as well.
Other FAQs regarding our notary public services
If you have any other questions regarding our notary public services, please contact us or browse our other frequently asked questions:
- What’s a ‘notary public’?
- What does a notary public do?
- What’s the difference between a notary public and a justice of the peace?
- What’s the difference between a notary and a commissioner of oaths?
- What makes you different from other notaries?
- What’s an ‘apostille’?
- What’s the Apostille Convention?
- I’ve been told I need an apostille. Where and how do I get it?
- What’s ‘authentication’?
- Are you recognised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade?
- What’s your experience in providing notary public services?
- Do you provide any services other than notary services?
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.