Who can authenticate a document in Australia?
If you’re signing a document in Australia or you have documents that were issued in Australia and you want to use them in another country, it’s likely that you must arrange for those documents to be:
- Legalised by the foreign representative office of the intended destination country, which requires authentication by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); or
- Stamped with an apostille by DFAT if the intended destination country is also a member of the Apostille Convention (like Australia).
DFAT authentication is only required if the intended destination country is NOT a member of the Apostille Convention.
In many cases, legalisation is a 3-step process, which starts with notarisation if your document isn’t an original Australian government document. For example, if you’re sending a private document like a power of attorney to a country that’s not a member of the Apostille Convention, then you must follow these steps:
- Sign the power of attorney in front of a notary public. The notary public will verify your identity, witness your signature and notarise your power of attorney.
- Your notarised power of attorney must be authenticated by DFAT. Authentication means DFAT will verify that your power of attorney has been properly notarised (and therefore it’s now a public document).
- After your notarised power of attorney has been authenticated by DFAT, it must be legalised by the foreign representative office of the intended destination country. This usually means sending your notarised and authenticated power of attorney to the embassy or consulate. The embassy or consulate will verify that your power of attorney has been authenticated by DFAT.
If you’re sending a different kind of document (ie, not a power of attorney) then other steps, processes or requirements may apply. It’s best to check the requirements with the intended recipient and then discuss those requirements with our notary public to confirm the process.
Australian notary public services for public documents and private documents
If your documents are public documents (ie, original government documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates etc), then those documents can be stamped with an apostille or authenticated without notarisation. Otherwise, if you want to retain your original public document and you only want to send a certified copy to the intended destination country, then the certified copy of that public document must also be notarised by a notary public before it can be stamped with an apostille or authenticated for legalisation purposes.
If your documents are private documents (ie, non-government documents such as medical reports, education documents or qualifications, business or commercial documents etc), then those documents must be notarised by a notary public before they can be stamped with an apostille or authenticated. In some cases, we must also verify the authenticity of the document with whoever issued it before we can notarise that document. For example, education documents or qualifications must be verified with the relevant school, college or university before they can be notarised and before DFAT will accept them for the purpose of stamping them with an apostille or authenticated for legalisation purposes.
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 offerings; 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 and beyond.
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 countries all over the world.