FAQs – General

In Australia, most people do not know what is a notary public or what a notary public does. A quick survey of people on the street will also reveal that they would not be familiar with the words ‘notary’ or ‘notary public’. These frequently asked questions attempt to answer some of the questions that clients ask us about what it means to be a notary public and our notary public services.

These frequently asked questions and their respective answers are based on our first-hand experience as a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney. Accordingly, the answers found in these frequently asked questions are not going to be readily available on the internet and they may not be applicable to other notaries.

If you have your own questions, which have not otherwise been answered in our existing FAQs, please contact us and ask our notary public yourself.

A notary public, also known as a public notary, is a senior lawyer who can administer oaths and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate documents and perform certain other acts in Australia in relation to documents intended to be used overseas. The role can best be described as an ‘international justice of the peace’.

A document that will be used overseas (outside of Australia) but signed, witnessed or certified in Australia generally needs to be notarised by a notary public before it will be accepted or considered legally valid in the intended destination country.

See also What’s a ‘notary public’?

A notary public attests documents and certifies the execution of the documents, prepares and certifies certain legal documents, administers oaths, witnesses affidavits, statutory declarations and other documents, and certifies copies of the documents. A notary public fulfills a role which can be best described as an ‘international justice of the peace’.

If you are not sure whether you require a notary public or a justice of peace (which should be a free service), you should check with whoever has asked you to have your document notarised in the first place. Documents that are intended to be used in countries overseas but are signed, witnessed or certified in Australia generally need to be notarised by a notary public before they will be accepted and legally valid in the intended destination country.

See also What does a notary public do?

In Australia, the main difference between a notary public and a justice of peace is that a notary public is recognised overseas (ie, outside of Australia) while a justice of peace is only recognised in Australia. The role of a notary public can be best described as an ‘international justice of the peace’.

If your document needs to be used overseas then you will generally need to have your document notarised by a notary public. The fact that you are asking this question and you are now reading this page suggests that someone has asked you to use a notary public or to have your documents notarised.

A notary public can also assist you with documents that you use in Australia, but as a justice of the peace may not charge a fee for their service, using a justice of the peace for documents that you use in Australia is financially logical choice.

For your further information, all notaries in Australia must be lawyers but not all lawyers are or must be notaries. A justice of peace does not have to be a lawyer (and probably most justice of peace are not lawyers). For more information regarding JPs in New South Wales, please visit http://www.jp.nsw.gov.au/.

* this is our most ‘frequent’ frequently asked question regarding our notary public services.

See also What’s the difference between a notary public and a justice of peace?

As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we treat notary public services as an important part of our practice. We intentionally compete on price to be one of the lowest cost providers in the market because we want to win your business. If we cannot win your business on price, then we will win your business on service, expertise, and availability – try to find that with other notaries.

Compare us with other notaries

We allocate priority to our notary public clients and their documents, which means we keep ourselves available for appointments and generally you will be able to make an appointment with our notary public on short notice. We are conveniently located in Parramatta, which is the geographic centre of Sydney metropolitan area and easily accessible by all forms of public and private transport (click here for more information).

We are highly experienced with notary public services, having notarised many documents, regularly and frequently for many different intended destination countries. We are familiar with the documents and requirements, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and many foreign consulates and embassies are familiar with our signature and seal.

See also What makes you different from other notaries?

In Australia, an apostille is a certificate issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) certifying that a document has been notarised by a notary public. An apostille will only be recognised in a country that is a party to the Hague Apostille Convention (officially known as the Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents). For more information, please contact DFAT on 1300 935 260 or visit their website smartraveller.gov.au.

If the intended destination country is not a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, then you may need to have your document ‘authenticated’ by DFAT once it has been notarised by a notary public.

See also What’s an ‘apostille’?

The Apostille Convention (officially known as the Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents) is an international treaty that simplifies the authentication of documents used in different countries around the world. The Apostille Convention only applies to countries that are signatories. The Apostille Convention came into force for Australia on 16 March 1995.

According to the Apostille Convention, public documents that have been issued with a certificate, called an apostille, will be recognised by other counties that are also signatories to the Apostille Convention. Further authentication by the foreign office of the intended destination country is not required.

The Apostille Convention defines ‘public documents’ as:

  • documents from an authority or an official connected with a court or tribunal;
  • public administrative documents prepared by an administrative agency or government authority; or
  • documents issued or signed by a notary public.

In Australia, only the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has the authority to issue an apostille.

If the intended destination country is not a signatory to the Apostille Convention, then documents sent to that country must be authenticated by DFAT and authenticated by the intended destination country’s foreign office in Australia before the documents will be recognised by the intended destination country.

For more information, also visit

If the intended destination country is not a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, then you may need to have your document ‘authenticated’ by DFAT once it has been notarised by a notary public.

See also What’s the Apostille Convention?

If you have an original document issued by an Australian government department (ie, birth certificate, marriage certificate, citizenship certificate), also known as a public document, you can obtain an apostille from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). If you have a private document (ie, power of attorney, contract) or a copy of a public document, you must notarise that document before DFAT will issue you with an apostille.

Leave the apostille to us!

Many of our notary public clients will apply for an apostille themselves, however this can be troublesome and time-consuming. If you want us to help you apply for an apostille, please advise us at the time of making an appointment to obtain a quote inclusive of the DFAT apostille fee and our service fees. We would be pleased to assist you.

For more information, visit:

See also I’ve been told I need an apostille. Where and how do I get it?

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will authenticate notarised documents by certifying that the documents were notarised by a notary public. For example, DFAT retain a copy of our signature and seal so that when you submit our notarised documents to DFAT, they will authenticate that our notary public is a notary public.

Once DFAT has authenticated the document, you must take that authenticated document to the relevant consulate or embassy before it can be sent to the intended destination country.

Leave the authentication to us!

Many of our notary public clients will apply for an authentication themselves, however this can be troublesome and time consuming. If you want us to help you apply for an authentication, please advise us at the time of making an appointment to obtain a quote inclusive of the DFAT authentication fee and our service fees. We would be pleased to assist you.

We can also help you apply for authentication with the relevant consulate or embassy of the intended destination country.

See also What’s ‘authentication’?

Yes. We are registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Due to the large number of documents that we notarise and the frequency that we are notarising documents, DFAT staff are immediately familiar with our signature and seal. We are also recognised directly by a number of foreign consulates and embassies.

Our reputation in providing notary public services ensures that documents that have been notarised by us will generally be recognised without issue – and we stand behind our reputation.

Where is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade?

There is a DFAT office in every capital city. In Sydney, you must lodge your application for an authentication or an apostille at the Sydney Passport Office of DFAT which is located at:

Level 7, 26 Lee Street (near Central Station)
Sydney NSW 2000
Please be aware that the Sydney Passport Office is only open between 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday for authentication and apostille.

See also Are you recognised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade?

We were appointed as a notary public in 2005 and over the many years have assisted countless number of clients with their documents to nearly every country all around the world.

What makes us different from other notary public services is that this is our core expertise. By focusing on providing notary public services, we have experienced (and are familiar) with a wide range of documents and the common situations/problems that our clients face each and every day. We understand the complexities of dealing with foreign laws, other lawyers overseas, and the different governments and government offices overseas and within Australia through the various embassies, consulates, and foreign offices.

If you agree that it takes 10,000 hours to make an expert (as some people say), then you can rest assured that we have what it takes to help you with notarising your foreign documents.

See also What’s your experience in providing notary public services?

Yes. We are a full-service law firm, and provide professional legal services in a range of areas in addition to notary services. Key areas include

  • Property law and conveyancing services
  • Business law and commercial transactions
  • Debt recovery and small claims litigation, and
  • Family law, divorce and property settlements.

Legal Services

Please visit our law firm website at https://www.phanglegal.com.au or call our office on 02 9687 8885 for more information regarding our full range of professional legal services. In 2017, we celebrated a major milestone of having proudly served people and the local community for 15 years.

Translation Services

In addition to notary public services and professional legal services, we also assist clients with translating their documents – usually into English.

NAATI Translations - Free Quotes - Click HereIf you have a document that is written in a language other than English, but you want to use that document in Australia, it is likely that the document must be translated into English by a NAATI accredited translator. We provide translation services to our clients through our panel of NAATI accredited translators. See Document Translation for more information our translation services.

See also Do you provide any services other than notary services?

Phang Legal - 15 years serving the community

Do you have any questions regarding this article?

If you have never had to have a document notarised before, you may find our role as a notary public, the notary public services that we provide, and this whole process (especially authentication, legalisation and apostille) to be confusing and daunting. Do not worry! We are here to try to simplify it, make it easy for you to understand, and to guide you or assist you with achieving your desired goal.

Please contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information regarding this article or our notary public services.

Click here to see the flowchart that we created to help you understand the process regarding notarisation, apostille, authentication and legalisation.

So, what next?

If you are now ready to proceed with having your document notarised, please visit our Notary Fees page for a FREE quote on our notary public services or just call us on 02 9687 8885 and speak to our friendly staff about your requirements.

Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?

We are a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney known for our low-cost fixed fee notary services, our availability to provide notary public services on short notice, and our focus on personal and timely notary public services. With our offices conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area, our notary public assists clients from across all suburbs of Sydney and beyond.

Ern Phang, Notary Public


Notary Public

This website is maintained by Phang Legal, an incorporated legal practice in Parramatta and a leading provider of notary public services to clients across Sydney. Extensive experience and low-cost fixed prices ensures quality services and satisfied clients.

is the solicitor director of Phang Legal and a notary public. Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public and the kinds of issues faced by his clients in sending documents overseas.

All information contained in this article is for general purposes only and correct as at the time of publication. You should only rely on information and advice that is specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.

Posted: 2010-01-01 00:00:24 / Last edited: 2018-05-26 15:09:04