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. For more information, also visit
- http://smartraveller.gov.au/services/legalising-documents/Pages/default.aspx or
If the intended destination country is NOT a signatory to the Apostille Convention, then your documents sent to that country must be authenticated by DFAT and authenticated by the intended destination country’s foreign representative office in Australia before the documents will be recognised in the intended destination country.
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.
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.