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

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

In Australia, the main difference between a notary public and a justice of the peace is that a notary public is recognised overseas (ie, outside of Australia) while a justice of the 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.

Do you need an apostille, authentication or legalisation?

Importantly, if you also need to have your documents stamped with an apostille or authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), DFAT will not recognise a justice of the peace – only a notary public. So in order for you to have your documents stamped with an apostille or authenticated by DFAT, your document will also need to be notarised (unless they are Australian government public documents).

Are notary services free?

Since a justice of the peace is a free service, you should use a justice of the peace if you can. However, a notary public can still also assist you with documents that you use in Australia, especially if you cannot find a justice of the peace (which has become more and more challenging in this post-COVID world) – just do not expect that a notary public will also be a free service.

What is a notary?

For your further information, all notaries in Australia must be lawyers but not all lawyers are or must be notaries. A notary public is a senior lawyer who has completed further qualifications to be appointed as a notary public. A notary public, like a justice of the peace, is authorised by law to take oaths, affirmations, and declarations from people swearing to the truth of certain documents or for certifying true copies of documents for legal purposes. There are other kinds of authorised witnesses depending on what document you have to sign or certify and where that document will be used.

A justice of the peace does not have to be a lawyer (and probably most justice of the 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.

Who can witness my signature or certify my documents?

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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?

Visit our Notary Fees page for a free quote for our notary public services or just call us on +61 2 9687 8885 to speak with our friendly team about your requirements.

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.

Ern Phang, Notary Public
Ern Phang
Notary Public

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.

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