Authorising someone to act on your behalf overseas
You live in Australia, but you want someone to look after your property, business, or other legal or financial dealings overseas? You can achieve this by appointing an attorney under a power of attorney. Usually, a power of attorney signed in Australia must be notarised before it can be used overseas in other countries.
While different countries refer to power of attorney by different names, depending on the destination country, you can use a General Power of Attorney if you want your attorney to handle everything for you. However, if you want to limit your attorney’s power (ie, to a specific issue or transaction), then a Special Power of Attorney will be more appropriate.
Does my power of attorney need to be notarised?
If you live in Australia and you’re signing a power of attorney for another country, then it’s likely that your power of attorney must be notarised. This means you must sign your power of attorney in front of a notary public. The notary public will then confirm your identity, witness your signature and notarise your power of attorney.
Depending on the destination country, you may also need to have your power of attorney stamped with an apostille or authenticated and then legalised by the foreign representative office (ie, embassy or consulate) of the destination country. If that’s the case, then your power of attorney must be notarised first.
What does notarising my power of attorney involve?
Notarising your power of attorney will generally require you (and anyone else who may be signing the power of attorney with you) to sign in front of the notary public. That’s what we provide!
The notary public will verify your identity according to your passport (or other photo identity documents) and witness you sign your power of attorney. The notary public can then notarise your power of attorney by stamping, signing, and sealing it to confirm that they identified you and witnessed your signature.
When notarising documents like the power of attorney, our notary stamps include a statement in which we confirm the identity of the person who signed the document, confirm that they signed it in our presence, and verify that we identified them according to their specific identification document. Our accompanying signature and notary seal are the fundamental parts of notarisation.
Who can prepare my power of attorney for another country?
Since your power of attorney is to be used in another country other than Australia, it should be prepared by someone who is familiar with the laws, procedures, and documents used in that country. Generally, we recommend that you engage a qualified lawyer in the destination country to prepare your power of attorney for you. If you don’t know anyone, then ask your attorney in that country.
Can I use an Australian power of attorney overseas?
Despite what you may have heard from other people, you shouldn’t use a power of attorney that’s been prepared for use in Australia as your power of attorney for use in a different country.
For example, you shouldn’t use the power of attorney that’s been prepared according to the Powers of Attorney Act 2003 (NSW). Usually, this power of attorney is only valid in New South Wales and Australia. Different countries have different laws, procedures, and documents. Accordingly, the power of attorney for Australia and used in Australia will probably be different from the power of attorney for your destination country.
Can I write my own power of attorney for another country?
You can write your own power of attorney for another country, but we don’t recommend it.
You also shouldn’t follow ‘advice’ you read on online forums, chat groups or download just any kind of template from the internet without checking that it’s correct, reliable, and relevant. While the internet may be a vast source of ‘information’, it’s not always the best information or relevant to you or your situation.
The power of attorney is an important legal document. There could be unexpected consequences if you rely on the wrong information or use the wrong template. If your power of attorney hasn’t been prepared properly it might be rejected or create more complications. Aside from the wasted cost of doing it all over again, there’s the irreplaceable cost of time and the delay.
Even relying solely on this article can be dangerous. We write this article from the perspective of observing what clients bring to us for notarisation. We don’t write the power of attorney for other countries or deal with the power of attorney once it arrives in the destination country. Also, these observations are only current as of the date we write this article. Laws and practices can change over time. This is why we’re constantly reminding you throughout this article that all aspects of preparing, signing and finalising your power of attorney in India should ALWAYS be confirmed with your lawyer overseas.
Should I use a General Power of Attorney or a Special Power of Attorney?
Whether a general power of attorney or a special power of attorney is more appropriate for your situation depends on what you’re doing and what you want your attorney to do for you.
For example, if you’re appointing a family member to handle all of your matters on your behalf, then maybe a general power of attorney would be appropriate. However, if you’re appointing your lawyer to look after a specific transaction then perhaps you would appoint them as your attorney under a special power of attorney.
How do I know if my overseas power of attorney must be stamped with an apostille?
Australia is a member of the Apostille Convention. If the destination country is also a member of the Apostille Convention, then documents signed in Australia should be stamped with an apostille. Without an apostille, those documents might not be accepted in that country. Again, this is something you must check with your lawyer overseas.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is the ‘designated competent authority’ for issuing the apostille. DFAT can stamp an apostille on original public documents (ie, other Australian government documents) or on notarised private documents (ie, non-government documents like the power of attorney). This means you must notarise your power of attorney for overseas before it can be stamped with an apostille.
When would my power of attorney need to be legalised by the embassy?
If the destination country for your overseas power of attorney is not a member of the Apostille Convention, you may need to follow the processes outlined by the foreign representative office (ie, embassy or consulate) of the destination country. Different countries have different requirements, but as a general rule, the power of attorney used in countries that are not members of the Apostille Convention must be notarised, authenticated by DFAT and then legalised or authenticated by the foreign representative office of the destination country.
How do I revoke or cancel my overseas power of attorney?
It’s very important that if you want to revoke or cancel your power of attorney in another country that you speak to your lawyer in that country to prepare the necessary paperwork. Generally, the revocation would also need to be signed and notarised. There may also be specific service requirements on your attorney which your lawyer overseas should be able to handle or arrange on your behalf.
Power of Attorney for Australia
If you intend to appoint someone to act on your behalf in Australia (ie, not in another country), then your power of attorney must be prepared in Australia according to the law of the state in which you reside.
In addition to providing notary public services to assist people with their power of attorney used in other countries, we also provide legal services to prepare and witness the NSW Power of Attorney, which can be used across Australia.
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.