Have you heard of the terms “affidavit” and “statutory declaration” but aren’t sure what’s the difference? Different countries use different terms (especially when translated into English) for what essentially could be the same document.
In this part, we explain some of the similarities and differences to give you a better idea of what someone might be referring to when they use these terms. Keep in mind, if you’re dealing with documents intended for another country, you should ask your lawyer in that country to clearly explain what’s required so that if necessary we can apply it in an Australian context.
An affidavit and a statutory declaration are both sworn statements of fact. This means you write down in a document what you want to state as the truth, you declare to an approved witness that your statements are true, you sign that document in front of that witness, and that witness then signs to confirm that you signed that document in their presence.
What’s an affidavit?
An affidavit is a written document containing statements of truth. Usually, affidavits are used as evidence in court proceedings. This means if you have to write an affidavit, you might have to follow certain requirements such as the form and format of your document (ie, on court-approved documents). There are various obligations that arise from using affidavits in court and the court can impose penalties for making false statements.
You should always consult your lawyer before trying to write an affidavit for court proceedings because there are laws that determine what’s admissible as evidence and what isn’t. Sometimes the difference isn’t just what you write, but also how you write it.
What’s a statutory declaration?
A statutory declaration is also a written document containing statements of truth. Usually, statutory declarations are used for general purposes when you want to confirm a fact and they can also be used as evidence in court proceedings if required. The form and format of the statutory declaration depend on its intended use and whether that relates to a federal issue or a state issue (and the corresponding legislation).
In Australia, if you’re making a statement about a federal issue, then you should probably use the Commonwealth form. However, if you’re making a statement about a state issue, then you should probably use the state form relevant to your state. In New South Wales, there are two versions of the statutory declaration forms.
If you’re making a statement to be used in another country and you haven’t been asked to use an Australian statutory declaration, then you should use a statutory declaration in the form and the format that’s legally valid and normally acceptable in that country.
How can we help with affidavits and statutory declarations?
Primarily, we can help with affidavits and statutory declarations as an approved witness. This means if you need to declare and sign your affidavit or statutory declaration, we can be your witness. As a notary public, we can take your declaration and witness your signature regardless of whether you’re using your affidavit or statutory declaration for a state purpose, a federal purpose or an international purpose. We’ll also notarise your document.
How to write an affidavit or statutory declaration?
The various court forms or online templates for writing affidavits or statutory declarations are largely blank. They only contain the basic framework of the document without the various statements of truth – that’s the part that you must write yourself!
If you need help with writing an affidavit or a statutory declaration, then our office can provide those professional legal services in certain circumstances – not necessarily associated with notary public services (which is purely just the witnessing and notarising). However, if you need help writing an affidavit because you’re in the middle of court proceedings, then this is something best left to your lawyer or whoever is helping you with your case.
If you’re intending to use your affidavit or statutory declaration in another country (other than Australia), then you should consult your lawyer in that intended destination country. We generally don’t write affidavits or statutory declarations for other countries simply because it’s not our area of expertise. We’re focused on providing notary public services only. This means we’ll witness you sign your affidavit or statutory declaration and we’ll notarise your document (as well as obtain the apostille or authentication from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, if necessary). However, in terms of writing the document, we’ll leave that to your lawyer. Presumably, any kind of document would need to satisfy the language and form of the intended destination country and so that’s something we don’t want to interfere with.
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.