Looking for free notary public services?
Some people expect that notary public services are free. They’re not.
Perhaps you might find a notary who’ll help you without charge, but it’s highly unlikely and if it were possible, it’s the exception rather than the general rule. Even in other countries, where the demand for notarisation is greater than Australia and there are many more practising notaries to choose from, notary public services still attract a fee even if it’s only a minimal fee or a nominal fee. We don’t provide free notary public services, but all of our notary public services are offered at a low cost fixed fee.
In Australia, a notary public is a senior lawyer who has completed further qualifications to be admitted as a notary public. Accordingly, unless notarisation is performed as part of pro bono services, it’s likely that you’ll have to pay a notary fee or professional legal cost for notary public services.
It’s possible that the expectation that notary public services are free arises from a misunderstanding about the role of the notary public or confusion between the role of a notary public and the role of a justice of the peace, which is a free service.
Do you really need to use a notary public?
Since notary public services are not usually free (and we don’t provide free notary public services), you should only consider using a notary public if you really require notary public services. Sometimes referred to as a ‘prescribed witness’, ‘qualified witness’ or an ‘authorised witness’, a person who is authorised to witness signatures or certify documents can vary depending on where your documents will be used.
Where are you going to be using your documents?
If you live in New South Wales and you want to use your documents in New South Wales, then in most cases you’ll need to sign your documents or have them certified by a justice of the peace. You can also use a lawyer or a notary public, but expect to pay a notary fee or legal fees for those services.
If you live in New South Wales or any other state, and you want to use your documents in Australia, then there’s a long list of people who can witness or certify your documents for Commonwealth purposes. By comparison, the number of people who can witness or certify your documents for use in New South Wales is relatively limited.
For example, in New South Wales you can usually only use a justice of the peace, lawyer or notary public, but for Commonwealth purposes that list of authorised people also extends to other professions like accountants, dentists, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists etc.
If you live in Australia and you want to use your documents in another country, then you generally must have your documents notarised by a notary public. This means if your signature must be witnessed, then it must be witnessed by the notary public or if your documents must be certified, then they must be certified by the notary public.
Do your documents need to be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and legalised?
If you’re sending your documents overseas and you’ve been told that they must be stamped with an apostille or authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), then your documents must be notarised by a notary public. DFAT does not accept documents signed by other prescribed, qualified or authorised witnesses.
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.