Who can certify copies of your documents?
When you must send a copy of your original document to someone, the chances are they’ll ask you to provide them with ‘certified copies’.
Generally, this means the copy of the original document must be certified by a qualified or authorised person. The person who can certify the copies of your original documents depends on where you are, where you’ll be using or sending your documents, and what documents you have and what they will be used for.
If you’re not sure of the answers to these questions, it’s a good idea to ask. The answers will determine who can certify and how they must certify.
Where are you using your certified copies?
If you live in New South Wales and you want to use your certified copies in New South Wales, then in most cases you can have copies of your documents certified by a justice of the peace (also known as a ‘JP’) because they’re a free service. You can also use a lawyer or a notary public, but it’s likely that you’ll need to pay for using the services of a lawyer or notary public.
If you live in New South Wales or any other state, and you want to use your certified copies in Australia, then there’s a long list of people who can certify copies of documents for Commonwealth purposes. By comparison, the number of people who can certify copies of your documents for use in New South Wales is limited.
If you live in Australia and you want to certify your documents for use in another country, then you generally must have them notarised by a notary public. This means if you are sending Australian documents to another country, then those documents would need to be certified and notarised by a notary public. Generally, a notary public in Australia will only certify and notarise documents issued in Australia. For documents issued from other countries, you would need to engage a notary public in the country where the documents were issued.
Certifying and notarising Australian documents
Generally, only documents issued in Australia can be notarised in Australia. If the documents were issued in another country, then they would need to be notarised in that country. We assist people from all over the world with certifying and notarising their Australian documents.
For example, we can notarise and certify copies of documents such as:
- Australian personal certificates, like birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, change of name certificates.
- Australian identification documents, such as the Australian drivers licence, state issued photocard, and Medicare Card.
- Australian criminal history or police check certificates, issued by the Australian Federal Police, state police agencies or third party accredited providers.
- Australian education documents issued from Australian educational institutions. Usually, education documents must be verified with the issuing institution before they can be notarised.
- Australian employment documents issued by Australian employers and businesses.
Do your certified copies need to be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and legalised?
If you’re sending certified copies of your original Australian documents to another country and you’ve been asked to get it stamped with an apostille or authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), then your certified copies must be notarised. DFAT won’t accept documents signed or certified by other prescribed, qualified or authorised witnesses.
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.
Who can witness my signature or certify my documents?
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.