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Home > Who can witness an affidavit in New South Wales?

Who can witness an affidavit in New South Wales?

What’s an affidavit?

An affidavit is a written document containing statements of truth. Usually, they’re 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.

Who can witness your affidavit?

Sometimes referred to as a ‘prescribed witness’, ‘qualified witness’ or an ‘authorised witness’, a person who’s authorised to witness signatures can vary depending on where you’re using your affidavit. If you’re not sure where or why you need an affidavit, it’s a good idea to ask because the answer will also determine how it needs to be signed and witnessed.

Where are you using your affidavit?

If you live in New South Wales and you want to use your affidavit in New South Wales, then in most cases you can sign it in front of 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 affidavit in Australia, then there’s a long list of people who can witness it for Commonwealth purposes. By comparison, the number of people who can witness your affidavit for use in New South Wales is limited.

If you live in Australia and you want to use your affidavit in another country, then you generally must have it notarised by a notary public. This means if your signature must be witnessed, then it must be witnessed by the notary public.

Does your affidavit need to be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and legalised?

If you’re sending your affidavit 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 affidavit must be notarised. DFAT won’t accept documents signed 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?

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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.

Not sure what you need? Contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

So, what’s next?

Visit our Notary Fees page for a free quote for our notary public services. Otherwise, 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. 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.

Ern Phang
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 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.

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