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Public Notary 

Public Notary 

Wentworth Lawyers & Partners has professionals who are admitted as Public Notaries and are capable of assisting with your notarial needs. 

A Public Notary is a person who is a barrister or solicitor of not less than 5 years’ standing appointed and enrolled under section 6 of the Public Notaries Act 1997 (Cth). While Justices of the Peace (JPs) in Australia provide services similar to American notaries, they are not permitted to witness documents for use in foreign countries. On the other hand, Notaries have this exclusive right and are the only true international “JPs” in Australia. 

Public Notaries affix their official seal (usually impressed onto a red sticker) or stamp, onto documents immediately under, adjacent or as near as possible to their signatures. 

All Notaries’ seals and signatures are officially recorded in a database held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), an Australian government department authorised to issue Apostille or Authentication Certificates certifying that the signatures, seals or stamps of Notaries on Australian public documents are genuine. 

Common Functions Performed by Notaries 

The most common functions or tasks of notaries within Australia tend to be: 


  • Authenticating official, Government and personal documents and information for use overseas 

  • Witnessing signatures of individuals to documents and authenticating identity. 

  • Witnessing Powers of Attorney for use overseas, including from time to time, preparing them. 

  • Certifying true copies of documents for use overseas. 

  • For corporations and business, witnessing documents and authenticating status and transactions. 

  • Dealing with documentation for land, property and deceased estates overseas.

Other Notarial Functions 

Often notarial functions may include the requirement for the preparation of legal documents, such as a power of attorney or an agreement encompassing and formalising a transaction. As a lawyer the notary is well qualified to carry out this legal work for the client as well as perform the notarial function. 

Legalization of the Notary’s Signature & Apostille 

In many instances the document(s) to be sent overseas may require the signature and seal of the notary to be legalised (certified as correct) by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Once DFAT has issued its certificate and indorsed or attached it to the notary’s document, the document may have to be certified at the Consulate or Embassy of the foreign country to which it is to be sent. The Consulate or Embassy is in effect certifying the Australian Government’s seal and signature on the document is correct. 

The notary can usually help clients by explaining DFAT’s requirements and the requirements of the particular Consulate. The act of the DFAT’s legalisation of the notary’s signature and seal never implies acceptance or approval of any words, statement, certificate or other document preceding the legalised signature. This is frequently stated by DFAT in its certificates. 

Many countries, including Australia, are signatories to a Convention that overcomes the double requirement of legalisation and then certification by the Consulate. Member countries issue an "Apostille" which cuts time and expense for the client. The Apostille is a statement identifying the signature of the notary and comprises a large stamp affixed to the notary's signed document. Under The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents of 1961, the Australian authorised affixer of the Apostille is DFAT. 

Notaries’ Recommended Scale of Fees 

In NSW, there is a recommended scale of fees, but Notaries are not formally bound by the scale, and may charge above or below the recommended scale. 

All other outlays and out of pocket expenses to be added to the scale. Notaries should take the individual circumstances of each attendance into account (such as time involved and work performed) when applying the scale. It may be appropriate to apply the hourly scale particularly when certificates have not been prepared by the notary. 

The Scale sets out the base fee and the fee inclusive of GST. 


Disclaimer: This publication is intended only to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Consult a legal professional.
1 Australian Government, ‘2013-14 Federal Budget Paper no.2’, 14/content/bp2/html/index.htm
2 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, ‘Strengthening the integrity of the 457 program’, 
3 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Annual Report 2011-12, ‘Temporary Residents (economic)’, 12/html/performance/outcome_1/temporary_residents_economic.htm 
4 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, ‘Strengthening the integrity of the 457 program’,

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