In order to use your document overseas, you must use a “Notary” to notarise your document. A notary is just like “an international Justice of the Peace” because the Notarial documentation produced by the Notary are to be used overseas and recognised by other countries under international conventions. For example, a “Power of Attorney” made in Sydney (Australia) needs to be notarised in order to be accepted in Beijing of China, or an affidavit affirmed in Sydney needs to be witnessed by a Notary before it can be accepted in an American Court.

What a Notary can do for you?

A notary in Australia can do the following tasks for you:

  • Authenticating official, government and personal documents
  • Authenticating your identity
  • Witnessing your signature to documents
  • Preparing and witnessing a Power of Attorney
  • Certifying true copies of original documents for use overseas
  • Verifying company and business current status and transactions

When a Notary performs the above task, the Notary will annex his/her signature to the document with his/her Notarial seal.

What to do next after seeing a Notary?

In many circumstances, seeing a Notary is the first step. After that, the signature and seal of the Notary needs to be legalised (certified as true signature and seal) by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). To do so, you need to bring the notarised documents to the nearest office of DFAT. In Sydney, it is the Australian Passport Office located at Level 7, 26 Lee Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (near Central Station).

Once DFAT has legalised the document by issuing its certificate to the notary document (normally attaching the certificate to the Notary’s document), the document may also have to be certified at the consulate General or Embassy of the foreign country to which it is to be used. This procedure is normally called “authentication” or “certification”. In effect, the Consulate General or Embassy is Certifying teh Australian Government’s seal and signature on the document is authentic.


However, many countries who are signatories to an International Convention do not need certification by the Consulate General or Embassy. Under the Hague Convention, DFAT is authorised to affix and “Apostille” to the notarial document. This will save each client time and expense. Please click here to find out the countries who are signatories of the Hague Convention that only require an “Apostille”.