Notary Public

Marieann Duncan as well as being a legal practitioner is also a Notary Public appointed by the Supreme Court of NSW.

What is a Notary Public?

In Australia a Notary Public (also referred to as a Public Notary) must be a legal practitioner of several years standing before being appointed as a notary and must satisfy various admission qualifications and requirements before the appointment will be approved.

A notary has a function which is in addition to the standard legal function and responsibilities of an Australian legal practitioner. The role of a notary is to facilitate private or public international law requirements.

Notaries are able to administer oaths, witness signatures, verify copies (as true copies of original documents) and issue Notarial certificates when relevant for foreign jurisdictions.

Notaries are professional legal practitioners carrying out a court delegated role and take on an insurable risk in carrying out their duties and can be held liable for notarising any document or identification of a person that might be misleading, incorrect or false.

Notaries must hold professional negligence insurance.

Notarial services

As the growth of identity fraud has become a serious global problem, the notarisation of documentation has become increasingly important in facilitating international transactions. Before the notarial action can be completed consideration is given to what is requested and what is the purpose of the notarised document.

At a personal level, individuals may need to have their identity verified and documents certified or signatures witnessed then notarised if they are to be relied upon overseas. Typical examples of documents which may need to be notarised include passports, citizenship certificates and consent to travel documentation.

A notary has to observe specific rules when asked to perform a notarial function in relation to foreign language documents or educational qualifications.

The services of a notary may be required for a range of commercial transactions such as overseas trade documents (letters of credit), contractual arrangements between foreign businesses or individuals (transfers of foreign assets, such as real estate) and matters concerning international trademarks, copyright or patent applications.

A notary may be required to certify the identity or existence of an Australian company or a person’s role in a company for instance as a company director, which may require the notary to undertake appropriate investigation, for example checking the ASIC records.

Checklist for your appointment

  • We can never witness a signature of a person who does not sign a document in our presence.
  • We must meet with and properly identify an individual to notarise their signature. Individuals attending our office for notarial assistance will need to bring original identification documents, to provide 100 points of identification typically such as a passport and driver’s licence or such other additional supporting documents showing current address. Information about 100 points of identification is conveniently explained in the NSW Registrar General’s guidelines.

  • When certifying copy documents, we must always sight the original documents.
  • When identifying corporations or other entities, we will need to conduct appropriate searches or enquiries, such as an ASIC search, to verify the entity’s identity.
  • If documents are not in English, we may require a translation to be obtained before processing.
  • We may ask you to scan and send copies of relevant documents prior to your appointment, if possible. This may save time and possibly expense, as the notary will be able to prepare a more detailed quote and properly prepare for the meeting.

Apostille for notarised documents

If an overseas authority requires an Authentication or an Apostille certificate this must be obtained from the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs& Trade (DFAT). In most cases documents must first be notarised before presented to DFAT for an Authentication or an Apostille (there are some exceptions). The notary is then required to issue a Notarial Certificate before the notarised documents are provided to DFAT for processing.

DFAT holds a database of the seals and signatures of appointed notaries and is   required to verify the authenticity of the Notary and thereafter certify that the signature and seal or stamp of the Notary affixed to the documents which have been produced to DFAT are genuine.

The requirement for the Apostille or Authentication is determined by the specific requirements of the international organisation or government authority requiring the document, and usually depends on the end purpose and use of the document in the foreign country.

  • Countries or territories which are signatories to the Hague Convention on ‘Apostille’ do not require any further legalisation process.
  • Other countries not signatories to that Hague convention after the issue of an authentication from DFAT may require the document then be legalised by their embassy in Australia before the document can be used in the foreign jurisdiction.
  • Various embassies have different requirements for legalisation such as the notary sending proof of registration and seal by letter.
  • Each foreign embassy will usually have some information on their website about their requirements.

More information can be found on the website of DFAT

or the Hague convention website


Fees are charged in accordance with the scale set by the NSW Attorney General’s office and fees vary depending on the work required.


We are conveniently located a 15-minute walk from DFAT if you need to lodge an application for an authentication or apostille. We can also advise you on the relevant application form required.

If you need any assistance with notarial services, contact us at [email protected] or call 02 9699 9877 for a no-obligation discussion about your notary requirements.