Australia is a common law country with a legal system derived from the English tradition of law. The role of notaries public in Australia is somewhat different to that of other common law jurisdictions (such as the United States, where in some cases notaries do not require any legal training) and civil law jurisdictions (where notarial acts are drawn for use within the jurisdiction). As a general proposition, the Australian notary will only be sought in cases where a person requires some document to be certified or authenticated for use overseas only.

Australian public notaries are appointed by the respective state or territory Supreme Court except for Queensland, whose  notaries are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury via the office of “Master of Faculties”. It is rare for an a local notary to be appointed to practice in more than one state or territory, however there is no prohibition against this; if a notary has a cross-state business that may require him to be appointed in multiple jurisdictions, this is indeed possible. Each state or territory will ordinarily have a college of notaries that acts as a chief representative body for the profession. In New South Wales, for example, this is the Society of Notaries of NSW Inc.

Unlike some other common law jurisdictions, the notary public in NSW will be a solicitor or barrister (legal practitioner) with at least five year experience in the profession of giving legal advice and/or litigation. Nevertheless, a notary in Australia is not providing legal advice through the provision of his notarial service. The professional obligations of the notary are not just to the party seeking his services but to the transaction itself, and when the notary is acting for two parties to the same transaction his obligations are to them both. It is therefore important that the notary in these situations does not suffer a conflict of interest that would prevent him from providing his services in an impartial manner.

The notarial act can appear different in different situations but much contain key features which constitute the jurat. Whether the notarial act is in the public or private form, the jurat must not be defective. A notarial act may be effected on a document that is already drafted by one of the parties seeking it to be notarised, or alternatively a notarial certificate (sometimes also known as an “eschatocol”) will have to be drafted by the notary and appended to the notarised document. The retirements of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stipulate that the attachment of the notarial certificate must be effected by a ribbon which is used to sew the pages of the notarial act and the relevant documents together, and that the ends of the ribbon be aced under a wafer over which the notary public’s  seal is embossed.

Australian public notaries do not hold “commissions” but are appointed for life. However the condition of appointment is that the notary public remains on the role of solicitors in the given state or territory and maintains a current practicing certificate. Once appointed, the notary is entitled to insert the post nominals “NP” at the end of his name to denote his office. Generally, the Sydney notary public will be able to provide services in relation to the following:

  • Certifying that a document is a true and correct copy of its original;
  • Authenticating an original copy of a document by verifying it with the originating authority or institution;
  • Witnessing individuals or companies signing or executing deeds, contracts or other written agreements;
  • Notarising international wills, powers of attorney or other legal or administrative documents;
  • Taking declarations made on behalf on an individual or a corporation;
  • Providing certifications as to Australian law or legal practice for use overseas and internationally.

A Sydney notary public can offer his services to a prospective client either at the client’s home or office, the notary’s own office or at some other mutually agreeable location. For more information on availability for our mobile notaries, see our Availability page. For a detained description of the services that the notary can provide, see our page on Services Offered. Some recent notarial acts drawn by a Sydney public notary are also described in our section on Examples of Notarizations and Certificates. For a quote on fees and how we can assist you in your personal or business needs, please contact us on the details provided here.

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