What Is A Notary Public in NSW?

What Is A Notary Public in NSW?

What Is A Notary Public in NSW

Have you ever sought to get Powers of Attorney, wills, deeds, contracts, or other documents witnessed? Have you struggled to find the appropriate services if you live in a country town? Even If you live in greater Sydney, NSW, the problem can be amplified if you deal with an overseas organization.  An Australian Notary Public can witness documents, administer oaths, and perform a range of national and international administrative functions. The person is appointed for life by a State or Territory Supreme Court. Under the Public Notaries Act 1997 (NSW) and the Public Notaries Appointment rules 1998, If you are a practicing solicitor in New South Wales with a minimum of 5 years of experience, you are eligible to apply to the NSW Supreme Court to be appointed a Notary Public. Prospective applicants must complete the Notarial Practice Course and apply through the Legal Profession Admission Board. A Notary can then become a member of the Notaries Association. If you are looking for a Public Notary to perform a service for you, the Society of Notaries of New South Wales Inc provides a helpful website. The website will help you find a notary and gives further information about what you need to know before your appointment and what fees you can expect to pay. The society assists individuals but is also available to assist a Government department or other institution as required. There are several menu options if you are looking for a notary public on the Society of Notaries website. Use the menu options to search by region or by foreign language. You could also browse Sydney lawyers.

Rules Governing The Practice Of Notaries

While on the Roll of Notaries, the Notary practices anywhere within the state of New South Wales. Because Notaries are also practicing solicitors, they must hold compulsory professional indemnity insurance to protect their clients. 

Signatures And Seals

An official database is held of all signatures and seals of all appointed public notaries. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is responsible for the safekeeping of this database. 


Authentication certificates will require your Public Notary to see proof of identity, and your Notary will carefully examine your current Driver’s Licence or Passport. Notaries will need to determine that you are of sound mind and do not suffer any legal incapacity. Notaries are required to explain the document you are signing and what they are witnessing to ensure you fully understand the nature and the effect of the document’s contents being signed and witnessed. If you can copy documents you wish to receive advice on and forward them in advance of your appointment, this could be a valuable time saver for your visit. If the form is not in English, the Notary may arrange a translation of the document. Also, take with you to show the Notary the instructions you may have received from outside Australia so that the Notary can ensure that overseas requirements are met. If you are signing a document on behalf of a company as their official representative, the secretary, or director, confirm that you have the company’s authority to sign on their behalf. You can expect that the Notary Public will refuse services if a document constitutes fraud or an unlawful act.

Functions Or Tasks Of Notaries

A Public Notary will certify government documents or personal documents and information needed for use in Australia or overseas.   You may seek to have Powers of Attorney Documents drawn up. Your solicitor will prepare these documents, and then as a Notary Public, will be able to witness your signature on these documents. Such documents may be for use in Australia or overseas purposes. Similar preparation of documents for use in Australia or overseas can be prepared, such as wills, deeds, and contracts. It may be that you need witnesses to affidavits, statutory declarations, powers of attorney, and your Public Notary will also assist in this regard. Required documents for use internationally can also be witnessed by the Public Notary.  The Notary will help you explain DFAT’s requirements (including current DFAT filing fees, and the needs of the particular Consulate.  

Documents For Use Internationally

Apostille or Authentication Certificate

Should you wish to use your documents outside Australia, it is wise to obtain an Apostille Certificate of Authentication. This simplifies the formalities associated with using public documents outside Australia. 

Justice Of The Peace Differences

Notaries Public have more responsibilities than Justices of the Peace and as such, engaging a Notary Public is likely to incur a fee. Both a JP and a Notary Public certify people’s identities on documents and authenticate true copies of original documents.   A significant difference between a JP and a Notary Public is that a JP can only assist in Australia. You might view a Notary Public as an international JP.

Article Summary

In Australia, we are spoilt for choice when needing to get documents witnessed or oaths. You could probably safely visit any Sydney Lawyers and receive the services you need. If you particularly wish to use a Notary Public, you will be able to find appropriate people on the Association of Public Notaries website.  

Simon Fletcher is the Principal Solicitor at FletchLaw. He has been admitted as a solicitor to the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of New South Wales. His academic qualifications include of a Bachelor of Laws, a Graduate Certificate in Professional Legal Practice and a Master of Applied Laws (Mediation and Family Law Dispute Resolution). He can offer assistance in a wide variety of legal areas.

Do you have a problem with Notaries Public or any other legal issue? Call us on 02 9159 9026 to find out how we can help.

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