Services we provide
As part of DFAT’s role as the local authority for a number of international conventions or arrangements, we provide the following services overseas.
- issuing of Certificates of no Impediment to Marriage (CNI)
- legalisation of signatures and seals that appear on Australian public documents (authentications and apostilles)
We also provide the following notarial acts overseas:
- certifying copies of Australian documents, or documents intended for use in Australia
- witnessing signatures on Australian forms
- witnessing the signing of Australian Statutory Declarations
- witnessing the making of an Australian Affidavit
If you need to travel long distances to attend the nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission, it would be wise to check their website or telephone/email before travelling to establish opening hours and attendance of relevant staff. Appointments may be required and payment is usually in the local currency. At some locations, a mail-in service may be available for some specific services. Contact the mission for advice.
Clients are advised that the documents relating to notarial services you require from the Australian missions overseas must be presented in the correct form with the correct instructions for witnessing any signatures on the documents. If you are unsure of the legislative requirements relating to witnessing signatures on a particular document, you should seek independent legal advice. Please note, by witnessing a signature on a document neither the Australian Government nor the Australian mission overseas guarantees the legal effectiveness of the document or the accuracy of its contents.
Authentications and apostilles
Overseas authorities will often request that you have your Australian document/s legalised either through an authentication or an apostille before a document can be accepted for local use. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will certify that a signature or seal on an original official Australian public document is genuine by checking it against a specimen held on the department’s database, and applying an authentication certificate to the document.
This is a legal process, and DFAT will only issue an authentication once satisfied that the signature or seal on the document is not fraudulent.
From 1 July 2015, most Australian missions overseas are permitted to issue Australian apostilles on original public document. This does not apply to Consulates headed by an Honorary Consul.
Which stamp do I need – authentication or an apostille?
You should check with the local authorities requesting the document as to their requirements in order to ensure that the appropriate service is provided for your documents to be accepted. DFAT staff cannot advise clients of foreign requirements. We can provide the following general information.
As a general rule, countries that are party to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents require an apostille on documents that qualify as Australian public documents. These countries include Italy, Croatia, Greece, the Netherlands, Israel, South Korea and many others. A full list of countries that are party to this convention can be found at the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.
Some countries will accept an apostille for certain types of documents, and many require an original government document to have been issued within 3 months of the apostille being affixed. This is especially the case in relation to birth and marriage certificates issued by the State Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM). You must check the local requirements. Often, it is the original BDM that requires an apostille, not a translation of it.
Online verification is available for apostilles issued by Australia on or after 14 December 2015. To verify an apostille online, visit the verify an apostille page.
Documents going to countries that are not party to the Hague Convention generally require an authentication. These countries include China, the UAE, Iraq, and many others. Some countries impose restrictions on how an authentication is affixed. For example, you may not be allowed to have an Australian notary public certify your foreign document as a true copy for the purposes of having an authentication affixed.
Can I get both certifications?
There may be occasions when you wish to use the same document in multiple countries, some of which may be signatories to the Hague Convention and other which are not. To ensure that your document is acceptable to the receiving country, it would be in your best interests to have two original documents legalised – one with an authentication and the other with an apostille.
What documents can be legalised?
Overseas, we can only authenticate Australian public documents or foreign documents intended for use in Australia that have already been authenticated by the local foreign affairs department or other approved agency.
In the case of Australian public documents, in order to be accepted for authentication or apostille, you must present the original document issued by an Australian government department or agency with an official signature or seal.
As a general guide the documents most commonly requiring an apostille are original birth, death, marriage, divorce or change of name certificates issued by a Registry Office in Australia, or an Australian Court and original AFP criminal history checks.
Laminated or damaged documents will be refused for legalisation. Replacements will need to be obtained from the issuing authority.
Education documents presented to DFAT for an authentication or apostille must have been issued by an Australian accredited education authority. See the Australian Qualifications Framework website for more information on who can issue education documents in Australia. If your education document was issued by an institution in a foreign country, it will need to be authenticated or apostilled by that country, not by DFAT.
In the case of private documents, such as a power of attorney or an article of association for a company, it must first have been certified and or witnessed by an Australian notary public (in Australia) or an Australian diplomatic or consular officer in accordance with the Consular Fees Act 1955 for an authentication. Copies of documents made by consular and diplomatic officers cannot be issued with an apostille (except copies of Australian Passports).
The following guide will assist in the preparation of documents prior to lodgement with an Australian overseas mission. Getting your documents ready in the correct form will prevent delays in the processing of your application.
Where you want to use a copy of an Australian Public document to obtain an apostille, you will either need to post the documents to Australia and have a copy made by an Australian Notary Public, or, if you are currently located in an Apostille Convention country, arrange to have a local Notary Public certify the document and then approach the local competent authority for an apostille (not the Australian high commission or embassy).
For example, you are currently in India (Apostille Country) and you have an Australian (Apostille Country) document (eg a birth certificate) that you need to send to Italy (Apostille Country) in support of a visa application. A copy of your Australian document can be certified by a Notary Public in India, and then the competent authority in India would issue an apostille confirming the notary who made the copy is a true notary.
Second option is that you could order a replacement original document from Australia and then present it to the Australian mission for our staff to issue an apostille against the signature and seal of the Australian Registrar that appears on the original document. It is for this reason, that many countries require apostilles to be placed on original documents.
What do I need to do to have my document legalised?
|Type of document||What you should do before lodgement|
|An original Australian Government document (such as a certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Australian court document, police issued fingerprints or AFP/State police check)||You can submit the document to us without further requirements. Note: We cannot accept commemorative certificates, such as the ‘Certificate of Marriage’ bearing the signature of the bride and groom.|
|A photocopy of an Australian government document (including a copy of an Australian passport)||Your document must be certified, signed and sealed by an Australian notary public|
|An Australian private document (including company documents, wills and powers of attorney)||Your document must be certified, signed and sealed by an Australian notary public|
|An Australian commercial document with a signature or seal from ASIC, the ATO, the TGA or trademarks office. Note – Some commercial documents issued by Australian government agencies such as ASIC or the ATO only use computer generated signatures or seals.||You can submit the document to us without further requirements if it contains a signature or seal (whether ink or electronic). Electronic documents or printouts from online ASIC registers with no signature or seal can only be authenticated (not apostilled)|
|A business chamber or chamber of commerce and industry document||These can only be authenticated. If you require an apostille, your document must be certified, signed and sealed by an Australian notary public|
|An original Australian public university document/degree||Your degree or award must be verified and signed as a ‘true and accurate record’ by the central student administration office of the issuing institution, unless that institution has a public online verification register. For other documents most universities have an existing arrangement with DFAT to have certain staff provide a verification of content. When you contact your university’s student administration centre to arrange this, let them know that your document needs to be signed for DFAT. See below for list of universities with online verification or contacts for central student administration offices. Copies can be certified by an Australian notary public. The notarial certificate should state the record has been verified with the issuing institution. A statement by a Notary that the document is a ‘true copy’ does not satisfy the verification requirement.|
|An Australian state technical college (CIT, TAFE etc), or tertiary institution qualification or document issued by an Australian public education institution||You can submit the original document to us without further requirements. Copies can be certified by an Australian notary public.|
|An Australian secondary school qualification (such as HSC, VCE etc) or document||Your document must be verified and signed by an authorised officer of the relevant issuing organisation (eg. the NSW Board of Studies, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, etc) or an Australian notary public.|
|An Australian public primary school document||Your document must be signed by an authorised officer of the state/territory Department of Education. Most education departments have an existing arrangement with DFAT to have certain staff provide this service. When you contact the education department to arrange this, let them know that your document needs to be signed for DFAT.|
|An Australian private college/school/tertiary institution qualification or document||Documents from Australian accredited private schools, colleges, and institutions offering tertiary qualifications will need to be certified and sealed by an Australian notary public|
|Foreign language documents|
|Translations||Your translation must be completed, certified and signed by a translator accredited through the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd (NAATI). The translator must sign both a copy of the original document, and the translated document and certify that it is a “true and accurate translation of the text provided on the attached”|
|Documents prepared by an Australian notary public in a foreign language||You can submit the document to us without further requirements.|
Australian university contacts for verifying content as a ‘true and accurate record’.
|University||Method of verification|
|Australian National University (ANU)||Online verification available for some awards. If your award is not listed contact email@example.com to discuss options.|
|Bond University||Online verification available for some awards|
|Central Queensland University||Email verification available through the Student Business Centre. You may need to provide a signed consent form to DFAT or your notary public (if using a certified copy)|
|Curtin University||Online verification available for some awards|
|Deakin University||Online verification available for some awards|
|Edith Cowan University||Online verification available for some awards|
|Griffith University||Online verification available for some awards|
|La Trobe University||Email the Student Centre to discuss options|
|Macquarie University||Online verification available for some awards|
|Monash University||Online verification available for some awards|
|Murdoch University||Online verification available for some awards|
|Queensland University of Technology (QUT)||Online verification available for some awards|
|Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)||Online verification available for some awards|
|Swinburne University of Technology||Online verification available for some awards|
|The University of Queensland||Online verification available for some awards|
|University of Melbourne||Online verification available for some awards|
|University of New South Wales (UNSW)||Email the Student Central or the Transcripts area to discuss options|
|University of Newcastle||You will need to request and complete an authorisation form from the University of Newcastle for them to verify the academic record.|
|University of South Australia||Online verification available for some awards|
|University of Sydney||Email the Academic Records Section to discuss options|
|University of Tasmania||Online verification available for some awards|
|University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)||Online verification available for some awards|
|University of Western Australia||Online verification available for some awards|
|University of Wollongong||Online verification available for some awards|
|Western Sydney University||Online verification available for some awards|
What is a notary public?
A notary public is not the same as a Justice of the Peace (JP).
Within Australia, notaries public are senior legal practitioners who prepare, attest, witness and certify original and copied legal documents for use overseas. DFAT officers are not notaries public. A list of Australian notaries public can be found on Supreme Court or Law Society listings for each state or territory. You can also search in telephone directories using the search ‘Notary Public’ and your post code. Alternatively use the Society of Notaries responsible for your state listed below:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Many professionals in Australia can witness signatures and certify copies of documents under Australian domestic legislation. For the purpose of legalising your document for use overseas, (ie through an authentication or apostille), DFAT cannot accept documents signed by these professionals. Only documents signed and/or witnessed by Australian notaries public can be accepted for an apostille. For an authentication, Australian consular or diplomatic officers can witness you signing forms or make copies. The Apostille Convention does not apply to consular or diplomatic officer signatures. .
Generally, Justices of the Peace (JP) cannot sign documents for DFAT legalisation purposes. The exception is documents from Western Australia signed by JPs who perform the function in relation to their role within a local court. We also cannot accept documents signed by foreign notaries public.
When presenting multiple page documents for authentication or apostille, please ensure every page has been signed in full or the pages have been legally bound by an Australian notary public.
Note: Services provided by notary public will incur a fee.
What if my document is not Australian in origin?
Legalisations are available at foreign embassies and consulates in Australia. If you have a foreign document requiring authentication or apostille, you should contact the embassy or consulate of the country that issued the document to arrange it. Depending on the services provided by the issuing country’s embassy or consulate, this may entail sending your documents back to the country of origin.
If you are in the foreign country, it is usually their Ministry of Foreign Affairs who issues the authentication or apostille.
If your document has been signed/witnessed by a foreign Notary public, it is that country’s government authority that must legalise the document, not Australian embassies or high commissions. It’s important to remember that an apostille issued by Australia (either an Australian Passport Office in a capital city or through an Australian mission overseas) cannot be relied on in Australia. One issued by Italy cannot be relied on in Italy – it is only used in a foreign country.
I want to get married overseas – can DFAT help?
Neither DFAT nor its missions overseas can advise on other countries’ specific requirements for Australians to get married overseas. For details of marriage requirements you should contact authorities in the country in which you would like to marry for their advice.
If you are an Australian citizen wishing to marry overseas, the foreign government may request that you have a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) issued. Some foreign authorities will only accept CNIs issued by the Australian mission (embassy or consulate) within their country of accreditation. If you are getting married overseas you will need to confirm with the foreign government:
- Whether or not the CNI is required
- Where it should be issued (ie in Australia or through an Australian mission overseas)
- If it needs any additional legalisation (authentication or apostille)
- If a ‘Single Status Certificate’ or ‘No Record Result’ issued by the Registry of Briths, Deaths and Marriages in your state or territory could be used instead of a CNI to ascertain your civil status
If you confirm that the foreign government will accept a CNI issued from within Australia, please download and complete the application form and provide a certified copy of your Australian passport and similar identity documents for your partner. We also require proof of dissolution of any previous marriages (such as a divorce or death certificate). Note that your application must be ready to be lodged with all supporting documents for the applicant and partner. We will not accept incomplete submissions.
You will need to provide the following documents with your application:
- Copy of Australian passport OR Australian birth certificate
- Copy of Permanent Residence Visa (if applicable)
- Copy of Divorce Certificate (if applicable)
- Copy of former partner’s Death Certificate (if applicable)
- If under 18 years of age, copy of the judicial authorisation to marry issued by an Australian court of law
- Copy of Australian/Foreign passport
- Copy of Permanent Residence Visa (if applicable)
- Copy of Divorce Certificate (if applicable)
- Copy of former partner’s Death Certificate (if applicable)
- If under 18 years of age, copy of the judicial authorisation to marry issued by an Australian court of law
Please note that all documents must be certified as true copies of the original documents. If the partner resides overseas, copies can be certified by a Consular Officer or Diplomatic Officer at the closest Australian Embassy, Australian High Commission or Australian Consulate-General. Certified copies can also be witnessed by any person or agency recognised by the law of the country in which the partner lives.
Please note that DFAT does not issue ‘Single Status Certificates’ or ‘No Record Results’. These are issued by the State Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages. DFAT can authenticate or apostille (in Australia) an original document issued by the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages by confirming the signature of the registrar or seal appearing on the document is genuine.
How can I get an authentication, apostille or CNI?
You may submit your application over the counter at the nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission. Turnaround time may vary at individual missions and will be dependent on submission of appropriate documentation. An appointment may be required. At some locations, a mail-in service may be available. Please contact the mission for advice.
Certifying copies of original documents
How to get a certified copy of an original document
Take your original documents and instructions to your nearest Australian diplomatic or consular office. Only Australian documents or foreign documents intended for use in Australia can be certified by DFAT. If asked to certify a copy of an Australian education document, please be aware that if you intend to have it legalised (through authentication) it may need to satisfy other verification requirements before we can complete that service. Documents certified by Australian consular or diplomatic officers are not eligible for an apostille.
DFAT staff will photocopy the relevant documents, stamp the documents with the following certificate “This is a true copy of the document presented to me” and sign the certificate with pen and a seal. If a different form of words is required, the document may need to be certified by a local notary public or the body from which the document originated.
Certifying a copy of an original document is not the same as authentication or legalisation.
Often certified copies can be made by alternative authorised witnesses. For example you may be permitted to have a copy certified by a local lawyer, notary public or other professionals. You should check with the organisation or agency who has requested the document.
Why is it necessary to have a signature witnessed?
Various Australian laws often require signatures on a document be witnessed or authenticated before the document can be relied upon legally. Solicitors, Justices of the Peace, and other authorised witnesses perform such functions within Australia. Many laws allow consular officers at Australian diplomatic and consular missions overseas to perform this service. DFAT officers who perform this service do so under the Consular Fees Act 1955 and are required to charge a fee.
How to get a signature witnessed
The precise requirements for the effective witnessing of a document are dictated by the jurisdiction in which the document is to be used. It is up to you to check the other jurisdiction’s requirements before bringing the documents to an Australian mission for witnessing. It is your responsibility to present the document to be witnessed in the correct form and to provide the correct instructions for witnessing. DFAT staff do not have the authority to provide legal advice.
When attending the mission to have your signature witnessed, you will also need to bring your passport with you to confirm your identity.
Often your signature on a document can be witnessed by alternative authorised witnesses. For example you may be permitted to have a local lawyer, notary public or other professional witness you signing the document. You should check with the organisation or agency who has requested the document.
On 10 March 2015, Australia acceded to the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will 1973 (International Will Convention). All Australian states and territories have passed legislation to give effect to the convention. International Wills cannot be witnessed by Australian consular or diplomatic officers. An International Will drawn up in Australia must be witnessed by an Australian legal practitioner or Australian Notary Public. To create one overseas, it must be drawn up under the laws of the foreign country. Australian missions overseas can provide a list of local English speaking lawyers.
Selling or buying land or property in Australia?
Australian states and territories have rules in relation to land or property transactions in Australia. One of the rules is that a face-to-face interview must be conducted with the individual who is signing a property document and that the identification documents used to verify a person’s identity must be presented. If you require a form to be witnessed and/or need identification documents certified, we can perform these functions for you (fees apply). You should check with your Australian representative what is required before seeking the services of an Australian mission overseas. If you require verification of identity for a property transaction, you must attend the mission with a prepared Client Authorisation or mortgage and Certification, original identification documents and the Subscriber or mortgagee’s written instructions. It is a requirement that the instructions from your legal representative in Australia be provided in addition to the documents you need witnessed or certified. Australian consular officers will provide you with a DFAT Certificate of Identity confirming that they have witnessed and certified your documents in accordance with the instructions from your legal representative. Where instructions from your legal representative are not provided, the services will be declined. Copies of documents and witnessing the signing of forms are performed in accordance with the policies and procedures approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, this includes using a Common Seal, writing or printing the name and title of the officer and the location the service was provided on each of the documents we service.
What is a Statutory Declaration?
A Statutory Declaration is a written statement of fact or belief and may generally be made in relation to any matter. The person making the declaration acknowledges that it is true and correct and that a person making a false declaration may be liable for penalties.
Commonwealth, state and territory jurisdictions in Australia all provide for making of Statutory Declarations. Australian consular or diplomatic officer are only permitted to witness an Australian Statutory Declaration being made for use in Australia by an Australian entity.
How do I make a statutory declaration?
On the form which has been provided to you, you should write in clear letters the declaration you wish to make, including your full name, occupation and address and take it to the nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission. (Commonwealth Statutory Declaration forms may be obtained from the mission or the Attorney-General’s Department website.) Do not sign the declaration.
You should also bring with you your passport as this will be used for proof of identity. The consular official will need to confirm your identity and then witness you actually signing the declaration. The signature on the declaration will then be compared with the signature in your passport.
By witnessing your signature, the consular official is simply confirming your identity as the person claiming to make the declaration. The consular officer is in no way attesting to the truth or veracity of the content of the statement. Statutory Declarations can be made in foreign languages, however you will need to confirm if there are other requirements by the requesting authority to allow it to be accepted (i.e. if it must be translated into English for use in Australia, and the translator make a separate declaration).
Some states/territories do not allow all diplomatic or consular officers to witness a declaration. Before taking your document to the Australian mission for witnessing, it is your responsibility to ensure that the particular form being used allows for diplomatic or consular officer to witness it. Usually this information be can found on the reverse side of the form, however, if you are unsure, you should contact the authority requiring the declaration, or your legal adviser, to ascertain if witnessing by a diplomatic or consular official is acceptable.
Another option would be to complete a ‘Commonwealth Statutory Declaration’ (as opposed to a particular state or territory form) as Australian diplomatic and consular officials, including specifically authorised local consular employees, are eligible to witness Commonwealth declarations. Commonwealth Statutory Declaration forms may be obtained from the mission.
What is an Affidavit?
An affidavit is a written statement that allows the person making it to present evidence in court or other legal proceedings. The person making the affidavit must take an oath (a sworn commitment based on religious belief) or make an affirmation (a secular sworn commitment) that the contents of the affidavit are true and correct. It is generally an offence to swear to or affirm false information.
DFAT’s role is to witness the affidavit and administer the oath or affirmation. It does not attest to the authenticity or truth of the content of the evidence or information.
How can I get an Affidavit?
The precise form that an affidavit takes is dictated by the relevant Commonwealth, state or territory legislation under which the affidavit is made or the proceedings in which the evidence contained in the affidavit is to be relied on. An affidavit that has not been drawn up correctly may not be legally effective. It is your responsibility to provide the document/s in the correct form and to provide any additional witnessing/administering instructions which should have been provided to you. Please obtain clear instructions from your legal advisor or the entity requiring the affidavit before attending the Australian diplomatic or consular mission. DFAT does not provide legal advice and takes no responsibility for the correctness of the form of an affidavit.
Please contact your nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission to arrange a suitable time to deliver the relevant documents and instructions. You must personally attend the mission in order to complete an affidavit.
How much does it cost?
Costs, in Australian dollars, will be displayed in the reception area of the mission. Payment is usually made in local currency converted at the official bank rate. Contact the mission to find out the local currency equivalent.
Current fee schedule (until 31 December 2016)
The table below lists fees in Australian dollars for the most frequently requested services. A full listing of current fees is available in the Consular Fees Regulations 1990.
|Administering an oath or receiving a declaration or affirmation, with or without witness of signature||$20|
|Marking an exhibit to an affidavit or declaration in writing||$10|
a. a signature; or
b. the seal; or
c. the signature and seal;
of an authority or person
|Making and certifying a copy of a document or part of a document||$30 (additional fees may apply).|
|Verifying and certifying a copy of a document or part of a document||$30 (additional fees may apply).|
|Binding documents and affixing a seal to the fastening||$20|
|Issuing a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI)||$90|
Fee schedule from 1 January 2017
The table below lists fees in Australian dollars for the most frequently requested services. A full listing of fees applicable from 1 January 2017 is available in the Consular Fees Amendment (Fees and Indexation) Regulation 2016.
|Administering an oath or receiving a declaration or affirmation||$70|
|Effecting, or attempting to effect, service of a document and issuing a certificate or affidavit of service or attempted service of a document||$70|
|Witnessing a signature or seal on a form or declaration||$70|
|Preparing a declaration or other document||$70|
|Verifying and certifying a copy of a document or part of a document||$70|
|Signing a document, or affixing a seal to a document or other article||$70|
|Witnessing the execution of a will||$70|
|Transmitting a document or other article through official channels||$70|
|Transferring funds through official accounts, other than for the purposes of the realisation of a deceased estate||$70|
|Preparation and issue of an Apostille certificate||$80|
|Preparation and issue of an Authentication certificate||$80|
|Preparation and issue of a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage||$140|
Payment options will vary depending on local banking facilities and arrangements in the country. Payments by cash are most common when oversea (you cannot pay by cash in Australia)
- VISA or MasterCard and EFPTOS are only available at a limited number of locations, local financial arrangements permitting. Please check before applying for the service.
How long does it take?
Processing time may vary in individual missions, depending on several factors including the size of the mission and the number of staff available.
There may be a delay if:
- a specimen signature of the official who has signed the document requiring authentication is not available on our database (this means we will need to obtain from Australia that official’s signature for verification)
- there is any question about the authenticity of a document; or
- if other required documentation has not been provided such as explanatory notes to accompany forms you are required to sign in the presence of a consular officer.
Are there any restrictions on who at the Australian mission can help me?
Overseas, Australia-based (A-based) DFAT diplomatic and consular officers, including Austrade A-based officers employed in an Austrade-run consulate can provide the notarial and legalisation services listed below:
- witnessing and taking of affidavits, oaths or affirmations
- witnessing you signing Commonwealth statutory declarations and other Commonwealth forms (some state government forms and private sector forms are also allowed to be witnessed by DFAT staff)
- witnessing applications forms for, and issuing of, Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI)
- witnessing notices of intended marriage
- performing legalisation of signatures and/or seals on Australian public documents (authentication or apostille)
- certifying true copies of documents (that are either Australian or intended for use in Australia) or photographs (needed to accompany Australian forms)
With the permission of the host government, specifically designated Locally Engaged Staff can also be authorised to provide limited and specific acts.
Australian consulates headed by Honorary Consuls and Canadian missions delivering consular assistance in locations where there are no Australian missions are not permitted to provide the services above (unless it is in relation to an Australian passport application and they are authorised to interview clients).
Reference : Overseas