A Notary Public, Public Notary, or Notary are various descriptions of the same functionary.
An Australian Notary Public, Public Notary, or Notary, is a public officer, usually a practising solicitor or attorney, appointed for life by a State or Territory Supreme Court, or by an English Archbishop in the case of Queensland, and given statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths, and perform other wide-ranging and useful administrative functions of a national and international nature.
A Notary Public not only takes oaths, signs and witnesses documents for use within Australia, but also performs similar functions in respect of international documents for use outside Australia.
A Justice of the Peace (JP) or Commissioner for Affidavits in Australia provide services similar to American notaries, but American notaries are not qualified to witness documents for use in foreign countries as Australian notaries are. Australian notaries have this exclusive right and are the only true international "JP's" practising in Australia.
Notaries Public affix their official seal (usually impressed onto a red or gold sticker) or inked stamp, onto documents immediately under, adjacent or as near as possible to their signatures.
All Notaries' seals and signatures are officially recorded in a data base held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), an Australian government department authorised to issue Apostille or Authentication Certificates certifying that the signatures, seals or stamps of Notaries on Australian public documents are genuine.
Public Notaries also have their signatures, seals or stamps registered with their State or Territory Supreme Court to whom they are answerable to, and with their local Notary Society, if one exists in their State or Territory, and if a member.
What does a Notary Public actually do?
A Notary Public principally:
Attests documents and certifies their due execution for use in Australia and overseas countries
Prepares and certifies powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents, for use in Australia and overseas countries
Administers oaths for Australian and international documents
Witnesses signatures to affidavits, statutory declarations, powers of attorney, contracts, and other documents, for use in Australia and overseas countries
Verifies documents for use in Australia and overseas countries
Certifies copy documents for use in Australia and overseas countries
Exemplifies official documents for use internationally
Notes and protests bills of exchange
Prepares ships' protests
A Public Notary must...
Confirm the true identity of a signatory by careful examination of an identity document, such as a current Driver's Licence or Passport;
Determine that a signatory does not suffer any legal incapacity, such as a congenital disability, physical or mental illness, physical
Ensure that a signatory fully understands the nature and effect of the contents of a document to be signed and witnessed;
Ascertain that a signatory acting in an official representative capacity e.g. a secretary or director of an ASIC registered Company, has the Company's authority to sign on behalf of the Company; and
Refuse notary services if a document constitutes a fraud or an unlawful act.
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