Do you know who can witness your documents or what a notary public officer is? This article answers a range of questions on who can witness your documents being signed

Who can witness my documents?

There are certain documents that are required to be witnessed and signed by an ‘eligible witness’.

Under section 31 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld), an ‘eligible witness’ is described as a justice of the peace, a commissioner for taking declarations, a notary public, or a lawyer.

The following documents are required to be formally executed in the presence of an ‘eligible witness’:

  • Statutory declarations;
  • Affidavits;
  • Government documents;
  • Powers of Attorney; and
  • Advanced Health Directives.

Other tasks that may require the services of a justice of the peace, commissioner for taking declarations, notary public or lawyer include:

  • Witnessing signatures on contracts, deeds and other documents;
  • Certifying true and original documents;
  • Witnessing and administering affirmations or oaths;
  • Certifying a person’s identity; and
  • Dealing with documentation for land, property and deceased estates.

Where any of the above documents are intended to be used overseas, only a notary public can witness and certify the document.

What is a notary public officer?

A notary public authenticates documents and transactions so that they can be effective overseas.

A notary public can also certify the proper execution or signing of any sort of document that is to be used overseas, and if required, confirm that it is binding under Australian law.

Australians who are overseas and need to sign a document intended for use in Australia that requires an ‘eligible witness’ will need to sign the document in the presence of a notary public, or attend the Australian consulate or embassy. The website for the Australian consulate or embassy in the relevant country will set out the process for making an appointment for notary services, and confirm whether there is a fee payable for the service.

Where can I find a notary public?

Stone Group Lawyers can assist you with all of your witnessing and certifying needs for documents intended to be used in Australia. We will work with you to ensure that you have peace of mind that your documents are correctly executed and legally binding. Contact our office on (07) 5635 0180 to book your appointment today.

Alternatively, if you are specifically looking for a notary public, the Society of Notaries of Queensland Inc. website allows you to search for your closest notary public: http://www.societyofnotaries-qld.org/find-a-notary/

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