The legalisation convention is the convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents, also known as the Apostille Convention (5 October 1961). This convention does not completely abolish legalisation but shortens the chain so that only a single action is required, the addition of an apostille. A document bearing an apostille does not require any further legalisation by the embassy or consulate of the country in which it is to be used.
An Australian public document must be "legalised" or formally proved valid and genuine, before it is accepted by overseas businesses, governments or courts.
Apostille Certificates prove conclusively that Australian public documents are authentic and genuine for this purpose.
However, Australian public documents legalised by Apostille Certificates are restricted in their use to only those countries which are signatories to The Hague Convention.
Authenticating documents for use overseas (including Apostilles)
Overseas authorities will often request that you have your Australian documents (for example a birth certificate) ‘authenticated’ or ‘apostilled’. It is vital that you confirm the exact notarial service requirements before having documents processed at an Australian mission. Unfortunately, clients have often requested incorrect, unnecessary or additional notarial services from Australian embassies overseas because they did not fully understand the requirements of the notarial service required.
One of the notarial services we provide is an Authentication, which is when we verify a signature, stamp or seal on certain types of Australian documents. Once verified, we stamp and sign the document confirming that we have verified the signature or seal on the document.
Another similar service we provide is an Apostille. This is only provided through DFAT offices in Australia. Apostilles are basically authentications but are only used in some countries.
Vertifying copies of original documents
How to get a certified copy of an original document?
Take your original documents and instructions to you closest Australian Embassy, High Commission, Consulate or Consulate-
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. If a different form of words is required, the document may need to be certified by a Notary Public or the body from which the document originated.
Some jurisdictions allow only the originator of official documents to certify copies of those documents.
Why is it necessary to have a signature witnessed?
The law often requires that a signature on a document be witnessed or authenticated before the document can be relied on legally. Solicitors, Justices of the Peace, and Notaries Public perform such functions within Australia, but consular officers at Australian Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates and Consulate-
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 relied. It is up to you to check the other jurisdiction's requirements before bringing the documents to a Australian mission for witnessing. It is the your responsibility to present the document to be witnessed in the correct form and to provide the correct instructions for witnessing.
DFAT staff don't have the authority to provide legal advice, to draw up legal documents or to guarantee the legal effectiveness of documents they witness.
Mailing documents to us
Do documents have to be brought in or can I mail them?
Documents requiring certification, Apostille or Authentication can be mailed to the relevant DFAT office/s along with the correct payment. Any documents that require witnessing of signatures cannot be mailed in and must be presented in person.
Requirements for mailing in documents:
When mailing documents to DFAT you need to send:
The original document with the relevant signature/stamp/seal affixed. For multi-
Your contact details and detail of the country/s where the document is to be used.
Documents that are mailed without the correct payment will be returned unprocessed by normal post (unless a pre-
DFAT will normally return documents by regular mail. If you require a document to be returned by express or registered post you must provide a pre-
Please check State and Territory office websites for mailing addresses and other contact details.
Australian Capital Territory
Canberra Passport Office
Postal address: Canberra Passport Office, c/o Authentications Officer, GPO Box 9807, Canberra, ACT, 0221
Telephone: 02 6261 3644
Office hours: Mon-
Queensland State Office, Brisbane
New South Wales
Sydney Passport Office
Northern Territory Office, Darwin
South Australia State Office, Adelaide
Tasmania State Office, Hobart
Melbourne Passport Office
Western Australia State Office, Perth
The Consular Fees Act of 1955 sets out the level of fees to be charged for the performance of various notarial acts by DFAT.
Affidavit, Administering an Oath -
Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage -
Certifying a copy of an original document -
Witnessing Signatures -