Smart Travellers Call a Public Notary
If you're planning on hitting the old dusty trail you may want to consider paying a visit to your local public notary. It's important when travelling or doing business overseas to ensure that you can, without a doubt, prove your identity. A Public Notary can certify your documents for you before you jet off, so if you're planning on studying or working overseas keep reading to make sure you're well prepared for the road ahead.
Authenticating Your Documents
Overseas authorities may request that you have your Australian documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.) 'authenticated' or 'apostilled' by a Public Notary and by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It's important that before you contact your Public Notary or state office that you familiarise yourself with the exact notarial requests stipulated by your destination's government authorities in order to ensure you are receiving the appropriate service.
One service you can request of you public notary is 'Authentication,' this essentially is what it sounds like -- we witness the signature, seal or stamp on a document and then verify it with our own stamp and signature certifying their authenticity. Authentication certificates are used for Australian documents when citizens are dealing with government officials in China, Vietnam and most of the Middle East, amongst others.
Similar to an Authentication is an Apostille; an Apostille Certificate is the same process as an Authentication, but is only accepted by those countries who are signatories to The Hague Convention of 1961. Those under The Hague Convention include some of Australia's expat's favourite places to live, work and study -- like Italy, Sweden, Japan and the UK -- so it's important to check on the HCCH website if the country you're travelling to may require you to have your documents Apostilled.
These processes have been put in place to prevent fraud within the international community. Once we're satisfied your documents are true and legal documents we will sign and seal them with an internationally recognised stamp of approval.
What Will I Need?
Prior to calling your Public Notary you want to first contact the government of the country concerned to decipher what documents you may need to have Authenticated/Apostilled. You may or may not need any of your documents certified in this way, but if you do you will only be able to garner this knowledge from the organisation you are dealing with as Australian Embassies don't have that knowledge available to them.
Examples of documents that are regularly required to be Authenticated or Apostilled include your birth certificate, marriage certificate, educational certificates from Australian institutions, a power of attorney certificate or medical certificate. The documents needed will depend on what your business with the other country is and what documents they stipulate are necessary.
You can take any official Australian Government document like a Birth, Deaths or Marriages certificate, straight to the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade state office. However non-government issued documents, like medical certificates, legal documents or business documents, will have to first be witnessed, stamped and signed by your Public Notary.
Always remember it's your responsibility to travel and do business abroad as safely as possible. Do your research before leaving the country and ensure you've contact all the appropriate officials before your journey. Bon Voyage!