Attachment B – Categories of Signatures/Documents

Adoption documents

Authentication and Apostilles: can be placed on inter-country adoption documents that have been notarised by a Notary Public. If you need to notarise an individual document (eg marriage certificate), you can follow the instructions according to those documents. Clients seeking advice as to the documentation that may be required for inter-country adoptions should be directed either to the relevant State or Territory Community Services Department or the representative of the country concerned.

Attorney General's Dept – documents prepared for overseas courts

Authentications and Apostilles: may be placed on documents signed and/or sealed by officials from the Attorney-General's Department and/or by the relevant Australian court.

Birth certificates

Authentications and Apostilles: may be issued on certificates containing the recognised signature and seal of the relevant State or Territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. If it is not possible to obtain an original signature/seal for comparison, the client should be advised to obtain a new certified copy of the certificate.

Commercial documents of various types (export certificates, certificates of origin, customs documents, certificates of registration of a business, certificates of free sale, company extracts, deeds of assignment, tender documents, registered trade marks, company constitutions)

Authentication: may only be issued on commercial documents that have been notarised by a Notary Public, WA Justice of the Peace, a Justice of the Peace in a court house, Clerk or Registrar of a court, a government agency, or a chamber of commerce and industry (see below).

Bearers of commercial documents are often seeking authentication for the purpose of determining that the company is a legitimate Australian company. The Department is unable to do this. A Notary Public, however is able to perform this function.

Chambers of Commerce and Industry

The Department can authenticate (but not place an Apostille upon) documents produced by Chambers of Commerce and Industry registered in their respective State or Territory or recognised by foreign missions in Australia (eg Arab Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry).

Requests by other bodies representing legitimate business/trade interests in Australia for authentication of their signature/seal by the Department should be made in writing to the relevant State or Territory Director. Requests should include the following information: the body's legal status; the countries with which they trade; the amount of trade they represent; and references, including from relevant government agencies. In reaching a decision on whether or not it is appropriate to authenticate their signature/seal, Directors may choose to consult Consular Branch, the relevant geographic and trade areas, and Austrade.

Apostilles: Under the Hague (Apostille) Convention, commercial documents of an administrative nature dealing directly with commercial or customs operations eg. Export certificates, certificate of origin are exempt from requiring an Apostille. Apostilles may however be placed on a Notary Public's certificate appearing on a commercial document.

Consular and diplomatic documents issued by foreign missions in Australia

Authentications: may be issued on documents containing the signature and seal of diplomatic or consular officers who have been accredited in Australia.

Apostilles: cannot be issued on documents containing the signature and seal of diplomatic or consular officers who have been accredited in Australia. This is because an Apostille cannot be placed on a 'foreign' document. These documents are not considered Australian documents.

Documents issued by Australian Diplomatic or Consular Missions Overseas

Authentications and Apostilles: may be issued on documents containing the signature and seal of a diplomatic or consular officer or an officer authorised by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade to perform notarial acts at Australian missions overseas.

Death certificates

Authentications and Apostilles: may be issued on certificates containing the recognised signature and seal of the relevant State or Territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. If it is not possible to obtain an original signature/seal for comparison, the client should be advised to obtain a new certified copy of the certificate.

Dept of Defence – End user certificates (weapons)

Authentication and Apostilles: may be placed on end user certificates containing the appropriate signature/seal of an official of the Department of Defence. Please note that some countries party to the Hague Convention will still request clients to obtain an authentication (rather than an Apostille) to enable missions to be aware of any trade in weaponry.

Divorce Documents

Authentication and Apostilles: can be placed on documents issued by the Family Court of Australia and other Australian courts. Often these documents do not contain signatures. In verifying the seal you may wish to confirm that the document was issued by the relevant Court.

Driver's Licence

Authentication and Apostilles: cannot be placed on Australian drivers licences. Clients should be advised to request from the Australian motor registry that issued the licence a signed and stamped statement describing the capacity of the driver's licence and any cancellations or convictions against the licence. An authentication or Apostille may then be issued on the motor registry's signature and stamp.

Educational certificates – including degrees/diplomas, transcripts, school reports, graduate certificates

This category of documents poses particular problems with respect to fraud and the different approaches by State and Territory educational institutions and authorities. These guidelines should not be seen as prescriptive. State and Territory offices should as far as possible seek to meet the spirit of these guidelines. Clients should, where possible, be referred to the relevant DFAT State or Territory office for advice if needed.

Primary and Secondary Educational Documents

Authentications and Apostilles: cannot be placed on primary or secondary school documentation (including Catholic and private schools). Such documents should bear an original signature and stamp of an appropriate certifying officer from the relevant government educational authority in the state or territory in which the document was issued. Failing that, documents should be attested by a Notary Public.

Tertiary Educational Documents

Authentications: cannot be placed on documents from colleges, universities, CITs and TAFEs bearing computer generated signatures and seals unless they have been certified by the student administration office of the institution as being a "true and accurate record" or notarised by a Notary Public. The certificate can then be authenticated. (The exception to this requirement is educational documents with computer generated signatures and seals received in bulk direct from educational institutions with which DFAT deals on a regular basis and which include a covering letter from that institution.)

Apostilles: cannot be placed on documents from private educational institutions. These will need to be certified by an officer from a government regulatory body or by a Notary Public. Apostilles cannot be placed on documents from public education institutions bearing computer generated signatures and seals unless they have been certified by the student administration office of the institution as being a "true and accurate record" or have been notarised by a Notary Public. (The exception to this requirement is educational documents with computer generated signatures and seals received in bulk direct from public educational institutions with which DFAT deals on a regular basis and which include a covering letter from that institution.)

If doubt exists as to whether or not a particular document is issued by a government or private educational authority, the document should be notarised by a Notary Public. If an educational institution no longer exists, the document should be notarised by a Notary Public.

Foreign Officials

Authentications and Apostilles: may be issued on documents containing the recognised signature and seal of the relevant foreign mission in Australia or, in the case of foreign documents presented to Australian diplomatic and consular missions overseas, the signature and seal of the relevant foreign ministry only.

Marriage certificates

Authentications and Apostilles: may be issued on certificates containing the recognised signature and seal of the relevant State or Territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. If it is not possible to obtain an original signature/seal for comparison, the client should be advised to obtain a new certified copy of the certificate. Authentications and Apostilles may only be issued on the full marriage certificate of a Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, not those issued by marriage celebrants.

Medical Documents

Authentication: Doctors signatures may be authenticated. Officers may, however, depending on workloads, require medical certificates to be certified by the relevant medical board.

Apostilles: Medical documents must first be certified by an appropriate certifying officer at the Department of Health or government health authority /regulatory body or Notary Public.

Motor Registry statements

See driver's licences for use overseas

Personal References

Authentication and Apostilles: cannot be placed on personal references. Clients will need such documents signed either by a Notary Public or a Court official, such as a Justice of the Peace working at a Court House.

Photocopies

Authentication: photocopies of documents must not be authenticated unless they have been certified as being a true copy of the original document by a:

The photocopied document must bear an original signature of one of the above certifying officials.

Apostilles: Photocopies of documents must not be issued with an Apostille unless they have been certified as being a true copy of the original document by a:

The photocopied document must bear an original signature of one of the above certifying officials.

Police documents

Authentication and Apostilles: can be placed on documents issued by State and Federal police officers, including police clearances and fingerprint information. Depending on workload demands in this area, State or Territory Offices can make individual arrangements with relevant State or Territory police services to limit the signatures and or seals they notarise.

Power of Attorney documents

Authentication and Apostilles: can be placed on powers of attorney witnessed by a Notary Public. A power of attorney can often be used overseas providing it complies with the host country's requirements. Most countries will require that a power of attorney, which is prepared in Australia for use overseas be witnessed by a Notary Public; notarised by DFAT; and then by the host country's diplomatic or consular representative. Clients can find out

information about a host country's requirements from that country's Consulate or High Commission/Embassy in Australia or by seeking private legal advice.

Wills

Authentication and Apostilles: can be issued on wills that have been signed by a Notary Public, Justice of the Peace working at a Court or a Clerk of the Court/Registrar of the Court. NB: While we accept signatures of Justices of the Peace in Western Australia, such signatures are not acceptable for the purposes of issuing Apostilles.

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