Reading time: 3 minutes

A notary public (also called a public notary or notary) is a public officer, usually a practising lawyer, with powers to witness documents, administer oaths, and perform other administrative functions. A notary public is trusted and empowered to take oaths and sign and witness documents for use in Australia as well as internationally.

Where Did the Practice Originate?

Notary publics originated as members of the Roman Empire. Trusted, impartial officers were appointed to authenticate documents, take oaths and keep official records across the Roman Empire.

As the power of the Roman Empire declined, and the power of the Catholic Church grew, the Catholic Church developed similar functions with the clergy. The Vatican then became responsible for appointing public notaries.

In approximately the 13th Century, England developed the practice of notaries whereby the Pope granted the Archbishop of Canterbury the right to appoint public notaries.

The services of public notaries were increasingly focussed on international trade and commerce. A Court of Faculties was established and given the responsibility for the appointment of notaries and still has this responsibility.

What do Public Notaries Do Now?

Public notaries provide legal acts (a written record of events), which can be used for official purposes, including with local or international government, and in a local or international court. Public notaries can also certify copies of documents for use locally and overseas, and witness signatures and certifications for use locally or overseas.

A public notary can identify you for an overseas purpose. The public notary would need to see 100 points of identification including photo ID. The public notary would create a Notarial Certificate as to Identity. This is a certificate that would set out:

  • The photo identification that the public notary viewed;
  • The purpose that you said you needed the certificate for;
  • The fact that the public notary compared your photo identification, with you in person, and was satisfied that you are the person identified;
  • The fact that the public notary compared the signature in your photo identification, with your signature signed in front of the public notary and was satisfied that the signatures are the same.

The public notary would certify that you are the person you say you are, and would confirm this in a certificate. The public notary would sign and seal the certificate with the official seal. It is then ready for use locally and internationally.

***

Each State or Territory has public notary registers which include notaries available to witness documents. You can find these details online, or contact your local council for further information.

Webinars

What to Consider When Buying a Tech or Online Business

Wednesday 13 April | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to get the best deal when buying a tech or online business. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Corporate Governance 101: Responsibilities for New Directors

Wednesday 27 April | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If you are a new company director, join our free webinar to understand your legal compliance obligations. Register today.
Register Now

Rogue Directors and Business Divorces: How to Remove a Director

Thursday 28 April | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Removing a board director is not simple. Join our free webinar to learn how to handle rogue directors. Register today.
Register Now

Employment Essentials for Tech Businesses

Thursday 5 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Protect your tech business and your employees by understanding your employment legal obligations. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

How to Protect and Enforce Your Trade Mark

Wednesday 11 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Protect your business’ brand from copycats and competitors. Register for this free webinar to learn how.
Register Now

How Franchisors Can Avoid Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

Wednesday 18 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Ensure your franchise is not accused of misleading and deceptive conduct. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

New Kid on the Blockchain: Understanding the Proposed Laws for Crypto, NFT and Blockchain Projects

Wednesday 25 May | 10:00 - 10:45am

Online
If you operate in the crypto space, ensure you understand the Federal Government’s proposed licensing and regulation changes. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

How to Expand Your Business Into a Franchise

Thursday 26 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Drive rapid growth in your business by turning it into a franchise. To learn how, join our free webinar. Register today.
Register Now

Startup Financing: Venture Debt 101

Thursday 23 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how venture debt can help take your startup to the next level. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer