For a quick explanation watch this video:


  • If your document is for an overseas matter or a foreign embassy then a Notary Public is the applicable person. A Notary Public has the ability to handle documents for international use. In most cases, a JP is not authorised to witness or certify documents which are for use in foreign countries.
  • If your document is for a matter within Australia, for example, a statutory declaration for an Australian VISA application (and is not going overseas) then you should seek the services of a JP.

What is a JP?

A Justice of the Peace or JP is a volunteer role. JPs are appointed by the Governor of New South Wales and come from all sections of the community. They include some Pharmacists, Bank managers and Accountants. The main role of a JP is to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents. A JP mainly handles documents for use within Australia. In most instances a certification by a JP will be rejected by the overseas Embassy or country and the matter will be returned for the person to find a Notary to undertake the process.

Many of our clients come to us frustrated because they have taken time out to find the services of a JP and had their documents certified only to find that they are not acceptable. In addition, the JP has written on the copy pages. The Notary always prefers to work with clean copies since having an additional certification just confuses matters. So the documents need to be copied another time and the process started all over again.

Practical Pointer: If you are seeing a Notary and you are bringing copies of the documents please bring clean copies without any certifications by other people. Sometimes a University will certify a document , for examples the Student Services department. It is always best to copy the primary document. Copying documents yourself will save the Notary time and most likely your costs of seeing the Notary.

What is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is a lawyer with at least 5 years experience, although almost always with many more years of experience. A Notary is also trained under an approved course in the relevant State or Territory. Notaries mainly handle documents for use outside Australia. As Notaries are experienced solicitors they should have developed commercial legal skills. And, although a Notary is not generally engaged to provide advice on the documents being notarised, often it helps to have a professional that can help a client navigate the process. The Notary can oversee matters and help the client meet its requirements.

Practical Pointer: It is always useful to see a Notary that handles notary matters regularly. Some notaries only notarise documents from time to time or on rare occasion. These notaries will not have the same skill set as a Notary engaged in notary practice regularly. All of the Notaries in our team are busy notaries and have years and years of experience with documents destined for overseas. This includes understanding the nuances or specific requirements in different countries. To make an appointment with one of our notaries contact us on (02) 9280 4500 or at

For JP services we suggest a google search in your state or area. If you are in NSW below is a link here that provides a register and other information when looking for a JP.

As a starting point you should try the Chemist or the Bank Manager from the Bank your Bank. Australia Post also offers witnessing and certification services but there is a charge for this service. You should check upfront what are these charges. Akin to the services a JP provides, the Post office will only be able to offer services for documents that will be used in Australia.

A Notary is also a legal practitioner so will be able to perform any function of a JP but fees will apply. Sometimes clients are time pressed and need the on demand services of a paid legal professional. In addition, where there are a larger number of documents involved some clients prefer to engage a person since they do not want to take up significant time of a volunteer person. If cannot find a JP or prefer to use a solicitor to handle your witnessing or certification please also feel free to contact us on (02) 9280 4500 or

In either instance when seeing a Notary or JP you should ensure that you have sufficient identification with you at the time of the attendance. The easiest way to meet the identification requirement is to bring your Driver Licence and Passport. If for some reason you cannot bring these then you can bring alternative forms for identification. See our Article on What makes up 100 points of ID.