Why is legalisation necessary?

States that have not signed the Convention for Apostilles of International documents must specify how foreign legal documents can be certified for its use. Two countries may have a special convention on the recognition of each other’s public documents, but in practice this is infrequent. Otherwise, the document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country where the document originated and then by the foreign ministry of the government where the document will be used; one of the certifications will often be performed at an embassy or consulate. In practice this means the document must be certified twice before it can have legal effect in the receiving country. For example, as a non-signatory, Canadian documents for use abroad must be certified by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa or by a Canadian consular official abroad and subsequently by the relevant government office or consulate of the receiving state.

How can a document be legalised?

The law in most countries requires that a signature on a document be witnessed or other procedures applied before the document can be used for legal purposes or in a court of law. Solicitors, justices of the peace, and notaries public normally perform these functions in Australia, but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) may also be authorised to do so. DFAT provides notarial services, or the legalisation of documents, to Australians, or people planning to use documents in Australia, through its State/Territory offices in Australia and its diplomatic missions overseas.

As part of DFAT’s role as the local authority for a number of international conventions, its State and Territory offices provide the following notarial services:

– Authentications
– Apostilles
– Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage
– Binding Documents (limited to documents presented for Authentication/Apostille)

These services are only for Australians or for cases where the documents are Australian in origin or for use in, or requested by, Australia. We provide a range of services which are not provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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