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How To Apostille Documents From Australia

7 min read

How To Apostille Documents From Australia

Ensuring one's official documents are recognized internationally is a common difficulty for expats when moving or working overseas. This is the point at which the apostille becomes relevant. An apostille is a form of validation granted to papers under the authority of the Hague Convention of 1961. It simplifies the process of verifying papers among the countries included in the agreement. An apostille is a specific seal affixed by an authorized entity to verify the authenticity of a document, allowing it to be recognized in all nations that are members of the Hague Convention without additional verification.

The Hague Apostille Convention simplifies the process of authenticating papers internationally by eliminating the requirement for embassy or consular authorization. This applies as long as both the country issuing the document and the country where it will be used are members of the Convention. At present, a total of 126 nations are included in this system, enabling extensive recognition and approval of apostilled papers.

For expats dealing with documents issued in Australia, it’s important to understand how to obtain an apostille for various documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, educational degrees, or business documents. This ensures that your paperwork is legally recognized in other Hague Convention countries.

As of August 09, 1994, Australia joined the Apostille Convention, streamlining the document verification process for the international use of Australian documents. With this convention, a recognized Australian authority will issue an apostille certificate, typically attached as an "allonge" to the original document, confirming its authenticity for international use.

Certain international authorities may require that documents be provided with an Apostille or an Authentication certificate to be recognized within their country, a process known as ” legalization” in Australia. Legalization confirms the authenticity of the document's signature, stamp, or seal. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has the authority to legalize Australian documents for their use abroad.

 

Related content: What Is An Apostille, And How Do I Apostille Documents?

 

For a document to be considered public, it must be either an original or a certified copy. Notarization converts a private document into a public document

For a document to be considered public, it must be either an original or a certified copy. Notarization converts a private document into a "public document"

WHAT DOCUMENTS CAN BE APOSTILLED (LEGALIZED) IN AUSTRALIA?

Are you wondering if you need to get your documents legalized for use overseas? The first step is to contact the authority or organization in the foreign country where you’ll be using these documents. Since requirements can vary greatly, it’s important to ask them precisely which documents they need and whether those documents require legalization.

It's crucial to understand that not all countries will require legalized documents. Many might accept your original documents or copies just as they are. However, there are some common scenarios where you might be asked for legalized documents:

  • Studying or Working Abroad: Local authorities might request various documents from Australia if you're heading overseas for education or employment. These could include academic transcripts, degrees, or other personal identification documents. You might need to have these documents notarised or fully legalized, depending on the requirements.

  • Verifying Educational Credentials: Due to the global issue of academic fraud, employers abroad often require that educational documents be legalized. This step is crucial to verifying the authenticity of an individual's academic records.

  • International Marriage: If you're planning to get married in a foreign country, you might need to provide documents proving your eligibility to marry, such as a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI), a divorce certificate, or other similar documents.

  • Travelling with Children: In cases where a child travels internationally without both parents, foreign authorities might require you to present legal documents, such as court orders, to prove that the child has permission to travel. This is a measure taken to help prevent international parental child abduction.

 

WHAT DOCUMENTS CAN BE LEGALIZED?

DFAT can legalize a variety of Australian public documents. This includes:

  • Original documents issued by Australian government agencies include birth, death, and marriage certificates, police checks, and court documents.

  • Documents from Australian educational institutions like degrees, diplomas, transcripts, and other official academic records.

  • Private documents that can be notarized by an Australian Notary Public include powers of attorney, wills, bank statements, and company documents.

 

DOCUMENTS MAY NEED TO BE NOTARIZED 

Remember, to be considered a public document, it must be either an original or a notarized copy. Notarization transforms a private document into a “public document.” The notarization must include specific wording stating that "the original record has been verified with the issuing institution." A mere statement by a Notary Public that the document is a 'true copy' is not enough for legalization purposes.

  • TAFE and Private Education Documents: We can also handle documents from Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions and private schools if they are notarized. Documents from registered training organizations (RTOs) are also eligible once they undergo notarization.

  • Primary and Secondary School Documents: Primary and secondary school documents must be verified or notarized by an authorized officer from the state or territory education department.

  • Special Cases: In certain states and territories, Australian private school and college documents may need verification and a departmental seal from the Department of Education.

  • Electronic Documents: DFAT accepts a limited range of official electronic Australian documents. These documents must meet specific criteria and may require notarization. For legalization purposes, scanned copies do not qualify as electronic documents and, therefore, cannot be accepted.

 

Currently, only the passport offices in Melbourne or Sydney accept documents for notarial services by mail; other passport offices in Australia no longer accept mail-in submissions

Currently, only the passport offices in Melbourne or Sydney accept documents for notarial services by mail; other passport offices in Australia no longer accept mail-in submissions

LEGALIZATION OF TRANSLATED DOCUMENTS

DFAT has the authority to legalize certain translated documents. For your translation to be eligible for legalization, it must fulfill specific criteria:

  • The translator's name and signature must be clearly displayed.

  • The document must bear the official seal of the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), along with the translator’s practitioner ID.

  • The date of translation should be indicated on the document.

  • Additionally, you need to provide a copy of the original document with the translator's signature or seal on every page.

The Australian government recognizes translations done by NAATI-certified or recognized translators.

 

HOW TO LEGALISE YOUR DOCUMENTS

To legalize your documents, first, ensure they are correctly notarized if required. Then, submit them to the DFAT, and they will apply the necessary apostille or authentication certificate. This verifies the signature, seal, or stamp of the Notary Public or the authorized officer, not the issuing body itself.

 

SUBMITTING YOUR DOCUMENTS BY MAIL

Starting from 1 May 2024, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is significantly changing how documents can be submitted for legalization by mail. You must use the Melbourne or Sydney Passport Offices to send documents for notarial services such as legalization. This update is essential as other passport offices across Australia will no longer accept document submissions by mail.

To guarantee the security and tracking of your important documents, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Send Your Forms and Original Documents: Send your forms and original documents via registered post. This will help you track your shipment and ensure it reaches the office securely.

  • Include Credit Card Authorization: Complete the credit card authorization form in section 7 of the Document Legalisation Request Form. This is necessary for processing your payment.

  • Include a Self-Addressed Registered Post Envelope: Pack a self-addressed registered post envelope with your submission. This is for the safe return of your documents after processing them.

  • Keep Track of Your Shipments: Keep copies of the tracking numbers for both your outgoing and return shipments. Note that DFAT does not take responsibility for documents lost in the mail.

 

Here are the addresses for your convenience:

  • Sydney Passport Office: Australian Passport Office Authentications Section, GPO Box 2239, SYDNEY NSW 2001

  • Melbourne Passport Office: Australian Passport Office Authentications Section, GPO Box 2239, MELBOURNE VIC 3001

Remember to plan accordingly and allow sufficient time to process your documents, especially if you're preparing for international travel or business.

 

SUBMITTING YOUR DOCUMENTS IN PERSON

You can submit your documents and forms at any Australian Passport Office; however, it is crucial to schedule an appointment in advance. If you cannot attend in person, you can arrange for someone to go on your behalf.

To set up your appointment, you may utilize the online booking system. Simply choose the office you would like to visit from the following locations: Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) employs third-party software, Setmore, to manage these appointments. When booking, DFAT will collect your personal information, such as name and contact details, via Setmore to arrange your visit. Your consent to this data collection is crucial; DFAT's ability to schedule your appointment might be impacted without it. 

Make sure you are fully prepared for your appointment. You may need a credit or debit card to handle any necessary payments, and if you want your legalized documents sent back to you, remember to provide a self-addressed registered post envelope.

Please remember, if you arrive missing any necessary items, DFAT won’t be able to process your request on the spot. You would need to secure another appointment and return with everything required.

 

FEE

A fee is required to process your documents:

  • Apostille or Authentication: $98 (Australian Dollars)

Note that this fee adjusts annually in accordance with the consumer price index (CPI), effective January 1st of each year. If you plan to submit your documents around this time, make sure to account for any potential changes.

 

If you have any questions or need more information about the process, don't hesitate to get in touch with DFAT directly at legalisations.australia@dfat.gov.au

If you have any questions or need more information about the process, don't hesitate to get in touch with DFAT directly at legalisations.australia@dfat.gov.au

PROCESS AND TIMEFRAME

The DFAT team will carefully review the signatures and seals on your documents, comparing them against their comprehensive database. If everything checks out, DFAT will verify the authenticity by issuing an apostille or authentication certificate directly onto the document.

 

POTENTIAL DELAYS

Sometimes, contacting the issuing authority for further verification may be necessary, which could extend the processing time. Should this occur, DFAT will promptly inform you of the delay and any steps you may need to take.

 

PROCESSING TIME

DFAT does not guarantee any time period for the authentication of the documents. The time it takes to process requests can vary. Typically, demand spikes at the end of the school year and during peak holiday seasons, leading to longer waiting times. Additionally, the process will be further delayed if your submission is incomplete or the fee has not been paid.

 

HANDLING INCOMPLETE REQUESTS

DFAT does not process incomplete requests received by mail. If your submission lacks any required information or documents, DFAT will return it with a letter explaining what is missing and how to proceed. 

 

RETURNING YOUR LEGALIZED DOCUMENTS

After DFAT has legalized your documents, you can collect them in person from the Australian Passport Office or return them to you. If you prefer the latter, DAFT will send them back using the self-addressed envelope you provided with your initial submission.

If you have any questions or require further details about any part of the process, contact DFAT at legalisations.australia@dfat.gov.au. 

 

Related content: E-Apostilles: The Easiest Way To Legalize Your Documents

 

I remind you that the effort you put in today to legalize your documents properly can save significant time and resources in your future international ventures

I remind you that the effort you put in today to legalize your documents properly can save significant time and resources in your future international ventures

CONCLUSION

Recognizing your documents abroad requires you to negotiate the Australian apostille procedure successfully. Whether you are moving abroad for work, study, or personal reasons, understanding how to properly legalize your documents through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is essential. The process involves verification of signatures and seals, potential contact with issuing authorities, and adhering to specific submission guidelines, whether by mail or in person.

Planning ahead is crucial. It's important to ensure all documents are properly notarized and account for variable processing times, particularly during busy periods. To prevent any delays, verify that your documents fulfill all required criteria before submitting them. Track all submissions using registered posts and be prepared for yearly fee adjustments in line with the consumer price index.

Following these guidelines and preparing accordingly can facilitate a smoother process, ensuring that your documents carry the certification for global acceptance. DFAT's resources and contact points are available to guide you through the process if you have any uncertainties or need additional information. Remember, the effort you put into correctly legalizing your documents now can save you significant time and hassle in your international endeavours.

 

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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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