USA – Selling your motor vehicle

Whether you are in the US or you are overseas but selling your motor vehicle in the US, you will generally require the services of a notary public to confirm your identity and to witness your signature. In your research, you will quickly come to realise that the services of a notary in the US is different to a notary in Australia – especially when it comes to the cost of that service.

Notary Public or Justice of the Peace

In many cases, the services of a notary in the US can be best described as the services of a Justice of the Peace or Commission of Oaths in Australia, depending on which state you are in. Commonly in New South Wales, we will use the services of a Justice of the Peace (or a JP as they are commonly known) to witness sworn documents or to certify copies of original documents. However, this would normally be for documents that are to be used in New South Wales or in other states around Australia. If the document is not intended to be used in Australia, then most JPs who are aware of the extent of their appointment and formal recognition will probably refer you to see a notary public.

Even though a JP is the equivalent to a notary in the US, the form submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must comply with the DMV’s formal requirements for signing and witnessing, which involves the form being signed in front of a notary who has identified the person signing. Accordingly, if you are in the process of selling your motor vehicle in the US and you have been asked by the DMV of the state in which that vehicle is registered, or by the buyer, to sign the DMV form – be aware that this will probably mean that the document must be notarised by a notary public.

Do you need an apostille?

To add to this complication, the DMV in some US states requires the forms to not only be notarised by a notary public, but also stamped with an apostille. Many people who are not aware of this formal requirement do not fully appreciate the time and cost involved in having the document stamped with an apostille. We recommend carefully reading any instructions that appear on the DMV forms or ask whoever you might be dealing with whether there are any formal requirements after the form has been notarised outside of the US. If you find that you need the apostille, in addition to having your documents notarised, we can assist you in arranging for this to be completed.

As one of the leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we provide this notarisation and apostille service regularly to our clients in addition to all of our other notary public services for the US and other countries. If there are any concerns in the US about our appointment or authority to identify people or witness signatures for overseas, our notary public’s details are listed with the US Consulate in Sydney under Consular Services.