One of the big challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, largely because of the subsequent quarantine/isolation and travel restrictions, is that people just can’t find a justice of the peace when they need one to witness or certify their documents.
Even though notary public services are usually intended for documents that are going to be sent overseas and not used locally in Australia, a notary public can still witness or certify documents being used in Australia as well.
The main difference between using a notary public and a justice of the peace for documents used in Australia is the cost. A justice of the peace offers their services for free and without charge while a notary public is entitled to and will generally charge a fee for their notary public service.
Other differences between a notary public and a justice of the peace include:
- A notary public in Australia but be a lawyer. A justice of the peace in Australia doesn’t have to be and most likely wouldn’t be a lawyer (or even if a lawyer were also a justice of the peace, they would probably offer their services as a lawyer rather than as a justice of the peace).
- A notary public normally signs documents for use outside of Australia but can also sign documents for use in Australia. Generally, a justice of the peace can only sign documents for use in Australia and likely a justice of the peace wouldn’t be recognised by other countries (depending on the country and the requirements).
- A notary public will be recognised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) if the document must also be stamped with an apostille or be authenticated for use overseas. DFAT will not recognise a justice of the peace.
- A notary public, being a lawyer, can provide legal advice if necessary. A justice of the peace cannot provide legal advice if they’re not a lawyer.
Normally, you may be able to find a justice of the peace at public and community places, like the courthouse, the public library, some council offices, or even in shopping centres. Despite being a free service or perhaps because it’s a free service, finding a justice of the peace to witness or certify your documents seem to be a bit challenging right now.
If you need to have your signature witnessed or you need to have your documents certified urgently and you can’t find a justice of the peace, then you can also consider witnessing or certifying your documents through a notary public service like ours. Many people have come to us for our notary public services because they haven’t been able to find a justice of the peace who is available and able to witness their signature or certify their documents.
The kinds of documents we’ve been asked to sign include:
- Statutory declarations or affidavits
- Copies of passports, drivers licences, Medicare cards
- Government forms requiring declarations
As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we’re often approached by people who are sending their documents overseas as well as people who are using their documents within Australia but can’t find a justice of the peace to help them. We will help – that’s what we do.