Croatia – Authorising someone to act on your behalf (punomoć)

CroatiaIf you live in Australia, but you have property, business, or personal dealings in Croatia, you might need to appoint someone to act on your behalf to look after those things for you while you’re not there. With the current pandemic and restrictions on travel across the world, this situation is becoming more and more common so you’re not alone. In these kinds of cases, the document you probably need to use is the punomoć, also known as an authority or a power of attorney.

When signed in Australia, the punomoć or the power of attorney for Croatia usually must be notarised and then stamped with an apostille by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). This means that if you’re signing the punomoć, you must sign it in front of a notary public who will:

  1. Witness your signature
  2. Confirm your identity (usually against your passport), and then
  3. Notarise the punomoć.

Once your punomoć has been notarised, it can be sent to DFAT to be stamped with an apostille in accordance with the Apostille Convention. All legal documents signed in Australia and sent to Croatia must follow these same steps before those legal documents will be accepted in Croatia. If you’re still not sure what’s required for you to authorise someone to look after things in Croatia on your behalf, you should seek legal advice from your lawyer in Croatia.

Who can make the punomoć for me?

Since the punomoć is intended to be used in Croatia, it should be made by your lawyer in Croatia. It would make sense to ask the lawyer who is or will be looking after your property, business, or personal dealings in Croatia. We expect that if you ask your lawyer in Croatia, then it should be written in accordance with what will be accepted in Croatia (ie, the proper form and format, and compliant with the laws). Sometimes people ask whether they can ask a lawyer in Australia but it really depends on whether that lawyer is familiar with what’s required in Croatia. You really shouldn’t attempt to use an Australian document in Croatia. In the same way, it would be challenging for someone to try to use a document in Australia when it was prepared in another country, according to that country’s laws and in language other than English. It’s possible but unnecessarily more complicated.

Does the punomoć need to be in English or translated into English?

No, since the punomoć is a legal document used in Croatia, then it’s likely that it would need to be written in Croatian (ie, in the legal language of the country where it’s being used). Even if your document is in Croatian, it doesn’t need to be translated into English in order for it to be notarised in Australia or stamped with an apostille in Australia. The purpose of notarisation is to witness your signature and confirm your identity (ie, you are the person who signed the punomoć) and the purpose of the apostille is to confirm that your punomoć was properly notarised in Australia. You might need an English translation for yourself if you do not read Croatian because you really should understand what you’re signing – it’s an important legal document.

How do I get my punomoć notarised?

Notarising your punomoć is easy. It’s as simple as calling us for an appointment. Coming to your appointment with your punomoć and your photograph ID (ie, passport) and signing your punomoć in front of our notary public. Our notary public will confirm that you appeared before them, you signed your document in their presence, they witnessed you sign your document, and that you used your passport (or whatever photograph ID you produced) as proof of your identity. The process is simple, quick, and easy.

How do I get an apostille?

In Australia, DFAT is the issuing authority for the apostille, which means only DFAT can issue the apostille (some people seem to think, from what they read on the internet, that the apostille can be issued by notaries – this is not correct). You can make arrangements directly with them otherwise our office can also assist with this process. In many cases, we’ll assist our clients to obtain the apostille so that they can avoid the time and hassle of doing it themselves. Just be aware whether you intend to do it yourself or ask us to do it for you, the apostille does take time to process. It cannot be issued immediately.