Some foreign authorities may request a document to be issued with an Apostille or an Authentication certificate before it will be accepted by that foreign country. This is referred to as ‘legalisation’.
Legalisation verifies that the signature, stamp or seal on it is genuine.
Do I need my document legalised?
You must ask the receiving authority what documents they want, and which ones you must get legalised.
Some common examples of when authorities ask for legalised documents are below.
- If you’re going overseas to study or work, the receiving authority may ask for a range of Australian documents. This could include your degree, transcript and other identity documents. Some you’ll just need notarised, others you’ll need legalised.
- Employers often ask for legalised education documents. Academic fraud is a common issue worldwide. Legalising documents is part of wider process to verify people’s credentials.
- If you’re going overseas to get married, the overseas authority may ask for Australian documents. They may want proof that you’re free to marry. This could include a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI), divorce certificate or other evidence.
- If your child is travelling without both parents, the overseas authorities may ask for documents. You may need to present court or other documents to prove your child can travel. This helps prevent international parental child abduction (Attorney-General’s Department).
You must ask the receiving authority overseas what they expect of you. Or ask an official from their embassy or consulate in Australia.
What is document legalisation?
Document legalisation is the process to verify a signature, stamp or seal on a document. Once legalised, a person can use it in another country.
- Some authorities may not recognise or accept a foreign document until it’s legalised.
- The government in each country can only legalise documents issued in their country.
- Once verified, officials issue an apostille or authentication certificate on the original document.
In some cases, documents must be notarised before you can submit them to legalise.
Who can legalise documents for use overseas?
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is the Australian legalisation authority. No other authority in Australia can ‘legalise’ documents. However, a Notary Public can ‘notarise’ them.
DFAT delivers legalisation services in Australia and overseas.
Who can notarise documents for use overseas?
Australian Notary Publics can ‘notarise’ documents for use overseas. This is different from legalising.
Many receiving authorities are satisfied with a notarised document. They may not ask you to take the extra step to get it legalised.
Always ask the overseas authority to specify what they need.
Authentication and apostilles
The Australian government legalises documents by issuing either an apostille or authentication certificate.
DFAT applies either an apostille or authentication certificate to the original document you supply.
The apostille or authentication certificate verifies the signature, stamp or seal on the original document, or that of the Notary Public for documents they’ve notarised.
DFAT can’t advise which one you need. You must ask the receiving authority overseas what they want. Or, ask an official from their embassy or consulate in Australia.
Documents DFAT can legalise
DFAT can legalise many types of documents for use overseas. Documents must be Australian public documents. This means documents that are:
- originals issued by an Australian government agency or official
- originals issued by an Australian educational institution
- copies notarised by an Australian Notary Public
DFAT can legalise private documents, once they are notarised by an Australian Notary Public. If a document is notarised, it becomes a ‘public document’.
Australian Government documents
DFAT can legalise many original Australian Government documents.
This includes most documents issued by Australian births, deaths and marriage registries. It also includes documents issued by courts, police and government departments.
DFAT can legalise Australian:
- birth certificates, including ceremonial certificates and extracts
- marriage certificates (excluding ceremonial certificates)
- death certificates
- Single Status or Record of No Result certificates
- court documents, including Divorce Certificates
- Police Criminal Record Checks or Fingerprint Reports
- Australian citizenship certificate or International Movement Record (Department of Home Affairs)
- Australian government commercial documents (e.g. ASIC, ATO or TGA documents)
- other Australian government issued documents
DFAT only accept original documents, or copies of documents notarised by an Australian Notary Public.
Australian university documents
DFAT can legalise most official university documents from Australian institutions. This includes documents from public and private universities.
DFAT can legalise Australian degrees, awards, transcripts, certificates, letters and other official tertiary documents. DFAT can legalise your original document, or a copy notarised by an Australian Notary Public.
DFAT doesn’t accept any foreign education documents. Even if notarised by an Australian Notary Public.
Original university documents
You can submit original university documents to DFAT to legalise, once verified by the university.
- You need to contact your university to verify your original degree as a ‘true and accurate record’. This could be available via an online portal.
- DFAT applies the apostille or authentication directly to the document you submit.
- If you don’t want a mark on your original degree or transcript, you need to supply DFAT with a copy notarised by an Australian Notary Public.
Notarised copies of university documents
If you plan to submit a copy of your Australia tertiary education document, the copy must meet specific requirements.
- We can accept copies notarised by an Australian Notary Public. Ask the Notary about the process.
- Copies notarised by a Notary Public also need to be verified by the university. The Notary will coordinate this.
- There’s specific wording the Australian Notary Public must use when they notarise your copy. They must state that ‘the original record has been verified with the issuing institution’. A statement by a Notary Public that the document is a ‘true copy’ does not satisfy this verification.
Australian TAFE documents
DFAT can legalise official documents from Australian Public Colleges of Technical and Further Education (TAFE).
Original Australian TAFE documents
DFAT can legalise original TAFE documents.
If you don’t want DFAT to mark your original document, supply them with a notarised copy.
Notarised copies of Australian TAFE documents
DFAT can legalise notarised copies of TAFE documents.
An Australian Notary Public must notarise your copy. We won’t accept certified true copies from justices of the peace or other authorised witnesses.
The apostille Melbourne or authentication certificate we issue verifies the signature/seal/stamp of the Australian Notary Public.
Australian private school and college documents
DFAT can legalise education documents from Australian private schools and colleges, once notarised. This includes registered training organisations (RTOs) (Australians Skills Quality Authority).
- Before submitting to DFAT for legalisation, you must take them to an Australian Notary Public.
- The Notary Public can notarise them, applying their signature/stamp/seal.
- Once notarised, submit your document to DFAT for legalisation in Australia or overseas.
- DFAT issues the apostille or authentication certificate on the document you supply.
- DFAT’s apostille or authentication verifies the signature/seal/stamp of the Australian Notary Public, not that of the issuing body.
In some Australian states and territories, the Department of Education may also verify, and apply their departmental seal, to original education documents issued by private schools and colleges.
In these circumstances, DFAT can issue an apostille or authentication certificate, which verifies the signature/seal/stamp of the authorised officer from the relevant state or territory education body.
Australian primary and secondary school documents
DFAT can legalise some original primary and secondary school documents. You must either get the document:
- verified and signed by an authorised officer from the relevant state or territory government education body, or
- notarised by an Australian Notary Public
The Apostille or Authentication certificate DFAT issues verifies the signature/seal/stamp of the authorised officer or Notary Public.
DFAT cannot legalise documents only signed by the school administration.
Other Australian documents
DFAT can legalise many documents notarised by a Notary Public in Australia. These may include:
- private documents (e.g. Power of Attorney, wills, bank statements, company documents)
- documents issued by an authorised Australian chamber of commerce and industry
- documents in a foreign language, if prepared by a Notary Public in Australia
DFAT only accept other Australian documents once notarised in Australia.
Translations and electronic official Australian documents
Translating your document
DFAT can legalise some translated documents. The translation you submit for legalisation must include:
- the translator’s name and wet signature
- the official National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) wet seal (stamp), including their practitioner ID
- a short statement in English confirming it’s a ‘true and accurate translation of the original’
- the date of translation
You must also submit a copy of the original document, with a wet signature and/or seal from the translator.
Electronic official Australian documents
DFAT accepts a limited range of official Australian public documents electronically.
- DFAT will assess your electronic document when you lodge this via mail or over the counter. DFAT cannot confirm over the phone if a document can or cannot be processed.
- You may be asked to forward the original email or log in to a portal to prove the authenticity of the document.
- DFAT only accept a limited range of electronic documents with no signature and/or seal; DFAT will advise if documents need to be notarised first.
- Scanned copies are not electronic documents for our purposes and cannot be accepted.
How to submit a document for legalisation
The process to submit your documents for legalisation depends on their location.
- DFAT deliver their services in Australia by mail, and through Australian Passport Offices.
- Overseas, we deliver legalisation services through our embassies and consulates.
How we can help to Obtain an Apostille Stamp or Authentication Stamp
Arranging for an Apostille or an Authentication with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) can be costly and time consuming, DFAT generally issues Apostille and Authentication Stamps on documents after notarisation by a Notary Public.
- The first step is to have the document notarised by a Notary Public. Appointments with Notary Public Nazim El-Bardouh can be made online, by calling 03 9304 3344 or emailing.
- The second step is to have the document presented to DFAT.
- Please see Option A and Option B listed below for your preferred method.
OPTION A: By Express Post
- After notarisation, the document can be posted to DFAT with an enclosed Express Post envelope to secure the Apostille / Authentication.
- The Government fee for each required Apostille / Authentication Stamp is $84.
- You will need to enclose this linked form and post the document to this address:
Australian Passport Office
Level 2, 747 Collins Street
DOCKLANDS VIC 3008
OPTION B: By The Office of Nazim El-Bardouh – Bardo Lawyers Notaries Public
- Nazim has the ability to secure the Apostille (or Authentication Stamp) (36 hours).
- This add-on service is $165 in addition to DFAT & notarisation fees.
- Please inform us at the appointment or before if you require this add on service.
- Morning lodgement with our office is preferred.
Please click here to make a booking at the City or Glenroy Office. Alternatively call 03 9304 3344 during business hours.
Please Note: Most documents require notarisation by a Notary Public before they can obtain an Apostille or Authentication. Some countries require an Apostille, others require an Authentication. This depends on country Hague Apostille convention membership. Nazim can advise at the appointment.