The Role of the Notary and the Apostille

Guardians of Integrity and Trust – The Role of the Notary and the Apostille

Those holding office as Notaries are revered internationally for their role as trusted certifiers of documents and witnesses to critical transactions. In many overseas countries, the sanctity of identification documents, such as passports; or educational qualifications, such as degrees or diplomas, is ensured through the meticulous process of notarisation.  To ‘notarise’ a document is to issue a form of certification (‘a notarial act’) by a notary public upon documents. The notarial act is a testament to the document's authenticity and the credibility of the individuals involved.

In New Zealand, only those in the legal fraternity can hold office as a notary public.  The appointment is not a mere title but a lifelong commitment. The Archbishop of Canterbury oversees this appointment, infusing it with a touch of historical significance and international recognition.

Apostille: A Key to Cross-Border Acceptance

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the need for standardised procedures in document authentication has become paramount. Enter the Apostille – a term derived from French, meaning 'certification.' An Apostille is a specialised form of authentication recognised by countries that are parties to the Hague (Apostille) Convention, a private international law treaty aimed at simplifying the process of document validation for cross-border use.

Why is an Apostille necessary?

Imagine a scenario where a notarised document needs to be accepted in a foreign jurisdiction. In the absence of a universally recognised certification, each country would have its own arduous process for verifying the document's authenticity and that of the notary public involved.  The Apostille streamlines this process, ensuring that a document certified by a notary public is readily accepted by countries that are party to the Hague (Apostille) Convention.

The Apostille process, in plain English, is like getting a universal stamp of approval for a notarised document.  In New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs takes on the role of the official stamp-giver certifying that the notary’s signature and seal or stamp are genuine, and the person who signed the document is in fact a notary.


Here's how it works:

1. Get Your Document Notarised: First, you have a document notarised by a qualified notary public. This could range from legal papers to personal documents like birth certificates or educational diplomas.

 2. Submit to the Department of Internal Affairs: Once your document is notarised, you send it to the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand. This department will then check to make sure the notary who signed your document is genuine.

 3. Apostille Issued: Once confirmed as authentic, the Department of Internal Affairs will attach an Apostille to your document. Think of the Apostille as a universal "thumbs up" that says, " This notary and their signature are legitimate."

 4. Ready for International Use: Now, armed with the Apostille, your document is ready for international use. Whether you're dealing with legal matters or business transactions abroad, the Apostille ensures that other countries will recognise and act on your document.


For personalized guidance on document authentication, contact Jayne Macdonald today. Whether you need notarization or Apostille certification for international use, Jayne provides expert assistance in upholding authenticity and trust. Reach out for reliable support in safeguarding your important documents.

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