Notarial Services - What is a Notary ?


The office of Notary Public can be traced back to the ancient Roman Empire.
In South Australia, Notaries are appointed by the Supreme Court.

While the functions of a Notary are not defined by statute or instrument, the foundation of their duties have essentially developed as a result of English case law and custom.

Common functions performed by Notaries

  • Authenticating official, government and personal documents and information for use in a foreign country.
  • Witnessing signatures of individuals to documents and authenticating identity.
  • To draw up shipping protests and other formal papers relating to the voyage of ships, their navigation and the carriage of cargo.
  • Witnessing Powers of Attorney for use overseas, including from time to time, preparing them.
  • Certifying true copies of documents for use in a foreign country.
  • Dealing with documentation relating to land, personal property and deceased estates for use in a foreign country.
  • Witnessing documents and authenticating status and transactions for corporations and businesses.

Application for Appointment as a Notary in SA

The following is the criteria for appointment as a Notary in SA:

1.       Must be a solicitor of at least 5 years post admission;

2.       Must have a current unrestricted practicing certificate in SA;

3.       Must be working in practice, that is not as “in house” Counsel or for a private company or the government;

4.       Must display a knowledge and understanding* of Notarial practice;

5.       Should have, or have access to, a Notary mentor for your initial period of notarial practice.

All the above would need to be demonstrated in an affidavit in support of the application to the Supreme Court to be admitted as a NP for the Society to approve your application.

It would also be useful but not mandatory if you applied to join the Notaries’ Society of SA for CPD seminars on notarial practice.


*With the promulgation of the Notaries’ Public Act 2016 an applicant  must satisfy the requirements of a course approved by the Legal  Practitioners Education and Admission Council (LPEAC).
5—Appointment of notaries public
(1) A person who—
     (a) is entitled to practise the profession of the law in this State; and
     (b) has been admitted and enrolled as a legal practitioner (in this State or any other State) for at least 5 years may apply to the Supreme Court to be  admitted and enrolled as a notary public of the Supreme Court.
(2) A person who, on application under subsection (1), satisfies the Supreme Court—
     (a)  that the person's entitlement to practise the profession of the law is not, in this State or any other State, subject to any limitation, restriction or other condition inconsistent with the carrying out of the functions of a notary public;   and
     (b)  that—
     (i)  the person has complied with the rules relating to the qualifications for admission and enrolment of a person as a notary public made by LPEAC under section 4(1); or
     (ii)  insofar as there has been non-compliance with those rules, the person should be exempted from such compliance; and
     (c)  that the person is a fit and proper person to practise as a notary public is entitled to be admitted and enrolled as a notary public of the Supreme Court.