Notarial Services


Geoff Clews was appointed a Notary Public in 1991. He is a member of the New Zealand Society of Notaries and a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Notaries. Geoff wrote the New Zealand commentary of the 2000 edition of Brooke's Notary and updated the local commentary for the 2014 edition of Brookes.

Under current New Zealand law a Notary is appointed by the conferring of a Notarial Faculty by the Archbishop of Canterbury. New Zealand is one of the only Commonwealth countries to retain this ancient basis for the common law notary's authority.

The basic role of a Notary Public is to authenticate the proper completion or execution in New Zealand of documents which are to be relied upon by parties or authorities in another country. The documents may relate to legal proceedings, such as affidavits, or to regulatory or administrative processes such as registering patents or similar rights. They may even be as mundane as certifying copies of original documents which are being submitted overseas, for instance to an overseas university in support of an application for admission. The common element is that they will be relied upon in another jurisdiction and the involvement of a notary in the process is designed to give confidence to an overseas recipient of a document that the person completing it is who they say they are, and has actually completed the document correctly, or that a copy document has been properly verified against the original and can be relied upon as a true and fair copy. 

The application of a Notary's signature and seal, and the Notary's attestation, certificate or assurance, are together called a "Notarial Act". Often Acts will be in a standard form of document or a short form of certificate will suffice. Sometimes, however, the matters a Notary is required to attest to will require the preparation of a bespoke document which recites the precise circumstances being confimed by the Notary.

In all cases the Notary will require suitable identification of the person who is completing, or is referred to in, any document being prepared or presented for notarising. This is normally done by reference to their passport or in some cases to other photo identification such as a drivers licence or an overseas national identity card. Notaries retain a register in which they keep records of the more significant Acts undertaken by them. The New Zealand Society of Notaries has ruled that all notarial acts of any significance should be accompanied by a copy of the passport identification of the person tendering the document to the notary.

As noted above, Notaries normally complete a Notarial Act by signing and sealing the document in question. The seal is usually impressed into the execution page of the document to autheticate the Notary's Act. Sealing wax is no longer used but an impressive red adhesive star will often be embossed with the seal to emphasise the solemnity of the process!

Very often overseas documents assume that a Notary will be appointed for a limited time. In the United States, for instance, notarial commissions are for a term of years and must then be renewed. In New Zealand the faculty of a notary is not limited by time. The appointment is for life.

Notarial costs

Costs of notarial attendances vary according to the complexity of the services required. Basic attendances to notarise copy documents or to witness or swear documents which are relatively simple will cost NZ$125 incl GST per Act. That cost will cover up to 5 certified copies of a single document. More complicated requirements such as multiple documents or documents which must be prepared from scratch will be charged for on a time and attendance basis. Notarial attendances charged for on this basis will be charged for at the rate of NZ$400 per hour plus GST. 


Often the notarising of a document must be authenticated before it can be relied on overseas. This involves the document and notarial act being submitted to the Department of Internal Affairs for verification of the notary's status and carries additional cost. For more details about the authentication process and the costs involved, following the "Authentication of Documents" link, or click here.

If you wish to instruct Geoff Clews on a notarial matter it would pay to send him draft of the relevant document ahead of your appointment so that he can check what is required for it to be correctly notarised.

For more information or to make an appointment for a notarial matter, click here.


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