A statutory declaration is a written statement that allows a person to declare something to be true.
When you make a statutory declaration, you are declaring that the statements in it are true. If you intentionally make a false statement in a declaration, you can be charged with an offence. The penalty for making a false statement in a statutory declaration is a maximum of four years imprisonment.
If you have concerns about a false statutory declaration or a false witness, contact the Australian Federal Police.
Commonwealth statutory declarations
Commonwealth statutory declarations are made on matters relating to the Commonwealth or the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and some smaller territories. They are not used for declarations on matters relating to Australian states and territories.
Commonwealth statutory declarations can be used:
- in connection with the administration of any department of the Commonwealth
- for the purposes of a Commonwealth law
- in connection with any matter arising under a law of the Commonwealth, or
- for the purposes of a law, or in connection with any matter arising under a law, of the:
- Australian Antarctic Territory
- Australian Capital Territory
- Coral Sea Islands Territory
- Norfolk Island
- Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands
- Territory of Christmas Island
- Territory of Heard and McDonald Islands
- Territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Island.
This department cannot provide legal advice about statutory declarations.
A Commonwealth statutory declaration must be signed in the presence of someone who is on the list of authorised witnesses. If you are authorised to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations, you may be able to witness state or territory declarations as well, if the local law states that:
- an authorised Commonwealth witness can also witness local statutory declarations, or
- a person with your occupation or position can witness local statutory declarations.
For more information, visit the witnessing a statutory declaration or making a statutory declaration pages.
State and territory statutory declarations
States and territories, apart from the territories listed above, have other laws and requirements regarding statutory declarations. State or territory declarations should be made for matters which relate to a state or territory law or government department.
If you need to make a statutory declaration that concerns a state or territory matter, visit the relevant website in your area below:
If you are authorised to witness declarations in the state or territory where you live, you can also witness Commonwealth statutory declarations made in the same place.
Preparing your own form
You are allowed to prepare your own statutory declaration form, which differs from the standard form. However, you should get legal advice, to ensure the resulting declaration is valid.
In general, anyone who is shown an original document can certify that a copy of that document is a true copy. They do not have to hold any particular office or position. Sometimes, however, a law will specify who is allowed to certify a copy of a document for certain purposes. If you're not sure, check with the organisation that asked for the certified documents.
If you are authorised to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations, you are not automatically authorised to certify all documents.
New authorised witness groups
The list of authorised witnesses is occasionally reviewed and amended. Additions to the list are only made when there is a genuine unmet need in the community that would be fulfilled with the addition of the proposed group. This occurs when people in the community have difficulty finding someone who can witness a statutory declaration.
The regulations are due to be reviewed in 2016. This department will consider changes to the list of people authorised to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations at this time.
Justices of the Peace
The Australian Government does not appoint Justices of the Peace and has no responsibility for their administration.
The various state and territory governments are responsible for their appointment and administration under the authority of their relevant legislation.
To find a Justice of the Peace in your state or territory, visit the relevant website in your area below:
A notary is an official who:
- takes oaths
- signs and witnesses document for use in Australia
- signs and witnesses documents for international use.
A notary may also be known as a Notary Public or Public Notary. A notary must be appointed in Australia, under their local state or territory legislation, to be able to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations.
Commissioners for Declarations
Commissioners for Declarations can witness Commonwealth statutory declarations. However, the Commonwealth stopped appointing people to this position in 1991. The register for this position has not been maintained since 1992.
If you previously held this title under Commonwealth law, and you have not received any notice that your appointment has been cancelled, then you can safely assume that you still hold this title.
Some states and territories still appoint people as Commissioners for Declarations. These people are allowed to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations.
An affidavit is not the same as a statutory declaration, although they have a similar purpose. An affidavit is a sworn statement of fact which is made under oath. It is used to give evidence in court proceedings. A statutory declaration is also a statement of fact, but is not sworn under oath. It is used to give evidence in most other situations.
The declaration on the back of a marriage certificate is called a Declaration by Party to Proposed Marriage. It is not a Commonwealth statutory declaration.
For more information, visit the marriage page.