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Witnessing a statutory declaration

The information below is only relevant for Commonwealth or Australian Capital Territory statutory declarations.

To witness statutory declarations, you must be on the list of authorised witnesses. This list is also included on the Commonwealth statutory declaration form.

Your obligations as a witness

As a witness, you need to:

  • check the identity of the person making the statutory declaration by asking them if they are the person whose name is on the form
  • check as far as possible, that the person understands that they are making and signing a statutory declaration, and that they know they must tell the truth
  • remind the person that they are claiming that the statements in the statutory declaration and any attachments are true
  • make sure the person is aware that there are penalties for false statements
  • check that the declaration:
    • does not include any 'blanks' as all fields on the form need to be filled in
    • includes the attachments to which it refers. You do not have to read the attachments. However, you do need to ensure the person signing the statutory declaration is attesting to the truth of the 'whole package' in your presence. Justices of the Peace may have additional rules that they need to follow such as a requirement to mark the attachments as 'annexures' and sign them as such

Witnessing for family members

You are allowed to witness statutory declarations for family members if you are on the list of authorised witnesses.

If you are a Justice of the Peace, this may not be the case as different rules may apply to you under the relevant state or territory code of conduct.

Witnessing state and territory statutory declarations

If you are authorised to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations, you might 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.

State and territory authorised witnesses

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.

For example, a person who is authorised by the Victorian Evidence Act 1958 to witness Victorian statutory declarations can witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration that is made in Victoria.

Witnessing Commonwealth statutory declarations overseas

You are able to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations overseas if you:

  • fall within one of the categories on the list of authorised witnesses, and
  • have a connection to Australia.

For example, a member of a police force in Australia may witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration overseas. However, a police officer of a foreign police force cannot witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration.

Charging a fee

There is no restriction under Commonwealth law that prohibits a witness from charging a fee to witness a statutory declaration.

However, Justices of the Peace are prevented from charging a fee to witness a statutory declaration under their relevant state or territory codes of conduct.