How to complete a statutory declaration
Important COVID-19 information
Updated: 4 February 2022
Recent temporary changes have been made to the law through the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Modifications—Statutory Declarations and Notices of Intention to Marry) Determination 2021 to enable statutory declarations to be made using electronic signatures and witnessing to occur using audio visual technology. These temporary changes to the law to facilitate the electronic execution of statutory declarations during the COVID-19 pandemic are in place until 31 December 2022.
For information about Commonwealth statutory declarations for travel exemptions visit the Department of Home Affairs website or call 131 881 (in Australia) or +61 2 6196 0196 (outside Australia).
Download a statutory declaration
We highly recommend that you use the Commonwealth statutory declaration form if the form is to be signed with pen in front of an approved witness or the Commonwealth statutory declaration for electronic execution form if the form will be signed with an electronic signature and/or witnessed over audio visual technology.
You can only create your own form if it has all the required elements in Schedule 1 of the Statutory Declarations Regulations 2018 and if the form is being executed electronically it also has all the required elements specified in the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Modifications—Statutory Declarations and Notices of Intention to Marry) Determination 2021.
Write your name, address and occupation
Section 1 of a statutory declaration requires you to write your:
Your name should be your full legal name.
Your address should be your home address, or a place where you can be contacted such as your work address.
You cannot use an email address in this section. To add an email address, you may write it in Section 10.
Your occupation is your type of job. If you don't have a job you may write unemployed, student (if you are a student), or leave this part blank.
Make your statement
Section 2 of a statutory declaration is where you write your statement.
You can type your statement, or use a pen. You should not use a pencil because information could be erased.
We cannot give you advice about what to write in your statement.
Contact the person who asked you for the statutory declaration if you:
- have a question about what to write
- are not sure if you should write or type your statement
- want to know if you can use multiple pages
- have any other questions about the content of your statement
There are no rules about the length of your statement, but if you use more than 1 page you should:
- number each page in order
- write your initials on each page
- ask your approved witness to write their initials on each page
There are legal consequences for making a false statement.
Using a language other than English
If you want to write your declaration in a language that is not English, you should ask the person who requested it from you.
They can tell you if they will accept a declaration that is:
- written in a language other than English
- translated by someone else
Attach documents to your statutory declaration if you need to
You may attach documents or other information to your statutory declaration.
If you have attachments, you should mention them in your declaration.
Your approved witness should see the attachments, but they don't need to sign or read them.
Ask an approved person to witness your statutory declaration
For your statutory declaration to be valid, it must be witnessed by an approved witness.
Your approved witness should:
- check your identity
- remind you that you are claiming your statement (and any attachments) is true
- tell you that there are penalties for making false statements
- check that the form is completed correctly
Talk to the person who asked you for the statutory declaration if your witness makes a mistake. You can also talk to them if there are other issues about your witness signature.
Sign the statutory declaration
In the past, a valid statutory declaration could only be made if it was signed in front of an approved witness with a pen. A statutory declaration can still be validly made this way using the Commonwealth statutory declaration form.
There has however been a temporary change to the Commonwealth law that means that a Commonwealth statutory declaration can be signed with an electronic signature and witnessed using audio visual technology. This change to the law has been made to facilitate the execution of statutory declarations during COVID-19. This change will apply until 31 December 2022. Further guidance on this is set out below.
What to do if you cannot sign the declaration
If you are the person making the declaration, you have to be the person to sign it. You can make a mark in place of a signature if you are:
- unable to read
- visually impaired or blind
- physically unable to sign
If you cannot read or are visually impaired or blind, your approved witness must:
- read the declaration aloud, or have the document read aloud to you in their presence, and
- be satisfied that you have understood what was read aloud, and
- certify on the declaration
- that the declaration was read aloud to you, and
- they are satisfied that you have understood what was read aloud
Your witness must then write next to the mark you have made:
'I, being the person before whom this statutory declaration is made, certify that this mark was placed by [declarant's full name] on this statutory declaration in my presence.'
Temporary change to the law due to COVID-19 – electronic execution of your statutory declaration
Electronic execution of your statutory declaration
If you choose to execute your statutory declaration using an electronic signature or you are having the form witnessed through audio visual technology, you will need to ensure that you use the correct version of the form, that is the statutory declaration for electronic execution form. This version of the form contains words that note that the statutory declaration is made is accordance with the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Modifications—Statutory Declarations and Notices of Intention to Marry) Determination 2021. It also requires that the approved witness include their phone number and/or email address.
The temporary change to the law means that you and the approved witness can sign the statutory declaration using an electronic signature.
There are many different ways of including an electronic signature in either the Microsoft Word or PDF versions of the statutory declaration. For example, you could take a photograph of your handwritten signature and insert the image of your signature into the form using the 'insert picture' function in Microsoft Word or Acrobat Reader for the PDF document. You could use the draw function in either the Microsoft Word or PDF version of the document to write your signature using the mouse or the touchpad, or you could use a stylus or your finger to draw on the screen of your device.
The internet contains a lot of useful guidance on including electronic signatures in Microsoft Word and PDF documents if you are unsure how to do this.
Witnessing using audio visual technology
The temporary change to the law also means that the approved witness can observe you signing the statutory declaration using audio visual technology.
If you decide that witnessing will occur using audio visual technology, the camera in the video conferencing facility will need to be positioned so that, whether you use a pen or an electronic signature, the approved witness can watch you sign the statutory declaration form.
There are many different forms of audio visual technology available including Zoom, Skype, CiscoWebEx or Microsoft Teams.
Copies of the statutory declaration for electronic execution
To facilitate the electronic execution of statutory declarations during COVID-19, the law has also been temporarily changed so that if the approved witness has observed you sign the statutory declaration through audio visual technology, you can provide a copy (rather than the original version) of the statutory declaration to the witness for them to sign.
Therefore, once you have included your electronic signature in the statutory declaration, you can email the statutory declaration to the approved witness for signature.
Alternatively, if you have signed the statutory declaration with a pen, you can scan or take a photo of the statutory declaration and email it to the approved witness for signature.
Steps for the approved witness to complete electronic execution of the statutory declaration
The law requires that before the approved witness signs a copy of the statutory declaration, which they have received from you, they need to be satisfied it is a true copy of the form that was signed by you.
The approved witness can sign the statutory declaration form either using a pen or an electronic signature. Regardless of the way they sign the form, the approved witness is required to include their phone number or email address (or both if they choose) on the form.
Electronic execution in person
It is important to keep in mind that if you and the approved witness are in the same room, you can still both sign the statutory declaration using electronic signatures. If you do use electronic signatures on the statutory declaration, you will need to use the statutory declaration for electronic execution form.
Change your statutory declaration
To change anything in your statutory declaration after your witness has signed it, you must make the changes in front of the same witness.
You and your witness need to write your initials next to every change.
If there are many changes, it may be easier to complete a new statutory declaration. An approved witness must sign the new declaration.
Your statutory declaration is valid as long as the information in it is true. However, some organisations that ask for statutory declarations have time limits. To find out if you can use an existing statutory declaration, check with the person who asked you for it.
You cannot revoke a statutory declaration. If you need to change a statutory declaration because the facts have changed, you should write a new one.
Submit your statutory declaration
Do not send your statutory declaration to us unless we have requested it (for example, in relation to the Marriage Act 1961). We do not process statutory declarations.
You can send your statutory declaration to the person or organisation that asked for it.
You must submit your statutory declaration in hard copy (printed), if it's required by legislation. For example, under the Marriage Act 1961, you may need to complete a statutory declaration and provide it in hard copy.
If it's not required by legislation, you can ask the person who requested it if they want to receive it electronically or in hard copy.