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Information for witnesses

This page provides information for people who have been asked to be an approved witness.

For detailed instructions on how to complete and witness a statutory declaration, visit how to make a Commonwealth statutory declaration with a witness.

Am I an approved witness?

An approved witness for a Commonwealth statutory declaration is somebody prescribed under Schedule 1 of the Statutory Declarations Regulations 2023. They must have a connection to Australia.

You can find this list and more information under who can witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration.

If you are not sure if you are professionally recognised as one of the professions listed, you can ask your employer, relevant organisation or relevant legislative authority.

Your role as an approved witness

Witnessing a Commonwealth statutory declaration is an important public service and provides a positive benefit to the community. However, you have no legal obligation to witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration, even if you are an approved witness.

If you do agree to witness a statutory declaration, you should:

  • confirm you are an approved witness – see who can witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration to check (if you are still not sure, ask your employer or the relevant organisation, licencing body or authority)
  • be satisfied the declarant has the legal capacity to sign the Commonwealth statutory declaration (that is, they are of sound mind, understand what they are doing and understand the consequences)
  • make sure the declarant understands that this is an important legal document and that signing it is a serious matter
  • be satisfied that the declarant is not acting fraudulently or under coercion (see Coercion concerns to find out more).

As an authorised witness, you are not responsible for the truth or accuracy of what the declarant is declaring.

The declarant holds the liability for committing an offense for making an intentional false statement. The witness cannot be charged or connected with the declarant if the declarant makes a false statement.

ID checks

It is not mandatory under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 for a witness to verify the identification of a declarant. Nevertheless, you have the option to request identification if you have any doubts about the declarant's identity or if it makes you feel more confident in your role as witness. You have the right to refuse to witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration if you wish.

Coercion concerns

If you are concerned that the declarant seems to be acting under coercion, you should contact the Australian Federal Police or your local police agency.

You also do not need to witness a statutory declaration if you have other concerns, for example if either:

  • the declarant looks distressed, fearful, confused or uncomfortable
  • the declarant doesn't seem to understand what they're doing
  • there is someone else with the declarant who seems to be controlling the declarant.

If you are not sure, you may also take steps to ensure that you are comfortable. For example:

  • You could find a safe place to speak to the declarant where you are confident you won't be overheard and inform them that you are concerned that the statutory declaration is not being made free from coercion and are unable to witness it.
  • If you are witnessing by video link, you can ask the declarant to show you the room where they are signing from to see if there is anyone off-camera who is forcing the declarant to sign the document. 
  • You can learn more on coercive control in family and domestic violence on our website.

Can I witness the declarant's signature, and record my signature, at different times?

You should witness the declarant's signature, sign and complete the witness' sections and return the completed Commonwealth statutory declaration to the witness in the same space of time.

This should be in the course or a single in-person visit or video call.

For remote witnessing over video link, the witness must see the declarant sign the form. They may need to ask the declarant to adjust the camera in order to do this.


The Statutory Declarations Act 1959 does not require any party to record the witnessing of a Commonwealth statutory declaration by video link technology.

You may choose to record the conversation if you wish, or if required under other legislation. However, you must have both parties' permission to do so.