Certification of Documents

What is a certification?

A certification is a governmental act by which a designated public official (e.g. consular officer at an embassy or a consulate) certifies the authenticity of the signature and/or seal and the position of the person/official who has executed, issued, or certified (a copy of) a document.

Please note that Honorary Consulates also certify documents.

A certification can be provided for:

  • private (e.g. agreements, power-of-attorney) and official signatures
  • transcripts and copies (stating that original and copy are identical)

Please note:

  • The Embassy does NOT provide translation services. The accuracy of a translation is NOT the responsibility of the Embassy.
  • The Embassy is NOT to be held liable/responsible for the content of a document.

The person requesting certification services must provide proof of identity (e.g. passport).

Certification of public documents

The "1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents" stipulates that signatory countries (including Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Fidschi, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu) agreed to mutually recognize each other's "public documents". Thus, these documents need no prior legalization by an embassy or consulate of the other country.

Public documents are inter alia:

  • documents issued by judicial authorities, including those emanating from public prosecutors, court clerks, and process servers (e.g. divorce decree)
  • administrative documents (e.g. birth, marriage certificates)
  • police clearance certificates (police check)
  • official certificates affixed to documents signed by persons in their private capacity such as official certificates recording the registration of a document, notarial authentications of signatures etc.

Yet, all these public documents must be authenticated by an Apostille. An Apostille (French for "certification") is a form of internationally recognized notarization and ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country. The sole function of the Apostille is to certify the authenticity of the signature on the document in question; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted; and the identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document. The Apostille must either be attached as an annex to the official document or placed on the document itself by means of a stamp. An Apostille is solely issued upon request.  

Who may issue an Apostille?

In Australia:

  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), its territory offices or the Australian Passport Offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Apostilles for Australian official documents may also be issued by Australian Embassies or the respective Australian consular authority. 

In New Zealand:

In Austria:

  • the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • the Governors or Governments of the Federal Provinces
  • the Presidents of a Court of First Instance

Apostilles for Austrian official documents may also be issued by Austrian Embassies if the document in question has been issued by the respective Embassy.