Authentications, Apostilles and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: New ways of working

Gone are the days when you could roll up any weekday morning to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Authentications and Legalisation Section (DFAT), fill out an exceedingly short photocopied form, submit your document for an Authentication with $20 cash, wait a few hours and collect the completed document in the afternoon.

Halcyon days indeed. If you need DFAT to Authenticate a document or provide an Apostille, then the process is going to take a little longer. Here are some recent changes:

  • Appointments:
    • All visits to DFAT are now by appointment only.
    • Appointments take place between 8.30am and 1.00pm, Monday-Friday (excluding public holidays) only.
    • In order to make an appointment, you need to call DFAT on 1300 935 260.
    • Calls are handled by DFAT’s Australian Passport Information Service so you may need to wait for some time before you speak with a DFAT officer.
    • Once your call is answered, you will be asked a series of questions by the relevant DFAT officer, including if you require an Apostille or an Authentication. Work out what you need before your call so as not waste time on the phone or delay your appointment time.
    • The DFAT officer will give you an appointment time. Depending on demand for DFAT’s services, this could mean waiting one or more business days. If deadlines are an issue, contact DFAT as soon as you can to make an appointment (but make sure you have complied with DFAT’s requirements before your appointment – see below).
    • At the end of the call, the DFAT officer will give you a booking identification number (BIN) to record, and then send you an email to confirm your appointment time.
  • Request Form:
    • You must complete DFAT’s “Document legalisation request form” (Request Form) and submit it with your document when you visit DFAT.
    • The form is now six pages long but has some very useful and important information about you need to do and what can be legalised.
    • Make sure you comply with DFAT’s requirements (see page 2 of the Request Form). For instance, if DFAT states that a document needs to be notarised by a Notary Public before DFAT will legalise the document, then contact a Notary Public and organise for the document to be notarised. To do otherwise may result in DFAT declining to legalise your document, and the whole process being drawn out.
  • Visiting DFAT:
    • The location of your appointment will be set out in the email you receive from DFAT (generally the Passport Office in your State or Territory – see page 3 of the Request Form).
    • Make sure you take your completed Request Form, the document to be legalised and your BIN to the interview.
    • You will need to arrive at the Passport Office 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
    • Importantly, when you arrive at the Passport Office you need to enter your BIN into the appointment kiosk located in the Passport Office’s waiting area in order to activate your appointment.
  • Document collection:
    • When submitting your document, ask the DFAT officer when you can pick up the legalised document.
    • Sometimes this could be the same day, or may be in a few business days time (I’ve had clients who have waited up to three business days, at particularly busy times).
    • Again, factor this into your planning if you need to send the legalised document overseas, or present it to a Consulate or Embassy in Australia.
    • Alternatively, you can have the legalised document mailed to you (see DFAT’s Request Form for choices) or to an overseas destination.
  • Cost: DFAT increased its notarial service fees on 1 January 2017. An Authentication or an Apostille now costs $80.
  • Payment: DFAT no longer accepts cash for payment. You’ll need to pay by EFTPOS or credit card (Visa or MasterCard only).
  • Mail: Of course, if you are not in a rush, you don’t need to visit DFAT personally. Instead, you can complete DFAT’s Request Form and mail it and your document to DFAT’s Sydney or Melbourne offices directly for legalisation.

Good luck! If you have any questions about DFAT’s processes, more information is available at DFAT’s “Getting documents legalised in Australia” webpage.

Our services include obtaining Apostilles and Authentications from DFAT. Contact us, if we can be of assistance.

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