If you’re living overseas, you’ll need to have copies of your ID and supporting documents witnessed when applying for a home loan for an Australian property.

The mortgage documents that require an authorised witness signature will depend on the state the Australian property is located in and the lender you’re borrowing from.


Which documents need witnessing?

Depending on which lender you’re applying for a home loan with, the documents you need witnessed may vary.

This applies to both people who are investing in Australian real estate and Australian expats.

Some documents that will need to be witnessed may include:

  • Loan offer: This is the loan contract between you and the bank. Also known as a mortgage contract, some lenders need this to be witnessed whereas others don’t.
  • Statutory Declaration: Some lenders will require a witnessed statutory declaration as part of their mortgage documents. The witness must meet particular criteria to be accepted by the bank.
  • Certified Identification: Some lenders will require you to mail them a photocopy of your ID that has been signed and certified by an authorised witness as a true and correct copy of the original.
  • Mortgage: The mortgage form is the actual document lodged with the government to register the lender’s interest in your property. The acceptable witnesses for this form will depend on which state of Australia the property is in.

In general, other mortgage related documents don’t require a witness.

These include forms to direct how the loan funds are to be paid, opening a bank account with the home loan, or to confirm the details in your application.


Do I need a Justice of the Peace?

A Justice of the Peace (JP) is a person who’s authorised to witness and sign statutory declarations and affidavits and to certify copies of original documents.

You may need to have a Justice of the Peace witness your signature on some of the documents.

This will depend on the lender that you use and the state that the property that you are mortgaging is in.

In most cases, you’ll need a JP or JP equivalent.


Can a Public Notary be accepted instead?

A public notary is a public officer, usually a practising solicitor or attorney, who is authorised to witness documents, and administer oaths.

They can perform other wide-ranging administrative tasks for both international and national purposes and are available in most countries.

A public notary can be accepted instead of a JP in some cases. You’ll need to contact your lender to confirm their policy concerning public notaries overseas.


Tips for witnessing a mortgage application from overseas

There are a number of things you can do to help you get your loan approved from overseas.

  • Make no mistakes: If you make a mistake with any of your documents the lender will send your entire loan application back to be redone. This will cause huge delays if you’re overseas.
  • Use black or blue pen
  • Make sure the witness clearly writes their full name: This includes middle names and their full address. If an initial is used or their writing can’t be read then this won’t be accepted.
  • Witnesses must be over the age of 18: They must also be present when you sign the forms and must not be a part of the loan transaction (i.e. two borrowers cannot witness each other’s signatures).
  • All signatures are provided and dated: Double check that all required signatures, including authorised witness signatures, have been included on all the relevant documents and dated.
  • Fill in all forms correctly: Call your mortgage broker if you’re unsure of how to fill in a form.
  • Check everything twice: Do this before you send it back to the bank.
  • Include a copy of your building insurance: You may need this when you send the loan documents back but it depends on the lender

What is required when witnessing a mortgage form?

Each state has different requirements regarding witnesses for mortgage forms.

This is a state-based form that is lodged with the state government to register the lender’s interest in your property.

Queensland

QLD requires the witness to be a person approved by the registrar. This can include:

  • A Notary Public.
  • A Justice of the Peace.
  • A commissioner for declarations or for taking affidavits.
  • A lawyer.
  • A barrister.
  • A solicitor.
  • A legal practitioner.
  • A conveyancer.

New South Wales

In NSW, the mortgage form should be witnessed by an eligible witness, who’s over eighteen years old and has either known you for twelve months or has sighted your identification.

A JP isn’t required.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT requires the mortgage form to be witnessed by an adult person who isn’t a part of the mortgage agreement.

Victoria

In VIC, mortgages require an eligible witness who’s over eighteen years old and isn’t a part of the loan contract.

Tasmania

TAS requires that an adult person who isn’t a part of the mortgage contract must witness the signature of the mortgagor. The witness must include their signature, full name, occupation and address.

South Australia

In SA, the witness must be eighteen years or over and must know the mortgagor personally or be satisfied as to the identity of the mortgagor. The witness can’t be a part of the mortgage agreement.

The witness is also required to print their full name, address and business hours telephone number beneath their signature.

Western Australia

WA requires that an adult person witness each signature on the mortgage form. The full name, address and occupation of the witness must also be stated.

Northern Territory

In the NT, people who may witness a mortgage form must be approved by the Registrar-General. This can include:

  • A Notary Public.
  • A Justice of the Peace.
  • A Commissioner for Oaths.
  • A lawyer.
  • A barrister.
  • A solicitor.
  • A legal practitioner.
  • A conveyancer.
  • A member of the police force.

They must not be a part of the mortgage, and after signing the witness must include their names, contact address or number below their signature.


Where can I find a JP?

JPs can be found in any country that’s a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (also known as the British Commonwealth). They are typically listed on a Justices of the Peace (JP) Register.

Alternatively, you can go to any Australian Consulate, where you’ll be able to get your mortgage documents witnessed by an authorised person.

Countries that are included in the Commonwealth include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Zambia.


How can a mortgage broker help you?

If you wish to purchase Australian real estate from overseas please talk to one of our mortgage brokers. We can answer any questions about witnessing documents overseas and help you get your loan approved.

You can fill in our free assessment form or call us from overseas on +61 2 9194 1700.

  • Willowy

    I’m an Australian currently working in Abu Dhabi and I’m applying for a home loan. Do I need to certify my IDs & other related docs?

  • Hi Willowy,

    Yes, you need to certify your documents but the documents you need to certify may vary depending on the lender and the state that the property that you are buying as well.

  • Vivian

    Hi,

    I have a loan document that need to be witnessed by JP. However I am in Malaysia at the moment, beside High Commissioner of Australia, does lawyer qualify to witness the documents?

    Thank you,
    Vivian

  • Hi Vivian,

    Usually any Verification of Identity (VOI) forms need to be signed at the consulate / embassy. However mortgage documents (loan offer, loan contract, mortgage etc) can usually be signed by a public notary. It would depend on which lender you are going with.

    Contact your mortgage broker and they can confirm or look on the documents themselves and they should have instructions.

  • Piper

    I’m Scottish and living in the UK. I’ve been considering investing in Australian property and so was researching, which is what landed me here. The info here is great but I’m still not convinced if I should invest. Do you have a page on why to invest in Australia?

  • Hello Piper,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, we do have a page on why to invest in Australian property. In it, there’s also info on the buying process here as well as answers to frequently asked questions. Here’s the link to the page:
    https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/non-resident-mortgages/buyers-guide/

  • kenny

    I will be coming to Australia to work and will be on a 457 visa. If I want to get a home loan there, how much can I be allowed to borrow?

  • Anyone who’s in Australia on a work visa can borrow 80% with select banks who are happy to work with foreign citizens living in Australia. However, there are mortgages available for up to 95% of the property value as a special exception to normal bank criteria.

  • Jordan D

    I recently moved here to Japan from Australia on business and will be here for at least a year or two. Will I need to get approval from the FIRB too if I want to buy property back home?

  • No Jordan, you will not need to get an approval from the FIRB to buy Aussie property. Australian expats and PR holders will not need to get FIRB approval but non-residents and foreign investors will require it.

  • Styles

    Any alternative method to get the docs witnessed if no JP is available?

  • A public notary can be accepted instead of a JP in some cases though you’ll need to contact your lender to confirm their policy concerning public notaries overseas. Alternatively, you can also go to any Australian Consulate where you will be able to get your mortgage documents witnessed by an authorised person.