Signing and witnessing requirements

New Part 61 (witnessing and execution of instruments or documents)

New requirements for witnessing came into effect on 30 September 2019 as a result of amendments to the Land Act 1994 and the Land Title Act 1994. Find out more by reading the Titles Registry Alert no. 154 or download the new Part 61 (PDF, 490KB).

New recordkeeping requirements – JPs and CDecs

JPs and CDecs please note that it is acceptable for the purposes of section 162(3) of the Land Title Act 1994 and 311(3) of the Land Act 1994 to only retain a written record. There is no expectation that a JP or CDec will retain originals or copies of the documents or other evidence. Refer to [61-2330] for more information.

Most Titles Registry forms must be signed and dated in the presence of a qualified witness.

Witnesses must clearly print their full name near their signature as well as their qualification as a witness.

Use dense black or blue ink when signing the form to ensure that a quality electronic image of the signature is produced.

Additional requirements apply to some types of witnesses and to forms witnessed overseas. Please refer to Part 61 of the land title practice manual or speak to a lawyer for more information.

Who can witness?

Note: A witness must not be a party to the instrument.

Australia

If the form is being executed in Australia, the witness must be either:

  • a justice of the peace
  • a commissioner for declarations
  • an Australian lawyer
  • a notary public
  • a licensed conveyancer from another state
  • another person approved by the Registrar of Titles.

Overseas

If the form is being witnessed outside Australia, the witness should be:

  • an Australian consular officer or authorised employee of the Australian Government
  • or
  • a notary public
  • or
  • an Australian lawyer.

In special circumstances, it may be possible for another person to be approved to act as a witness. However, you must apply and obtain approval from the Registrar of Titles before the instrument is lodged. Please refer to Part 61-2400 of the land title practice manual or speak to a lawyer for more information.

A competent officer under the Defence Regulation 2016 (Cth) may witness the execution of a member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) serving outside Australia (or a person who is accompanying the ADF outside Australia).

Overseas witnessing requirements

Additional requirements apply to overseas witnessing.

Before proceeding, please refer to Parts 61-2200 to 61-2220 of the land title practice manual or speak to a lawyer for more information.

Witnessing by Australian consular officers or Commonwealth employees

If your witness is an Australian consular officer or authorised employee of the Commonwealth, the witness will need to complete the Annex 12.2 – Australian Embassy/High Commission/Consulate identity/witnessing certification form (PDF, 23KB). You must attach the completed form when lodging your documents.

Witnessing by other authorised witnesses

Any other authorised witness (e.g. Australian lawyer or notary public) must complete a Form 20 - Identity/witnessing certification which is available from the Titles Registry forms page. This must be lodged along with your documents.

Proof of identity

Witnessing officers are legally required to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of the person signing the form and must keep a record of the steps taken or evidence of doing this.

Witnessing officers can ensure that they take reasonable steps by verifying your identity using the Verification of Identity Standard outlined in Part 61-2700 of the land title practice manual.

If you fail to provide the witnessing officer with adequate proof of your identity, they may decline to witness your signature. You may wish speak to a lawyer about the proof of identity you intend to provide before arranging an appointment with a witnessing officer.

Documents must be current and could include combinations such as the following:

  • Australian passport + Australian driver's licence + change of name or marriage certificate, if necessary
  • proof of age card + full birth certificate +Medicare card + change of name or marriage certificate, if necessary
  • Australian evidence of immigration status ImmiCard or Australian migration status ImmiCard + full birth certificate + another form of government issued identity document + change of name or marriage certificate, if necessary.

Please refer to Parts 61-2300 and 61-2310 of the land title practice manual for further information on the obligations of witnesses to verify your identity.

Proof of entitlement to sign

In addition to verifying the identity of the person signing the form, witnessing officers are also legally required to take reasonable steps to ensure the person signing the form is entitled to do so.

They must keep a record of the steps taken or evidence of doing this.

If you fail to provide adequate evidence of your entitlement to sign the form, they may decline to witness your signature.

Adequate evidence could consist of current documents such as:

  • rates notice for the property issued by your local council
  • current title search for the property
  • registration confirmation statement for the property.

Please refer to Parts 61-2300 and 61-2320 of the land title practice manual for further information on the obligations of witnesses to verify your entitlement to sign.

New purchasers

New purchasers who cannot provide the evidence listed above may provide either:

  • a copy of the contract of sale for the property
  • official loan documentation from their lender
  • a letter from their solicitor confirming their entitlement to sign the form.

Signing under a power of attorney

An attorney for a person or for a corporation can sign a Titles Registry form under the authority of a power of attorney. A signing clause must be inserted adjacent to the signature of the attorney stating '[Name of principal] by their duly constituted attorney [Name of attorney and/or designation attorney] under Power of Attorney [dealing number of registered power of attorney]'.

You will need to produce the original or a certified copy of the power of attorney to the witnessing officer as evidence of entitlement to sign.

The power of attorney is not required to be registered in the Titles Registry at the time of signing the form, but it must be registered prior to registration of the form in the Titles Registry.

For further information on signing under a power of attorney and relevant witnessing requirements, please refer to Part 61-3050 of the land title practice manual.

Company signatures

Corporations can execute documents with or without affixing a company seal. If the seal is not affixed, then the full name of the company and its Australian company number must be shown adjacent to the execution. An execution by a company in this manner does not need to be witnessed. The designations of the signatories must also be shown. See Part 50-2000 of the land title practice manual for more information.

Statutory declarations

If a statutory declaration is required, the requirements that apply to the form and witnessing of the declaration are those of the jurisdiction where the declaration is made.

The Registrar of Titles will accept a statutory declaration made by person under the Oaths Act 1867 (Qld) even if the declaration is made outside Queensland, provided the person taking the declaration is authorised under that Act and the form used is as provided for by that Act.

See Part 60-0260 of the land title practice manual for more information about statutory declaration requirements or speak with a lawyer.

Find a qualified witnessing officer

The Queensland Government has a service to help you find a justice of the peace or commissioner for declarations.

Contact

Titles enquiries 1300 255 750