COVID Changes – Who can Witness a Statutory Declaration in NSW

Those that can witness Statutory Declarations has changed in NSW due to COVID.  It is evident from many conversations with clients and countless posts on social media that this is not widely known.  Not even those that can now witness them know they can. 

There had always been a disconnect between the witnessing of Statutory Declarations on a Federal and State basis in NSW.  As a CPA, I could witness statutory declarations for Federal related declarations – ie Centrelink, Medicare, the Australian Taxation Office.  However, I could not witness NSW state-based declarations which was the domain of JPs and solicitors.  That was until the NSW Government updated the rules. 

On 22 April 2020, the NSW Government enacted the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 

The objects of this Regulation are, during the COVID-19 pandemic—

  1. to provide that documents that require a witness may be witnessed by audio visual link;
  2. to provide that tasks in relation to witnessing a document may be performed by audio visual link;
  3. to allow an oath, declaration or affidavit required for a purpose specified in section 26 of the Oaths Act 1900 to be taken or made before an Australian legal practitioner, and
  4. to allow a statutory declaration to be made before a person before whom a statutory declaration under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 of the Commonwealth may be made.

It is objective 4 which is the one that will affect the majority of those that struggle to find JPs to witness NSW statutory declarations.

From 22 April 2020 the NSW rules have been brought in line with the Federal rules and the following are now able to witness NSW Statutory Declarations:

These people can witness your statutory declaration if they are licenced in Australia or if they are registered to practice their work in Australia.

  • architect
  • chiropractor
  • dentist
  • financial adviser or financial planner
  • legal practitioner, with or without a practicing certificate
  • medical practitioner
  • midwife
  • migration agent registered under Division 3 of Part 3 of the Migration Act 1958
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • optometrist
  • patent attorney
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • psychologist
  • trade marks attorney
  • veterinary surgeon

These people can witness your statutory declaration because they are a member of a professional body or organisation in Australia or they work in a position connected to Australia.

  • accountant who is:
    1. a fellow of the National Tax Accountants’ Association, or
    2. a member of:
      1. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
      2. the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants
      3. CPA Australia
      4. the Institute of Public Accountants
  • agent of the Australian Postal Corporation (Australia Post) who is in charge of an office that provides postal services to the public
  • permanent employee of the Australian Postal Corporation with 5 or more years of continuous service who is employed in an office supplying postal services to the public
  • APS employee engaged on an ongoing basis with 5 or more years of continuous service who is not specified in another item of this Part
  • Australian Consular Officer or Australian Diplomatic Officer under Consular Fees Act 1955
  • bailiff
  • bank officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • building society officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • chief executive officer of a Commonwealth court
  • clerk of a court
  • Commissioner for Affidavits
  • Commissioner for Declarations
  • credit union officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • permanent employee of a Commonwealth authority- external site with 5 or more years of continuous service who is not specified in another item in this Part
  • engineer who is:
    1. a member of Engineers Australia but not a student
    2. a Registered Professional Engineer of Professionals Australia
    3. registered as an engineer under a law of the Commonwealth, a state or territory, or
    4. registered on the National Engineering Register by Engineers Australia
  • finance company officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • holder of a statutory office not specified in another item in this list
  • judge
  • Justice of the Peace
  • magistrate
  • marriage celebrant registered under the Marriage Act 1961
  • master of a court
  • member of the Australian Defence Force who is:
    1. an officer, or
    2. a non-commissioned officer within the meaning of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 with 5 or more years of continuous service, or
    3. a warrant officer within the meaning of that Act
  • member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
  • member of the Governance Institute of Australia Ltd
  • member of:
    1. the parliament of the Commonwealth
    2. the parliament of a state
    3. a territory legislature
    4. a local government authority
  • minister of religion registered under the Marriage Act 1961
  • notary public, including a notary public (however described) exercising functions at a place outside:
    1. the Commonwealth, and
    2. the external territories of the Commonwealth
  • permanent employee of a state or territory, or a state or territory authority, with 5 or more years of continuous service, other than such an employee who is specified in another item of this Part
  • permanent employee of a local government authority with 5 or more years of continuous service, other than such an employee who is specified in another item of this Part
  • person before whom a statutory declaration may be made under the law of the state or territory in which the declaration is made
  • police officer
  • prison officer employed by the Commonwealth or a state, territory or local government authority with more than 5 years of continuous service
  • registrar, or deputy registrar, of a court
  • senior executive employee of a Commonwealth authority
  • senior executive employee of a state or territory
  • SES employee of the Commonwealth
  • sheriff
  • sheriff’s officer
  • teacher employed full-time or part-time at a school or tertiary education institution

Initially this was enacted for six months which was extended until 31 December 2021 under the Stronger Communities Legislation Amendment (Courts and Civil) Act 2020.  Let us hope that sanity prevails and that the NSW Government decides to continue with the harmony with the Federal rules. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *