Partner (Spouse) Visa Applications and certified copies

I have written several articles about Partner (Spouse) Visa applications in the past, yet not once have I explained “certified copies”.   In speaking to several people lately who are submitting Partner Visa applications I have realised the concept of certified copies of documents is a mystery to many people.

Just photocopying your birth certificate, marriage certificate and other required documents and sending those copies in with your application is NOT sufficient Certified copies are required in most cases and it will be specified when required.  I have a feeling applicants and sponsors ignore the word “certified” because the term is unfamiliar to them.

 A certified copy is a copy (usually these days a photocopy) of an original document, that has on it an endorsement or certification that it is a true copy of the original document of which it is a copy.  It does not certify that the original document is genuine, only that the copy is a true copy of the original document.

Wikipedia, that wonderful authority on everything, tells us:

A certified copy is largely a creation of English-speaking common law countries, and was designed for administrative convenience. It is usually inexpensive to obtain. A certified copy may be required for official government or court purposes and for commercial purposes. It avoids the owner of important documents (especially identity documents) giving up possession of those documents which might mean a risk of their loss or damage.


I know from my own practical experience the concept of “certified copies” is completely unknown in other parts of the world so I do understand how and why the people I have been speaking to of late have completely ignored or misunderstood the word “certified” in the instructions.

Visa applications are not the only time certified copies are used, of course.  Certified copies are required for any number of uses in everyday life.

The endorsement or certification wording varies, but is usually along the lines of:

I certify that this appears to be a true copy of the original document produced to me on <date>.
Qualification (eg JP, Pharmacist, CPA, Police Officer)


I certify that this is a true copy of the original document.
Name and Qualification

Many professionals, such as police, accountants, pharmacists and others frequently asked to certify documents, have a stamp with the certification wording and will simply sign and date the copy after comparing the copy to the original and stamping the certification stamp.

Who can certify?  People before whom statutory declarations can be made are also authorised to certify copies.  The list can be found here.  Generally there is no charge, although I do note that Australia Post staff may make a small charge per document.

Certified copies are not difficult to organise, but are very important!  Make sure you understand when certified copies are required and ensure that is precisely what you submit with your application.  This will reduce processing delays and that is a benefit to everyone concerned!

Have you ever been confused by the requirements of officialdom?  Please share, because you might help someone else!

If you have found this article helpful, please consider buying the book!

24 comments on “Partner (Spouse) Visa Applications and certified copies

  1. Hello
    I finally found the website that has so much great advice. I need it so bad as I have heaps of questions. I’m going to apply for visa 820 in next couple of weeks. I collected the evidence, now I’m about to start to organising them.We know each other with my partner for 9 years: first few we were couple but living on two different continents (we saw each other regularly and talked through Skype every day). Then last 4 years we lived together in London. I have the evidence from 9 years: plenty of documents and not sure how to organised them. I have got a big office type folder with category dividers (financial, social, comitment etc). I heard that stapler isn’t good option so can I use sheet protectors to keep bigger documents together? Another question is about photos we included pictures from different times and travels but I didn’t want to make the whole thing bigger that it is so I printed small photos and glued them on A4 sheets according to timeline of our relationship. I thought it was good way to condense it but now I’m not sure.I also printed Whats up and Skype conversations but just samples as we text and talked a lot so it would be huge pile all together. I know that it was discussed earlier but the whole case with certified copies makes me feel very unsettled. Big part of my evidence are prints from computers and logically I wouldn’t certify them. However my colleague told me that she certified every page in her evidence and that person she handed it to was impressed that someone finally did it the way it should be. She applied few years back and she was living with her partner for over year so obviously her evidence was much smaller but still. Last question is how big this evidence should be I have already 150 pages (without SP forms) after strict selection should I keep it like that or add more things I have? Sorry I know so many questions but I’m getting worry.


    • Izabella, I am so sorry I am late replying. My understanding is if you apply on line there is a limitation to how much you can attach, but it sounds like you are applying in hard copy? I didn’t certify printouts or photos, but anything that was a copy of a document such as bank statements, property leases, marriage certificates – anything at all like that I had certified.

      With the phone records I printed the call lists and with chat logs I printed out some messages and included the logs. You are right, it can get bigger than Ben Hur if you are not careful.

      You sound as if you are well prepared. Organisation always helps! I’d stay away from staples too.

      Best wishes!


  2. Thank you I have found this site has some great advice, much needed!

    I am currently applying for the partner 820 visa and my partner/sponsor’s dad is a justice of peace so he can certify documents but do you know if he is able to certify our documents if he’s a family member? Please advise

    thank you 🙂


  3. When applying from overseas is it necessary to get Australian citizens on the occupation list to certify documents? Or can I go to a citizen of my current country or paid notary public on the occupation list to do it?

    Thanks for your help and website, such a great resource throughout the whole process


    • Refer to the “Certified Document” section here: http://www.immi.gov.au/visas/more-info.htm

      You can get documents certified by whatever mechanism is legal in your country or go to the Australian office wjere you will lodge your application and they will have someone who can certify.

      Thank you for your kind words!


      • I found out there is an Australian consulate in New York that can certify documents.

        However, I also received this reply from DIAC which may help others living in USA where many states don’t have an Australian consulate or allow document certifications

        “In reference to your email, if you are in New York and Notary Publics are unable to certify documents you can complete an Affidavit of Oath declaring it is a true copy and the Notary would witness your signature.”


      • Thanks for the local tip Josh. 🙂

        Sadly, I believe there is a charge for notary witness. We had terrible trouble in Nigeria. $US100 for each copy.


  4. hi there, just wanna hear from you a lil idea to clear my mind coz im a lil bit confused bout my spousal visa application, iam married to an australian. In my application , i used my single surname coz thats what on my passport, is that ok? then id like to know also if i need to certified true copy the pictures since iam planning to photocopy in colored what i pasted on bondpaper, i hope to hear what idea u can advice to me,,,thanks so much


    • Hi Analee,

      As I am not a registered agent, I cannot advise you with specifics. The questions you have asked you could get your husband to ask the department here in Australia. The ideal situation would be to have your passport in your married name, BUT I also realise that not everyone would be in that situation. Here in Australia we can be issued with a free replacement passport in our married name. Is that possible in your country?

      It might be wise to ask before you pay the application fee.

      With photos, I would get them printed again, I wouldn’t send photocopies of photos, but then again, I don’t know if it is OK to do that or not. As I say, those very specific details you are better asking either the department or a MARA agent. I can only tell you what we did, which was to print the photos.

      Best wishes with your application!


      • hello ,thanks for the advice, my husband mentioned to me that he meet someone there who said she used her single passport sinced it wasnt expire yet at it was ok,,,but i want to be extra careful thats why i seek also your opinion. I’ve read also in one article “just forgot the title ‘ where an agent said he just photocopy in colored all the pictures that the client gave to him and didnt send the original. Well, i think its a case to case basis, it depends on situation and what counrty you are in. maybe what worked on other might be diffirent to another. Sorry coz iam planning to lodge my application myself .so im just surfing on net to get info. Found your site interesting so i kept on checking here from time to time but just had my guts to asked you questions … thanks so much and more power …. 🙂


      • The department say don’t send original pictures (cos they don’t send them back!) – like if you have a special wedding photo professionally done. But in this day and age it is usually easy to just reprint them on your home computer or in a store. Also you can burn the photos (if you have the files) to a CD and send them in that way.

        Technology changes all the time and means there is a broader range of options. 🙂

        Best of luck with your application – just make sure you check all the forms for consistency – i.e. make sure your date of birth is correct on ALL the forms. It can be easy to make a mistake when there are so many!


  5. […] Partner (Spouse) Visa Applications and certified copies […]


  6. Hi we are hoping to put our application in tomorrow and was wondering do the 40SP, 47SP and Form 80 have to be certified/ sighted by a JP when we sign and date them?


    • Thanks for the question Bec. I have replied to you directly via email.

      For other readers, with the caveat that I am NOT a migration agent, department forms that require to be sworn before a JP or other appropriate person have that provision on the form. Look at the Form 888 as an example. Also read carefully the Partnership Booklet, which is a very good guide on those technical type issues.


  7. Hi there, my partner and I are applying for a partner visa (as defacto’s, we lived together in the UK for a year and now he is living with me here in Australia, currently on a work holiday visa, about to apply for a partner visa) When it comes to certified copies, I’m wondering how much of our documents need to be certified as I’ve heard some mixed information from others who have applied. We have certified copies of financial documents, bank statements, proof of address and the required stat decs, however a lot of our supporting documents are printed emails, screen shots of Facebook correspondence, Skype history, photos etc. I’m not sure how to go about certifying these documents as I cannot show an “original copy” to the person certifying them without … bringing my laptop?? Do you happen to know about this? Is it necessary for these sorts of things to be certified?


    • Hi Tanya,

      Yes, it is a valid question! I agree, some of the evidenciary documents are not worth certifying, in my opinion. However, remember the caveat: certifying just certifies the copy is a copy of the document presented, NOT that the document itself is genuine. Even so, I don’t think we certified printouts of phone messages and emails either. The web page headers and foots were there where we printed from the internet sites and I sent an original (i.e. not a photocopy) print where I printed phone call listings and so on.

      The department expect certain documents to be certified and anything that is sensible to have certified we certainly did, but I agree with you: emails and screen shots of Facebook messages you are usually sending original prints anyway. Gone are the days when it was possible to tell the difference between a photocopy and a printout as these days the printers are also photocopiers!

      Make sure you send original police clearances – certified copies are not sufficient for those.

      I think you sound as if you are on the right track.

      Best wishes with your application.


  8. Ah the certified copies. Thank God for them. Every time I want to do anything. They want copies of every document attached to me since birth. It gets so complicated that I’m still traveling on a passport with my 1st husbands last name on it. One of these days, I’ll get around to figuring out when exactly I divorced him (it’s been decades) so I can get a certified copy of the divorce decree and put things to right.


    • Don’t I know THAT saga! When I got my last passport, I needed certified copies of enough documents to prove every change of name from birth to now. Men rarely change their surnames! How easy they have it! I do in fact know two men who took their wives surnames upon marriage, but chalk up a divorce and anything else and you need ALL that paper every time. Plus I need my citizenship certificate and my change of name (overseas marriage certificate not recognised for change of name, although the marriage is recognised!) and I am sure I needed something else but I can’t remember what it was. Enough to send a person insane!


  9. […] Partner (Spouse) Visa Applications and certified copies […]


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