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05 Identity Verification


Summary

Establishing the identity of a person is an important part of a JP's role. Identity verification has two purposes:
  1. For recording and witnessing of signatures.
  2. When a JP is required to confirm/certify/verify a person's identity for another purpose.

1. Identification required for recording or other purposes

As a JP it is advisable to confirm a person's identity. This may be for your recording purposes (Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of Declarations Act 1991 s35A). While it is not mandatory for all documents it is wise to ask for proof of identity. If a person is signing a document it is necessary to confirm the person named in a document is the person signing the document. Documents relating to property ownership definitely do require proof of identity for example.

It is preferable that the proof of identification document should have a signature and a photo of the person (Personal/photo ID). Examples are Driver Licence, Proof of Age Card, Passport and Australia Post Keypass card, Immicards. Where such documents cannot be provided it is possible to use other documents in combination such as Pension/Health cards, students cards, credit, debit and bank cards, Medicare cards, and so on (Community ID). These can be used in combination with Home Address ID, Rates, bills, bank statements providing the address. JP Bulletin Issue 11:2016. Carefully note in your log book the type of identity card(s) used to establish the person's identity. Remember not to record identity document numbers as per Technical Bulletin 01/09.

A more detailed list of Personal/photo and Community identity documents and home address evidence is given on the Qld Government legal page.

If a person is unable to supply identification, e.g. loss or destruction, you may write on the document "Identification was not sighted" as per Technical Bulletin 01/13. Record this in your log book.

Process

The general process for witnessing a person's signature:
  1. Ask to see the person's identity document(s)
  2. Match with name on the document to be witnessed
  3. Witness that the document is signed in front of you
If the person: 
  • has already signed the document before coming before you, and
  • it is practicable, for example there is still enough space in signature box with a constrained border
cross out and initial with the person the original signature on the document. Have the person sign the document again. If this is not practicable, consider having the person sign on a separate sheet and carefully compare the original signature, the signature on the ID and the signature on the separate sheet before proceeding to witness the document.

2. Confirm/verify/certify the identity of the client

JPs are frequently requested to formally confirm/verify/certify a person's identity for specific purposes. Some formats require a declaration from the JP. Examples of these are:
  • Application for a blue card: normally employer organisation sights identity documents, but a JP can act as a prescribed person and witness the sighting of identity documents from 2 lists shown on the form - the lists and detailed process appear in the QJA Guide Chapter 7.
  • Application for a white card issued to persons who successfully complete training in safety aspects of the construction industry: the JP witnesses (1) a Statutory Declaration making statements about the time date, location and conduct of the training, and (2) certified copies of identity documents.
  • Land Title Documents: see the Land Title Documents chapter.
  • Witness certificate for mortgagor: see the Land Title Documents chapter.
  • Photos: check the requirement of the institution requesting the verification. On the back write "This is a true photograph/likeness of xxxx xxx xxxxx", add the JP signature, full name, title, number, and date. Some institutions require a certification by the JP signing the photo. Check the form requesting the photos. 
  • Children visiting a prisoner. Photos of the child are required. The JP must see the child and endorse the photo.
  • Form 27 Application to visit prisoner: JP certifies the copies of identity documents only.
  • International proof of life. A person receiving a social benefit from another country other than Australia may be required to submit a "proof of life document". Formats vary by country but require the sighting and recording of one or more identity documents. Examine the document to determine if a JP has authority to act as a witness rather than a notary or consular official. Verify the person's signature, then add JP signature, full name, title, number and date.
  • International driver licence application: usually requires a translation into English where the person signs, followed by the JP witnessing the signature in the usual way.
  • NSW Statutory Declarations and Affidavits require the witness to state how identity was confirmed. Whilst it is not mandatory for a Queensland JP to follow this procedure, it is advisable. See Technical Bulletin 06/12.
  • Muslim women wearing niqab: follow the instructions in Technical Bulletin 11/09.

Notes

  • An expired driver licence is acceptable for identity purposes provided the photo correctly identifies the person. Note this in your log book.

References

  • JP Handbook, Chapter 2
  • QJA Guide, Chapter 4
  • QJA Guide, Chapter 7
  • Keypass Identity Card, Australia Post
  • JP Bulletin Issue 11 July 2016, pages 15-16
  • Technical Bulletin 11/09, December 2009