Notices of Intended Marriage signed in Australia can be witnessed by people with a number of different qualifications. Most are pretty straightforward: an authorised celebrant, a justice of the peace, a barrister or solicitor, or a member of the Australian Federal Police or the police force of a State or Territory. Easy, right?

There’s one qualification on the list that trips up a lot of couples and a lot of celebrants: legally qualified medical practitioner. What exactly does that mean?

A legally qualified medical practitioner is a person registered by the Medical Board of Australia. They will be either a general practitioner or a specialist doctor. Basically, if the specialty appears on this list, issued by the Medical Board of Australia, the practitioner is a legally qualified medical practitioner: Medical-List-of-specialties–fields-and-related-titles-Registration-Standard

Give me some examples, I can hear you saying. That list is three pages long, so there are a LOT of medical specialties. Here’s just a few you may be familiar with:

  • anaesthetist
  • obstetrician
  • ophthalmologist (not to be confused with an optometrist; they are not medical practitioners but allied health practitioners)
  • paediatrician
  • cardiologist
  • endocrinologist
  • nephrologist
  • surgeon
  • psychiatrist (not be confused with psychologist; they are not medical practitioners but allied health practitioners)

Now, who’s not on this list? Here’s just a few:

  • pharmacist
  • nurse
  • dentist
  • physiotherapist
  • chiropractor
  • psychologist

These people would be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) rather than with the Medical Board of Australia.

So the next time you receive a NOIM witnessed by a pharmacist, you’ll know to send it back and tell them to try again, this time with a medical practitioner registered by the Medical Board of Australia.

PS: I’ll discuss Commissioners for Declarations in another post.

Legal stuff

The requirement for a NOIM signed in Australia to be signed in the presence of a person who falls into one of these categories is outlined in section 42(2)(c) of the Marriage Act 1961 and further discussed on page 51 of the Guidelines on the Marriage Act for Marriage Celebrants 2014.