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  • Writer's pictureBridget Lontok

Notary Public and Commissioner of Oaths, what's the difference?

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

A Notary Public has all the powers of a Commission of Oaths plus some.

Commissioner of Oaths

Who is a Commissioner of Oaths?

In Ontario all lawyers and paralegals are deemed to be commissioners of oaths. Other people can apply to be commissioners of oaths if they need to be one for their jobs.

What does a Commissioner of Oaths do?

A Commissioner of Oaths does not provide legal advice. They can take affidavits and declarations that are to be used for legal proceedings in Ontario. Once an affidavit is commissioned, the statements in the affidavit may be entered into evidence in a legal proceeding just as if the person was testifying in court; this is why the affidavit must be commissioned.

A Commissioner of Oaths will verify your identity. This is usually done by examining your current and valid driver's license or other similar piece of photo identification.

A Commissioner of Oaths will ask you if you understand the contents of the affidavit. You must understand what you are signing, but you need to remember that the Commission of Oaths is not providing you with legal advice and they cannot explain it to you. If you need help then you should retain a lawyer or a paralegal.

The Commissioner of Oaths will ask you to swear, affirm or declare that the contents of the document are true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. You will be asked to confirm that you understand that you will be legally bound to the statements in the document; to be legally bound means that you could face legal consequences for not telling the truth. You will then be asked to confirm that you are signing the document of your own free will.

You will then sign the document.

Once the Commissioner of Oaths is satisfied that they have verified your signature they will stamp and sign the document.

Notary Publics

Who is a Notary Public?

Not all lawyers and paralegals are notary publics. Lawyers and paralegals can apply to be appointed as notary publics. Other people can also apply to be notary publics.

What does a Notary Public do?

A Notary Public does not provide legal advice.

A Notary Public can do everything that a Commissioner of Oaths can, plus some. A Notary Public can also "witness or certify, and attest, the execution of a document; certify and attest a true copy of a document" (The Notaries Act, s 3(1)(a)(b)).

The process is very similar to having an affidavit commissioned. The Notary will have you swear, affirm or declare and they will ask you to confirm you understand and that you are signing the document with your own free will. If the Notary is certifying a true copy of document, the Notary will inspect the original document, make copies, notarize the copies and provide a certificate.

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