Signing a document with a commissioner for oaths

Commissioner for oaths vs. notary public: which one do you need?

When dealing with official documents, you may sometimes be instructed to have either a commissioner for oaths or a notary public oversee the process. But what exactly is the difference? What does each one do and which do you need for your particular situation? Determining who the right person is to handle your legal documents can be confusing, so Registrations Are Us has created the following brief guide to help you figure it out.

What does a commissioner for oaths do?

Commissioners for oaths endorse declarations and affirmations. Essentially, an oath, declaration or affirmation is a spoken or written statement that is sworn to be true by the person making it. For example, affidavits used in court cases or land transactions can be endorsed by a commissioner. Certain people, such as judges, lawyers, police officers and notaries, among others, are automatically considered commissioners for oaths, while people not declared commissioners by law can apply to become one. Documents endorsed by a commissioner may only be used within the province, and commissioners cannot certify true copies of documents.

What does a notary public do?

In addition to endorsing declarations and affirmations and witnessing signatures, a notary public may make and certify true copies of official documents such as passports and birth certificates. As with commissioners, certain people are considered notaries automatically, in this case judges, lawyers and students-at-law, as well as political representatives. Individuals may also apply to become notaries. Documents endorsed by notaries public can be used outside the province in which they were endorsed.

Which do you need?

If the documents you need endorsed are to be used within Alberta, and you don’t require a certified true copy, a commissioner for oaths should be able to handle your task. If you need to use the documents outside of Alberta in another province or country, or if you need a certified true copy, a notary public is your best choice. Since there is some overlap between the two roles, your notary can act as a commissioner for oaths.

Commissioners for oaths in Alberta

At Registrations Are Us, our commissioners for oaths are authorized to handle oaths, affirmations and declarations for a number of purposes, such as lost or damaged passports, pension documents and real estate licenses, among others. Need a commissioner? Contact us today! We’re open seven days a week and are here to answer your questions.


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