The Role of Notaries and Commissioners of Oath

In Canada, there are two ways to perform legal notarizations. While they might seem similar on the surface, it’s important to understand their differences if you need either of these services and choose one over the other.

The terms notary and commissioner of oaths are often used, but there is an important distinction between the two. They serve different purposes in different situations, so knowing how each work will make it easier to determine which one you’ll need in your case.


A notary is an individual who was app by the Ministry of the Attorney General to serve as an impartial witness to the signing of documents. A notary’s primary role is to prevent fraud and ensure that the person signing a document is who they say they are.

They do this by examining the signer’s identification, ensuring that the signer can understand what they’re signing.

They witness their signature and then affix their seal to show it as done in accordance with the law.

The use of a notary seal is only valid in the state where its issued. It cannot come handy in any other state or country. The term notary comes from the medieval Latin word notarius, which translates to the official. A notary is often referred to as a public servant or officer of the court.


A commissioner of oaths is a person designated by the province to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and statutory declarations, and certify authentic copies of original documents.

Commissioners are also responsible for witnessing marriages or other ceremonies in some provinces.

In Ontario, for example, commissioners need to authorise themselves before they can perform any legal service.

To get authorization, you need to go through an application process that includes: Passing an exam administered by (LSUC) with 75% or higher.


A criminal record checks from the RCMP National Repository (fingerprints is essential).

Being interviewed by a panel of lawyers from LSUC’s lawyer disciplinary committee.

Commissioners are not lawyers and should not give legal advice, but they do have powers over various aspects of people’s lives. It includes issuing marriage licenses, making decisions about custody arrangements, and conducting funerals.


Notaries and commissioners of oaths serve different purposes. Notaries are often concerned with witnessing signatures on legal documents, while commissioners of oaths administer oaths and affirmations.

In general, notaries are more expensive than commissioners, but they can provide more comprehensive services. A commissioner of oaths is somehow qualified to offer only the administration of an oath or affirmation; if you need notarization or acknowledgment, you’ll need to find another official who has got appointed as both. If you’re unsure which type of officer you need for your particular situation, consult an attorney who has a license in your state.


A Notary is a person who has a license by the province to witness signatures on documents and administer oaths. A commissioner of oaths is someone who got appointed by the province to take affidavits, declarations, or affirmations.

They got authorized to have people swear an oath that they are telling the truth when they make a statement. For example, in Ontario, you can get your driver’s license renewed at the Ministry of Transportation, and the staff will administer an oath on whether you qualify for renewal.

Here we will outline the idea for Understanding Commissioning Vs. Notarizing documents. The oath taker asked to raise their right hand and state, “I solemnly swear that I am qualified,” for renewal before getting their picture taken. In this case, the individual swearing an oath is not taking any risks because there is no legal consequence if they lie under oath.

However, as mentioned earlier in this post, an affidavit is somehow used when witnesses give testimony about criminal matters where there could be legal consequences if someone gives false testimony.


If you’re interested in becoming a notary or commissioner of oaths, there are a few things you should know about the process and the benefits. Here’s a quick rundown Commissioners of oaths must be at least 18 years old with the legal capacity to take an oath to administer an oath.

They have the power to swear-in witnesses, sign affidavits and affirmations, and certify copies. However, they cannot administer an affirmation or grant immunity from prosecution for perjury in a court proceeding; only a notary can do that. Commissioners of oaths also make sure any documents signed by them conform to standards set by law.

There is no formal training required, but many commissioners go through a certification course given by their state agency before becoming certified.

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