- What's a notary public?
- What's the correct usage and spelling?
- What's a Commissioner of Oaths?
- What's a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits?
- How to become a Notary Public?
- How to become a Commissioner of Oaths?
- What are the similarities and differences?
Notary Public is often incorrectly spelled as "notory public" or by switching the ordering to "public notary". The plural form of Notary Public is "notaries public" or just "notaries" which is again often incorrectly spelled as "notories public", "notarys public", and "notary publics."
A notary public is a person legally authorized to:
- attest declarations,
- administer oaths,
- take affidavits,
- commission statutory declarations,
- confirm identities,
- witnessing signatures,
- authenticate or certify documents or copies of documents as certified true copies,
- execute, attesting, drawing, passing, keeping and issuing all deeds and contracts, charter-parties and other mercantile transactions and commercial instruments that may be brought before him or her for public protestation.
In most jurisdictions around the world, private persons may apply and take examinations to become a notary public. Once appointed as a notary public such a person is then authorized to perform some, but not all, of the above noted tasks with limitations including territory, duration (approximately three years) and scope of the task.
In Canada, non-lawyers who wish to be appointed as notaries public can do so by submitting an application through the Ministry of the Attorney General for appointment under the provincial Lieutenant Governor. Again, non-lawyer notaries public will have limitations in their powers including, territory, duration and scope of the task.
A lawyer does not have an automatic power of a notary public until he or she is appointed by applying for registration through the Official Documents Services branch of the Provincial Government Services. Therefore, most but not all lawyers are notaries public. But once appointed, the lawyer-notary may perform all noted tasks mentioned above without restrictions and limitations in territory, duration, and scope. In Ontario, notaries public's powers are based on the Notaries Act.
In contrast, a commissioner of oaths or commissioner or sometimes referred to as a commissioner for taking affidavits etc. in and for the Courts and the Province of ____________(specify the name of the Province), is a person who is appointed by virtue of certain offices he/she holds (municipal, provincial and federal employees (Tax) and clerks, elected officials/councillors) or by professions (lawyers, paralegals, engineers etc.). A commissioner of oaths is legally authorized to:
- witness a signature
- administer and commission oaths
- attesting affidavits and statutory declarations,
When a person a person is appointed by virtue of his or her profession, there is no need to apply to become a commissioner of oaths. A commissioner of oaths' powers are legislatively based on the Commissioner for Taking Affidavits Act. It is noteworthy that pursuant to the Commissioner of Taking Act, a Commissioner of Oaths does not have the legal authority to certify documents as true copies or having the ability to bind parties to contracts and agreements.
Non-lawyer commissioners of oaths will have limits in the manner they may commission documents. Usually their powers are limited to the task/scope specific to their office or profession and their powers will be limited to a three-year term with permission to renew as well as territory restrictions to a city or province. They do not have the authority to commission documents for federal and international use, unless they are federal employees or federal elected officials.
Whereas, lawyers who are admitted to practice law by the Law Society will have the power by virtue of their profession to witness, commission and administer and commission oaths, affidavits and statutory declarations for use across all jurisdictions without limitations.
Both the Notaries Act and the Commissioner for Taking Affidavits Act have sanctions and prosecution consequences for those found guilty of breaching these Acts.
For certainty that your documents will not get rejected or delayed, it would be wise to contact a person who has the legal designations of a lawyer, notary public, and commissioner of oaths.