The Difference Between a Notary Public and a Commissioner for Oaths

Understanding Commissioning vs. Notarising Documents

People will often confuse having a document notarised and having a document commissioned. Understanding the difference between a notary public and a commissioner for oaths can be confusing. This misunderstanding can lead to spending money you do not have to, delays in completing documents, and the rejection of a document being submitted. We are able to help you understand what you require in Alberta. We can then notarise or commission your documents.

What is a Commissioner for Oaths?

Section 15(1) of the Notaries and Commissioners Act in Alberta allows for people to be appointed (by the Alberta Government) to be a Commissioner for Oaths. A Commissioner for Oaths is able to take and receive affidavits, affirmations and declarations in and for Alberta. They have a stamp that is used along with their signature but no seal. These appointments expire and must be renewed. More information regarding commissioner for oaths services is available here.

There are also people who are commissioners for oaths by virtue of their office or status. These people include:

• Judges
• Lawyers
• Notaries Public
• Students-at-Law
• Political Representatives
• Police Officers

What is a Notary Public?

Section 4(1) of the Notaries and Commissioners Act in Alberta allows for a Notary Public to:

• administer oaths or take affidavits, affirmations or declarations and attest the oaths, affidavits, affirmations or declarations;
• certify and attest a true copy of a document; and
• witness or certify and attest the execution of a document.

A notary has a stamp and seal when they sign off on documents and they are specifically allowed to be used in Alberta, within Canada and internationally.

So What is the Difference Between a Notary Public and a Commissioner for Oaths?

The main difference between a notary public and a commissioner for oaths is where the document is to be used as well as what a person needs. For a simple taking of an oath, both positions allow if for use and made in Alberta. Once outside the province, a notary is required. For example, the Alberta Land Titles office will not accept an affidavit of execution that is sworn in Ontario if the document is commissioned. It will allow it if the affidavit is notarised.

A further difference between a notary public and a commissioner for oaths is that only a notary can make a certified true copy of a document, attest an oath or certify the execution of a document.

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