What is an Oath and Solemn Declaration?
An oath is when a person swears that the contents of a document are true and correct. A solemn declaration is when a person solemnly declares that the contents of a document are true and correct. An oath and a solemn declaration have essentially the same legal effect.
The person making the oath or solemn declaration is called a deponent. The act of administering an oath or solemn declaration is called commissioning an oath.
It is not necessary that the deponent hold a religious book, or raise his/her hand to undertake an oath or solemn declaration.
A person may be prosecuted criminally for knowingly making a false oath or solemn declaration.
How Does a Notary Public Commission an Oath or Solemn Declaration?
A notary public should verify the identity of the deponent (usually by examining photographic identification), satisfy himself or herself that the deponent has read and understands the document being commissioned. The deponent will then affirm or swear that the contents of the document are true and correct. The deponent will then sign the document in front of the notary public. The notary public will then sign the document, seal the document, and certify on the document that an oath or solemn declaration has been duly commissioned.
A notary public does not certify that the statement being made is true. Rather, a notary public only certifies that an oath or solemn declaration has been administered (commissioned). No legal advice is given during a commissioning of an oath. In most cases, a notary public will not need to read the document being commissioned.
When attending a notary public’s office the document being commissioned should be complete but not signed. The document should be read and understood by the deponent.
Does the Oath or Solemn Declaration Have to Be Commissioned In Person?
Yes. A deponent must take an oath or solemn declaration in front of a person, such as a notary public, who is qualified to take oaths. An oath or solemn declaration cannot be made over the telephone.