Notary Public FAQs

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[toggle title=”What is a Notary Public?”]A notary public is an individual appointed under the Notaries Act who may do such things as: certify documents, witness signings, and administer oaths. According to the Notaries Act (Ontario) R.S.O. 1990, CH N.6, a notary public that is a lawyer: “has and may use and exercise the power of drawing, passing, keeping and issuing all deeds and contracts, charter-parties and other mercantile transactions in Ontario, and also of attesting all commercial instruments that may be brought before him or her for public protestation, and otherwise of acting as is usual in the office of notary public, and may demand, receive and have all the rights, profits and emoluments rightfully appertaining and belonging to the calling of notary public.”  According to the Notaries Act (Ontario) R.S.O. 1990, CH N.6, a notary public that is a lawyer may also exercise the powers of a commissioner for taking affidavits in Ontario.”[/toggle]

[toggle title=”How do I become a notary public or commissioner of oaths?”]Non-lawyers seeking information about applications for notaries public and commissioners of oaths must contact the (Ontario) Ministry of the Attorney General at (416) 326-4064.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”What is the difference between a notary public and a commissioner of oaths?”]A commissioner for taking affidavits (also called a commissioner of oaths) only has authority to administer oaths and take affidavits.  The authority is given under the Commissioner for Taking Affidavits Act.  A notary public has much broader authority. A notary public can “notarize” copies of documents (verify as a true copy). Under section 3 of the Notaries Act, they can also: “…exercise the power of drawing, passing, keeping and issuing all deeds and contracts, charter-parties and other mercantile transactions in Ontario, and also attesting of all commercial instruments…”.  Barristers and solicitors in Ontario are automatically commissioners for taking affidavits. They also have the automatic right to be notary publics; however, in order to exercise the notary public function they must apply for and obtain a notary public seal.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Do you Apostille documents?”]No. Canada is not a member to the international treaty that allows for the apostilling of documents.  The alternative to apostilling documents in Canada is a three step process. 1. Getting the document notarized with a Notary Public. 2. Getting the Notary Public’s seal authenticated. 3. Taking the document to the consulate general for the country that you need it for and getting it legalized.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Do I need to be present for the notary public to make a certified copy?”]No. When making and certifying copies of an original document, the Notary Public only needs to see the original of the document to be certified. You can make arrangements with us to have your documents sent to us.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”How do I apply for a non-spouse certificate?”]According to the website of the Ontario Management Board Secretariat, the first requirement for getting married in another country is to obtain a document known as a “Marriage Letter” or a “Search Letter” or a “Letter of Non-Impediment.” This is the Ontario equivalent of a “Single Status Document,” and it simply sets out the fact that you are not recorded as being married.

This letter (or certificate as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade calls it) may need to be supplemented by other documents such as an affidavit of single status, but what they are will depend on the rules of the country in which you are getting married; you should therefore ask the relevant consulate or embassy for guidance.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”What is a certified or notarized copy?”]A notarized copy is a photocopy of an original document that has been certified by a notary public to be a true and accurate copy of the original document. A notarized copy is sometimes referred to as a certified copy.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”What is an oath or 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.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”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 the notary public’s office the document being commissioned should be complete. The document should be read and understood by the deponent. The deponent should not sign the document being commissioned until after the commissioning.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”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.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Can a Notary Public Witness an agreement?”]Yes[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Why would I Want An Agreement Witnessed By A Notary Public?”]If there is ever a dispute about the signing of an agreement, a notary public’s stamp and signature can be used as evidence of the signing of the agreement.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”What is an Affidavit?”]An affidavit is the written equivalent of giving oral evidence under oath by the “deponent”, who is the person who makes the affidavit. It is a written description of facts. The affidavit is sworn or solemnly declared to be true. An affidavit is usually made in the context of court proceedings. Hearsay evidence is allowed as long as the source of the deponent’s information is identified, and the deponent takes an oath that he/she believes the evidence is true.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”What is a Statutory Declaration?”]A statutory declaration is similar to an affidavit, except it is usually drafted for purposes other than court proceedings. It is a solemn declaration authorized by the Canada Evidence Act and the Ontario Evidence Act and is used to assert the truth of any fact or facts or of any account rendered in writing. The declaration is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and therefore has value as evidence.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”What Is A Consent Letter to Travel?”]The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends that if a person younger than 18 is travelling alone or with only one parent or another adult, they have their parents’ consent for such travel.

A notarized letter of consent to travel is proof of such consent.

A notary public can draft and/or notarize this consent document for you. The consent document is drafted according to the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s recommended specifications.

The parent(s) granting consent must attend the notary public’s office with valid photo identification.

Please note that other documents may be required in addition to notarized consent documents. Visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website before you travel to ensure that you have all of your necessary documentation[/toggle]

[toggle title=”What is a Letter of Invitation?”]A letter of invitation is where a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada ‘invites’ a person who, is outside of Canada and wishes to enter Canada on a Temporary Resident Visa. A letter of invitation may be required by a person applying for a Temporary Resident Visa to visit Canada. Some visa offices may require that the letter of invitation be notarized by a notary public.

The letter of invitation must include particular information about both the person inviting the person to Canada and the person being invited.

Once you have the letter of invitation and, if necessary, had it notarized, you must send it to the person you are inviting to Canada. They will then have to submit the letter of invitation to the Canadian Embassy or Consulate outside of Canada when they apply for their Temporary Resident Visa.

A letter of invitation does not guarantee that a visa will be issued.[/toggle]




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