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What is the difference between an oath and an affirmation?

An oath is defined as a form of attestation by which a person signifies that he or she is bound in conscience or by fear of judgment by a supreme being to perform an act faithfully and truthfully. An affirmation is a legal substitute for an oath. The affirmation is a solemn personal pledge of honor that the statement is true. The affirmation is used when the signer expresses opposition to the form of an oath (most often because of religious reasons).

What is a jurat certificate?

A certificate, usually on an affidavit, by an officer (or other person before whom a writing is sworn) showing by whom, when, and before whom it was sworn.

How do I administer an oath?

To instill in the signer the realization that an oath carries criminal penalties, the notary should raise his hand and ask the following:
“Do you solemnly swear that the statements contained in this document are the truth, so help you God? The signer must answer in the affirmative (i.e. “Yes, I swear.”).
“Do you solemnly swear that the individual signing this document has the identity he or she claims? The credible witness must answer in the affirmative (i.e. “I so swear.”).

The date of the execution of the document and the date of the jurat certificate are not the same date. Don’t both dates have to match?

Yes. The date of the execution of the document and the date of the execution of the notarization must match on a document that contains a jurat certificate.

Can I take an oath by proxy?

No. No one can swear under the penalties of perjury for another individual or a corporation.

Can I refuse to notarize a document if the signer does not want to swear or affirm under the penalties of perjury?

Yes. If a signer objects to such formality and ceremony, the notary public must refuse the notarization. The failure to administer an oath or affirmation may subject the notary public to civil and criminal liability. Many courts and other legal authorities have invalidated legal instruments because notaries failed to administer an oath or affirmation as part of their notarial acts as required by law.

Can I refuse to notarize a document if the signer does not understand the consequences of swearing or affirming under the penalties of perjury?

A notary should make an observation of the person’s demeanor to determine whether or not the person actually understands the true meaning and consequences of the oath or affirmation. If the signer does not display a true understanding of an oath or affirmation, the notary public must decline to perform the notarial act.

May I administer an oath or affirmation by telephone?

No. An oath and affirmation may not be administered over the telephone.

Can I execute a jurat certificate for an attorney-in-fact with a power of attorney?

No. If the document contains a jurat certificate, an individual cannot act in a representative capacity as the attorney-in-fact for the principal signer because the attorney-in-fact cannot swear an oath under the penalty of perjury for the principal signer.

Are there certain jurat certificates that pertain to Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, Family Limited Partnerships, corporations, and husband/wife transactions?

Most states only provide the standard jurat certificate with which notaries public are commonly familiar. Please consult an attorney for legal advice regarding such certificate forms.

Do I administer the oath before or after the deposition?

Before the onset of the deposition proceedings.

I have an affidavit that needs to be notarized, and under the signature line it reads: "Commissioner for taking affidavits." Am I able to notarize it?

Sometimes, notaries public are presented with documents that contain notarial certificates with alternating words under the notary signature line such as: “Officer administering oath,” “Officer taking acknowledgment,” “Official signature,” and “Commissioner for taking affidavits” because the statutes in many states refer to them that way. The term “commissioner” also means an officer. When a notary public is executing a jurat certificate that contains any of the above-referenced phrases, the notary must write a line through the words “Commissioner for taking affidavits” and add the words “Notary Public.”

How do I complete the following: “Subscribed and sworn before me by the said ____________.” Do I put the grantor's name in the blank?

If the notarial certificate has the words “by the said,” a notary public may write after such words the name of the signer; or, if the signer has been referred to in the document as the grantor or affiant, the notary can use the same terminology.

Is a jurat allowed in all states?

Yes. Notaries public in all states are empowered to administer an oath or affirmation. In the performance of administering an oath, the notary public must provide certificate of such oath or affirmation.

What is the difference between a jurat and an acknowledgment?

A jurat is a statement by a person who swears upon oath or affirmation that the statement (either written or verbal) is true and given under the penalty of perjury. An acknowledgment dictates that the signer make a formal declaration before the notary public that he signed the document as his own free act and deed and for the purposes stated therein.

Do notaries public have the authority to administer an oath?


How can I tell if a document contains the elements of a jurat certificate?

A notary public can spot a jurat certificate by the fundamental words “sworn to.”

Can I notarize an affidavit for an attorney-in-fact who has a power of attorney?

No. An attorney-in-fact cannot swear under the penalties of perjury for the principal.

Can I make alterations to a jurat certificate with incorrect information?

Yes, at the time of the execution of the notarization and in the presence of the signer, a notary can make minor alterations or corrections and insert new information. Mark through incorrect information.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss, or consequential loss, out of or in connection with the use of the information contained on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions.