Notary Public vs Commissioner of Oaths: What’s the Difference?

A notary public and commissioner of oaths are two functions in a law office that many people always get confused with and tend not to know about. Most of the time, it is assumed that these two roles are one and the same. Understanding the difference will ensure that you make an appointment with the right person prior to submitting your legal document.


A notary public is essentially an official who is appointed by a state government to help deter any fraud that might occur when dealing with official documents such as deeds, affidavits, contracts, licenses, trusts, estates, foreign and international business, and power-of-attorney. They are meant to witness the signing of said important legal documents or papers, which are usually being used and sent worldwide, and must verify the identification of the signee or the signatory, as well as the person’s willingness to approve the documents and recognize the contents of the said transaction or legal documents. In addition to witnessing signatures, a notary public may also certify true copies of an original document, and uses a stamp and a seal when they sign off documents. Most lawyers, or more commonly known as barristers and solicitors in Ontario, are also notaries.


On the other hand, a commissioner of oaths (or sometimes referred to as commissioners for taking affidavits) is a person who is accredited to authenticate affidavits, affirmations, and declarations. He/She does this by asking the signee or the signatory to swear or attest that what was written in the legal document is true. A commissioner of oaths also has a stamp that is used along with their signature but no seal. Every lawyer in Ontario is also automatically a commissioner of oaths.


A commissioner of oaths, other than a lawyer, cannot verify a true copy of a legal document. For that task you would need to go to a notary public. A commissioner of oaths has some other restrictions as well, such as their stamp or verification is valid only in the same province where they work or where they have been certified.


The person who is affirming or swearing to a document must be present before a notary public or commissioner of oaths and must have proper identification such as an authentic driver’s license, a current passport, or any other recent government-issued photo identification to confirm his/her identity. The signing of the document must be done in the presence of either a notary public or commissioner of oaths. Both the notary public and commissioner of oaths are not liable for what’s written in the legal document, they are only answerable for the signature of the person who is signing the document.


If you are looking for a notary public in Toronto, JCA LAW OFFICE provides both notarial services and commissioner of oaths. You may visit our office at 168B Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto, ON, just a few steps away from the Philippine Consulate office in Toronto. Nearest intersection is Eglinton Ave. East and Redpath Ave. Our office hours are from Mon-Fri 9 AM – 6 PM, Saturdays by appointment. We are closed on Sundays and Canadian Holidays. You may give us a call at (Phone): 1-855-522-5290, or text us at 647-367-1634. You may also send us an email at

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