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What’s the difference between a notary public and a commissioner of oaths?

What’s the difference between a notary public and a commissioner of oaths?

A commissioner of oaths (or a commissioner for oaths) is someone who is authorised by law to take oaths, affirmations, and declarations from people swearing to the truth of certain documents or for certifying true copies of documents for legal purposes. In New South Wales, this role is mainly performed by people who have been appointed as a justice of the peace. If you need to sign a document requiring a ‘prescribed witness’ or you need to certify your document, then you can use a justice of the peace, a lawyer/legal practitioner or a notary public.

However, if you have been told that your document must be signed in front of a commissioner of oaths, it is probably because your document is going to be used overseas and there are commissioners of oaths in the country where your document is going to be used. In most cases, the most appropriate person to use instead of a commissioner of oaths is a notary public since your document is going to be used overseas.

A notary public, like a commissioner of oaths, is authorised by law to take oaths, affirmations, and declarations from people swearing to the truth of certain documents or for certifying true copies of documents for legal purposes. The important distinction of a notary public from a justice of the peace or a commissioner of oaths is that a notary public is generally used when the documents are going to be used in a different country, while a justice of the peace or a commissioner of oaths would be used for documents being used in the same country.

If your document needs to be used overseas (even if you have asked to have it signed by a commission or oaths) then you will generally need to have your document notarised by a notary public. The fact that you are asking this question and you are now reading this page suggests that someone has asked you to use a commissioner of oaths or notary public to notarise your documents.

Other FAQs regarding our notary public services

If you have any other questions regarding our notary public services, please contact our office on 02 9687 8885 to speak with our notary public or visit our other frequently asked questions, also found below: