Everything You Need to Know About Oaths & Affirmations

A notary public oath and affirmation are an important part of the notarization process. In this blog post, we will discuss what they are, when they are necessary, and how to properly execute them. We will also provide a few tips on how to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

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What You Need to Know About An Oath or Affirmation

There are notarial acts called oaths and affirmations. An oath involves acknowledging God, and an affirmation does not mention a deity. As a notary public, the oaths and affirmations you administer should comply with the state and county laws.

In many states, oaths have been merged to simplify the notarial act. It has been revised to an official notary act called an oath. In an oath, you may use the word affirm instead of swearing, and also, you may omit using the word, God.

In many states, a notary must solemnly swear an oath or affirmation. By taking the oath or affirmation, they’re sworn to faithfully perform their duties and obey the state and county laws. This article will discuss everything about oaths and affirmations. Let’s get started!

What is the Difference Between an Oath and Affirmation?

A notary public may fail to have the signer choose their preference to solemnly swear or affirm how genuine the documents are. This is because notaries don’t know the signer’s personal honor. Does this person prefer swearing to God or prefer making a promise to oneself? Therefore, it’s important to understand how an oath differs from an affirmation.


An oath is a promise stating your belief in God, a supreme being, or higher power to prove your truthfulness. When a notary public is administering oaths, you will be required to say something like, “Do you swear under the penalty of perjury the contents of this document are true, so help me God?’’


An affirmation involves a person acknowledging their own conscience for their truth. It removes the aspect of religion that a person might oppose. In this case, the notary public will omit the words “so help me God.” Therefore the affirmation statement will instead be, “Do you swear under the penalty of perjury the contents of this document are true?”

Despite the differences, the affirmation and oath are legally equivalent since they both reference a form of documents, statements, and the verification of the truthfulness of a person.

A false oath or affirmation is an example of perjury and is considered a felony crime. It’s punishable by law where you will face penalties such as fines or a prison sentence.

The Affirmation and Oath Notarial Act

The notary public must have the knowledge to follow specific procedures. For one, the affiant, or person who requested the oath or affirmation, must be physically present. They cannot appear remotely. The notary public should ensure there is proof of identity before beginning the process. The affiant must raise their right hand. When the notary public is administering the oath, they should place their right hand on the chest. Then the notary public will administer the oath.

Taking an oath or affirmation

Depending on the state or county, there might be specific notary public oath language that’s used. A notary public has the freedom of posing the oath or affirmation as statements or questions to the applicants. For witness testimony, it can be as follows: “Do you swear the evidence you will give will be the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” No matter the statement, the oath-taker must swear or affirm truthfulness in their individual capacity.

When you’ve sworn an affirmation or an oath in court, ensure your notary number plus the expiration date are available in case the judge requests it. It’s important to confirm the person’s identification by name. Also, use the correct terms and vocabulary in court, such as “affidavit” and “affiant.”

The oath-taker must speak loud enough when they solemnly swear or affirm. A nod of the head is not acceptable. Moreover, it would be best to record any notary public oath administered. It’s part of the notarial act and notary’s commission. Some states have different regulations and rules regarding administering an oath or affirmation. Thus, it’s essential to adhere to these laws.

Elderly man signing POA in hospital bed

Tips to follow when carrying out a notarial act:

1. Ensure that documents, like an affidavit, and the contents are confidential.

2. Ensure the notarial certificate and notary’s commission are accurate.

3. Have all the people that need to sign the documents write their signature.

4. Write and record the date, plus any necessary filing in your journal.

5. Ensure all the people that sign and date the document also write in your notary journal with the same signature.

6. Make sure you meet all the signers physically. If all of them cannot be present at your office, your notarization should only show those who were present. Those who were absent will have to get a separate notarization.

7. Make sure the document date is not later than the notarization date.

8. Make sure everyone who signs understands the document’s intention and statement. You can read the document contents to the signer for them to understand if needed.

9. Notaries must examine the document. However, you shouldn’t be grilled on their knowledge of the document’s contents. Your job is to ensure there are no blanks or changes. If blanks are found cross them out and have the oath-taker initial against the cross.

10. During identification, always use identification issued by the government, such as a passport or driver’s license.

Showing ID

What does it take to obtain a notarial certificate for oaths and affirmations?

The information online can be overwhelming and misleading on how to be a notary. It’s easy getting a notary commission if you adhere to all requirements.

Requirements needed

Each state and county has its requirements for becoming a notary public. However, many states will accept one bonding agent to furnish your application, seal, and bond. Thus, the process is simple. The general requirements for notaries in many states include:

  • Take a notary public oath to be sworn into office
  • Obtain a surety bond
  • Complete the proper notary education required in your county
  • You should be eligible to hold public office/be a sworn public officer under state law
Man handing paper


To be a notary public, you must be at least 18 years old. Also, you must be a legal resident of the state and county where you want to be a notary. Other states allow you to be a notary even if you don’t reside there, provided you work in that state. However, some states need additional documentation if you’re a legal resident of the U.S. but a non-U.S. Citizen.

Make sure you visit the notary commissioning to determine your eligibility. You must also maintain your residency in the state for the commission period.

Notary Education Requirements

The majority of the states require notary education. For those states that don’t require a notary education, however, it’s highly encouraged. Notarizing doesn’t involve a signature alone. It also means you will be responsible for negligent acts.

In some states, there are free online courses and an exam requirement. Also, the association of notaries in America offers notary education. Moreover, it’s essential to visit the state commissioning authority to get accurate information.


Oaths and affirmations are the same things. The difference is an oath, mentions God, while an affirmation, doesn’t mention God. Moreover, the process of administering oaths or affirmations is easy.

However, you must ensure you practice integrity and observe the state and county laws on oaths and affirmations. You have to be honest and remain impartial in all notarizations. It’s the only way you will be successful in this field.



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