What is a “Commissioner for Oaths”, anyway?

People often come to us at Patriot Law Group asking that we “commission” documents for them. This usually means they need someone to administer an oath to properly execute the document (although sometimes they really need the services of a Notary Public). Certain documents require more than just a signature to verify that the contents of the document are true. The person who is signing the document must somehow indicate that what they have signed is true and accurate. For example, an affidavit to be filed in court must be given under oath or by affirmation.  A declaration of common law status to Canada Revenue Agency is made as a solemn declaration. A Commissioner for Oaths is a person who is authorized to administer oaths, affirmations, and solemn declarations.

In Alberta, the appointment of Commissioners for Oaths is governed by the provincial Commissioners for Oaths Act.

Members of certain professions are empowered to be Commissioners for Oaths by virtue of their status as a professional. Members of the Law Society of Alberta (lawyers, students-at-law) judges, police officers, Notaries, commissioned officers of the Canadian Armed Forces (who serve full-time), municipal councilors, school board trustees, provincial MLAs, Members of Parliament from Alberta and members of the Senate who live in Alberta are all empowered as Commissioners for Oaths in Alberta and can administer oaths. Their “commission” remains in effect as long as they remain an active member of their profession or in their positions.

People outside of these occupations can be appointed a Commissioner of Oaths by the government but their commissions expire after three years unless they are renewed.  Many support staff members at law offices, insurance brokers and municipal offices have this type of Commissioner.

It is important to remember that a Commissioner for Oaths in Alberta can only administer oaths for documents to be used within Alberta. If a document is going to be used outside of Alberta or sworn by a person who resides outside of Alberta, the person signing will generally need the services of a Notary Public.

It is also important to understand that a Commissioner for Oaths is only empowered to administer an oath, affirmation or solemn declaration. You need a Notary Public to get notarized copies of documents and you still need a lawyer for legal advice.

Acting as Commissioners for Oaths is just one small part of what we do at Patriot Law Group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *