Oath or Affirmation

What is the difference? We are always asked this question, so let me help to shed some light on the subject. An oath is a verbal promise to tell the truth while holding the Bible. This is normally seen when a witness is called to give evidence in a criminal proceeding, the first thing he or she is required to do is to take an oath or affirmation. This person is merely stating that they will tell the truth to the court. They will raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth and only the truth.

On the other hand, an affirmation is a verbal, solemn and formal declaration, which is made in place of an oath. Individuals can choose to make an affirmation rather than an oath. An affirmation has the same effect as an oath but doe not use a religious text.

Example: Oath: I swear to God that the evidence I am about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Affirmation: I solemnly declare and affirm that the evidence I am about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Notarizing For Minors: Special Considerations

Notaries should understand any special considerations their states allow when notarizing for minors.

Updated 9-14-20. It’s important to know what’s required before notarizing for a minor, including whether your state allows it at all. Consulting your state’s Notary law handbook or calling the NNA Hotline for answers beforehand is recommended.

What if the minor has no valid form of identification, which is often the case? In addition, how do you evaluate a minor’s competence to sign the document?

While it’s rare that you will be asked to notarize a minor’s signature, it does happen. Regardless of the circumstances, understanding how to proceed starts with determining if your state’s Notary laws or guidelines allow you to notarize a minor’s signature.

Can You Notarize A Minor’s Signature?

It depends on where you’re commissioned. Guam prohibits notarizing a minor’s signature. Other jurisdictions, such as Nebraska, require a minor to have identification but permit Notaries to refuse the notarization if the Notary has a reasonable belief a minor signer does not understand what they are signing.

In jurisdictions that allow you to notarize for minors, make sure you check for any limitations, restrictions or recommended procedures.

Illinois, for example, requires that the minor have identification and a parent or guardian be present for the notarization. In fact, this is a good general rule for most signing situations involving minors.

Indiana’s stateNotary Public Guide recommends Notaries to advise minors to obtain legal advice before proceeding with the notarial act.

Oregon’s guidelines say minors must be competent in order to sign a document, that the Notary should ask the minor questions such as, “Do you want to sign this document?” and have minors put their age next to their signature so the receiving parties realize they are dealing with a minor. Notaries also should note the minor’s age in their Notary journal.

These recommendations, which often are found in Notary handbooks or posted on your commissioning official’s website, are designed to protect you, the signers and any other party relying on the document.

In states that do not provide specific guidelines for notarizing for minors, such as CaliforniaFloridaor Texas, you would follow all the normal state rules for performing the type of notarization requested. The minor would need to present proof of identity following the same identification requirements as an adult signer. 

How Do You Identify A Minor?

In some cases, identifying a minor can be as easy as looking at a current passport, or, if they are 16 or over, a valid driver’s license. However, many minors will not have an ID.

You may be able to use one or two credible identifying witnesses in lieu of an ID, provided your state allows you to use them. 

Must You Determine A Minor’s Awareness And Willingness?

Identifying the minor is not the only issue. Many jurisdictions also require a Notary to determine that a signer — adult or minor — understands or consents to what they are signing, or allow the Notary to refuse the notarization if they do not. If you are in one of these jurisdictions, here are a few questions you might ask the minor signer:

  • What kind of document are you signing?
  • What will the document do?
  • Do you want to sign the document?

If you have any questions or are unsure how to handle a minor’s request, you can always contact the NNA Hotline.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

Identification Required

Proper identification must be presented when requesting any notary service requiring signature verification. The identification must be current and valid, issued by the federal or state government, and bears the photographic image of the individuals face. The following identifications are acceptable:

State Issued Drivers License

State issued Identification Card

U.S. Passport

U.S. military ID card

State, County and local government ID cards

Veteran’s health identification card

Inmate identification card (if in custody)

Alien registration card (green card)

If it is impossible for you to provide any of the above mentioned Identification, please call us to discuss other options. 

G’s Mobile Notary does not employ attorneys. We cannot offer any legal advice. Please contact a licensed attorney for all legal matters. 

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