What’s the Difference Between Commissioning and Notarizing?

Written By: Danielle Terveld

You may be wondering to yourself what does it mean to have a document commissioned and what does it mean to have a document notarized and what’s the difference?

Having a document commissioned or notarized, is to add greater assurance that the contents of the document are true and genuine. The difference between having a document either commissioned or notarized, is completely up to the document itself. Different documents require different assistance and formality.


In order to have a document commissioned, you must meet with a Commissioner of Oaths. Before doing so, make sure to have at least one government issued piece of I.D. with you, as it is the responsibility of the Commissioner to affirm your identity, in reference to the documents being presented in front of them. Meeting with a Commissioner of Oaths can be done, either in person or virtually through a webcam video and audio call. This has recently been accepted due to COVID19. Prior to this, you had to meet with the Commissioner in person.

Essentially, what is going on here is the Commissioner will administer an Oath that the Statement or Affirmation the client is signing is the truth. Examples of these documents are affidavits or statutory declarations. Affidavits such as, court case documentation (i.e. evidence), transferring ownership of vehicle, gifting a vehicle to family member, applying for a municipal licence, etc. A Commissioner will then use a stamp in order to authorize that they have commissioned the document before them, however, it is not required, as a signature from the Commissioner is sufficient.


A Notary Public can do everything a commissioner can do, such as, swearing on affidavits and statutory declarations, verifying that the contents in the document are true. However, a Notary Public, is required to determine whether or not the physical copy or photocopies of the document itself that the client is bringing before them, are in fact, true or genuine. Examples of these types of documents are: I.D.’s, birth certificate, passports, land transfer signatures, professional exam applications, consent letters for children travelling abroad, banking documents etc. that being, the actual document or the photocopied version.

Unlike having your documents commissioned, having a document notarized must take place in person and cannot be done virtually. It is the duty of the Notary Public to look to make sure signatures and copies of the document, are from the real article. If the item is a photocopy of the true document, it is required that the Notary Public see the genuine document as well. The Notary Public will then notarize the photocopy by applying their stamp, as well as, their personal seal onto the document in order to have it officially authorized. This means that the Notary Public believes the documents that are brought before him are in fact the real true copies.

Fun Fact: Every Lawyer and Paralegal in Ontario is automatically a Commissioner of Oaths by virtue of their profession.


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