How to Administer an Oath or Affirmation

Administering an oath or affirmation is a fundamental responsibility of a notary public and is often required when a person needs to make a legally binding statement or affirmation. Here’s how you can properly administer an oath or affirmation:

1. Understand the Difference:

  • An oath is a solemn promise to tell the truth. The person taking the oath places their hand on a holy book (such as a Bible) or raises their right hand while repeating the oath.
  • An affirmation is a similar solemn promise, but it’s made without reference to a religious deity or holy book.

2. Identify the Person:

  • Make sure you properly identify the individual who needs to take the oath or affirmation. This typically involves verifying their identity using a valid government-issued photo ID.

3. Explain the Process:

  • Explain to the person the difference between an oath and an affirmation, and let them choose which one they are more comfortable with.

4. Ask the Person to Raise Their Right Hand (if applicable):

  • If the person is comfortable with it and chooses to take an oath, ask them to raise their right hand.

5. Administer the Oath or Affirmation:

  • Use clear and authoritative language to administer the oath or affirmation. For example: “Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) that the statement you are about to make is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
  • If the person is taking an oath, they can respond with “I do” or “I swear.”
  • If the person is making an affirmation, they can respond with “I do affirm.”

6. Witness the Person’s Response:

  • Observe the person’s response to ensure they are taking the oath or making the affirmation sincerely and voluntarily.

7. Document the Oath or Affirmation:

  • In your notary journal or the appropriate section of the document, record that the person took an oath or affirmation. Include details such as the date, the person’s name, the type of oath or affirmation, and the purpose of the oath or affirmation.

8. Notary Signature and Seal:

  • Sign the notary section of the document and apply your official notary seal as required by your jurisdiction.

9. Complete Notary Details:

  • In your journal or on the document, include your name, commission expiration date, and any other required information.

10. Be Professional and Respectful:

  • While administering the oath or affirmation, maintain a professional demeanor and treat the person with respect. This is a serious and important process.

11. Stay Informed:

  • Familiarize yourself with your jurisdiction’s laws and regulations regarding the administration of oaths and affirmations. The specific wording and procedures may vary.

Remember that the process of administering an oath or affirmation varies by jurisdiction, and it’s important to follow the rules and guidelines set by your local notary authority. Your role as a notary public is to ensure that the oath or affirmation is taken sincerely and accurately for legal and ethical purposes.