Think you need a law degree to figure out the difference between a statutory declaration and an affidavit? Not at all. We dig in to explain it for you.
BTW, What’s the Difference?
How they’re used for one. Affidavits are used in court. Think of them as written testimony. Instead of giving your testimony orally on the witness stand, you make it in writing. Statutory declarations are sworn oaths like affidavits, but they are used to give facts. For instance, that you are the rightful owner of a vehicle or other property.
But They’re Both Sworn Oaths
You’re right about that. You are liable for knowingly making false statements in a statutory declaration or an affidavit. Both require you to swear or affirm (which just means state) the facts as you believe them to the best of your ability. An Ontario notary public can witness either, in person or remotely by video conference, and attest to or certify legal documents. You can use anyone authorized by law to take oaths, including a commissioner of oaths, justice of the peace, lawyer, attorney or solicitor, for a statutory declaration.
I Still Don’t Get It
That’s because a statutory declaration and affidavit are pretty similar. They both have the same legal effect. Let’s start from the top.
What is a Statutory Declaration?
When you make a statutory declaration, you give a written statement about evidence you have knowledge of, your own or someone’s else’s transactions or progress on a construction project. Your statement could be about the status of a project you are working on or something you know that contradicts others’ statements. Declarations often refer to government statutes or policies. You might be asked to answer questions and attach photocopies or certified true copies of documents as proof. Your declaration must be truthful and accurate or it may be invalid.
4 Times You Need a Statutory Declaration
- You like shiny new objects. When you spotted that 2021 Toyota Corolla on the new car sales lot the other day, it got you to thinking. Maybe you should get a new car. Your daughter’s starting high school. You could just gift her your 2011 Chevy Cruze. Good plan. You’ll need a Sworn Statement for a Family Gift of a Used Vehicle in the Province of Ontario form, witnessed by an Ontario notary public or commissioner of oaths.
- You are travelling abroad when your passport is stolen. You head to the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate to replace it. They ask for a guarantor to sign your application. You don’t have any relatives or friends overseas and are travelling alone. Fortunate you. The Canadian government had just that in mind when they created the Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor form.
- You’re a new sub trade drywalling a high rise condo project in Mississauga. Getting paid by the general contractor requires you to submit a Statutory Declaration of Progress Payment Distribution. You take the form to the Mississauga Heartland Axess Law office to get a commissioner for oaths or notary public to witness your sworn statement, verifying you paid all your suppliers in full.
- You want to apply for permanent residency in Canada but you are stateless and don’t have legal documents from your own country to prove your identity. You go to the agency that helped you resettle as a refugee. They suggest making a statutory declaration of identity. You draft up a sworn declaration and the agency staff vouches for you by submitting their own.
When You Need an Affidavit Instead
Instead of just submitting a statutory declaration, you are going to court. You have evidence to give in a civil lawsuit or criminal case. Your lawyer may submit a signed, witnessed affidavit to the court. If you’re acting on your own behalf, you’ll need to make your own affidavits and have them witnessed, signed and sealed by an Ontario notary public.
Can You Give Me Some Other Examples?
Sure. You may need an affidavit if you are asked to:
- verify someone else’s identity
- swear a document is authentic
- confirm an authorization is valid
- for immigration or professional licensing applications
- or to use documents elsewhere in Canada or a foreign country.
How to Make an Affidavit
Affidavits are written statements of fact sworn to and signed by an “affiant” (that’s you, the one making the affidavit) before a notary public. Their signature verifies they checked your ID (two government issued pieces) and witnessed you sign the affidavit in person or via online video call. You swear the facts in the affidavit are true, to the best of your ability. Your affidavit typically includes chronological information about events you have personal knowledge of and evidence, called exhibits, you swear is accurate.
Do I Have to Swear on the Bible?
Not at all. You can swear the affidavit on a religious text — Bible, Quran or any other approved holy book in Ontario — or affirm it is true. FYI, the notary public or commissioner of oaths only confirms your identity and that they witnessed you sign the affidavit or statutory declaration. Telling the truth and only the truth is up to you.
Get Legal Documents Signed and Sealed
Axess Law Ontario notary publics can witness, sign and seal affidavits or use our commissioner of oaths service to make a statutory declaration. Dial 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form for a remote video call appointment. We’re available 7 days a week, day or evening, at times that fit your schedule. In-person meetings can be arranged in Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s commissioner of oath and notary services.
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