Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions that have been asked of us before, and other questions which we can pre-emptively address.
Question: What is a Commissioner for Oaths?
Answer: A Commissioner for Oaths is a Court appointed person who witnesses the signing of important legal documents. A Commissioner for Oaths signature is not a ‘quick autograph’ that can be affixed to any page. The Commissioner is required to perform certain formal duties. Having a Commissioner for Oaths involved in a matter reduces fraud, and provides reassurance to whoever relies on a document in the future.
Question: When might a person need a Commissioner for Oaths? / Why do I need a Commissioner for Oaths?
Answer: Typically you will have received a form – from some agency – which requires your signature to be witnessed. This might be an Affidavit, Statutory Declaration or a Deed. A Commissioner for Oaths acts as an independent witness. Having a Commissioner for Oaths involved in a matter reduces fraud, and provides reassurance to whoever relies on a document in the future.
Where a document is an Affidavit or Statutory Declaration: The Commissioner for Oaths
1) confirms the ID of the person signing,
2) witnesses the person signing, and
3) asks the person to ‘declare’ or ‘swear’ that the contents are true and correct by reciting the formal wording.
The Commissioner for Oaths then
4) writes a statement on the document confirming that the named person did indeed sign the document on the stated date, at the stated location, and confirms the Commissioner’s ID with a signature, stamp and/or seal. The completed document can then continue its journey to whatever agency it is destined for. The receiving agency can rest assured that it was indeed signed or ‘executed’ correctly by the named person.
Where the task is to certify a document as being “a true copy of the original” the Commissioner for Oaths confirms the copy matches the original. In doing so Cork Commissioner for Oaths Mr David O’Sullivan relies on his 12+ years of experience with a variety of documents.
Question: Can you visit my home at 7pm on a weekday? (i.e. a housecall / house-call)
Answer: Yes, we understand that modern life is hectic, and you are probably tied up with a job or other duties during traditional office hours. Our service meets your needs perfectly. We travel everywhere in Cork City and suburbs, including to your home, or indeed anywhere else convenient for you such as a Cafe or other location where you might happen to be in the evening.
Question: How to make a booking?
Answer: Email Cork@CommissionerForOaths.ie, phone or text 087 900 4346. We will generally reply by the same mode of communication you choose. Although, given that most people like a same-day service then if your enquiry is later in the day we will sometimes prefer to phone you back as ping-pong emailing could take too much time. Feel free to specify your preferred mode of reply.
Question: What is your address? / Can we travel to your office?
We specialise in a convenient travelling service only, so we specifically do not advertise our address because we are generally out on calls and not there, but our address does appear on our rubber stamps and our receipt, after we meet you.
There are many benefits to using our convenient, customised service. We work in the evenings which means you do not need to take valuable time off work. Plus, we travel to you so you don’t need to travel, plus you don’t need to find a parking space, plus you don’t need to wait in a waiting room! Instead, you can go about your normal life, and we slot into your schedule, where you are.
Question: Can you perform an electronic Notarisation / Remote Commissioning / videoconference witnessing of the signing of an Affidavit?
The rules have recently changed (late March 2021) surrounding this, but the changes only apply to a small set of documents (Affidavits for certain levels of court and in certain circumstances), plus the logistics of operation have yet to be determined.
Do you have proof that you are a Commissioner for Oaths?
We always carry proof that we are a Commissioner for Oaths – You can inspect our credentials in the form of our Ireland Supreme Court Certificate of Appointment and Personal Passport.
We are established so long that we own the domain names “CommissionerForOaths.ie” along with the extra domains of “CommissionerOfOaths.ie”, “PeaceCommissioner.ie”, “Oaths.ie”, “JusticeOfThePeace.ie”, “Affidavit.ie” , “Deed.ie” (those all being terms that customers search for)
Our service has also been mentioned positively in the media.
Question: Will you travel beyond Cork City and suburbs?
Answer: Yes, while our main service area is Cork City and suburbs (see map), we can also travel further into County Cork. We would be happy to quote a fee based on the particular distance and time.
Question: Will you witness the signing of a change of name deed poll?
Answer: We do not sign documents related to the deed polls (change of name) process.
Question: Can a Commissioner for Oaths decline or refuse to sign a document?
Answer: A Commissioner for Oaths provides a service and charges a fee, so the bulk of work is accepted and appreciated, thank you. However, a Commissioner has to follow certain rules. There are occasions when a Commissioner for Oaths may decline a proposed task.
We specialise in a convenient travelling service. This means that the first time we see your document will be after we have travelled to you. By that stage, we will have incurred travel and time costs. So, at the booking stage, we will ask you some routine questions to establish the nature of your document, focusing on whether it is formatted correctly. This is to ensure that we can indeed sign it. If we cannot sign we would still be happy to suggest an alternative service provider. So, if in doubt please feel free to contact us regardless.
Examples of when do not sign documents are:
- 1) When we are asked to ‘witness’ the signature of a person who is not present. This would be known as signing ‘in absentia’ and is not allowed. We must see the signer actually write their signature on the page, because at the same time we confirm their ID.
- 2) Where the signer is not able to provide adequate photo ID for their particular type of document. Requirements vary, typically a passport is the gold standard.
- 3) Where the Commissioner believes that a person does not understand what they would be signing.
- 4) Where the Commissioner believes a person will refuse to sign on arrival.
- 5) Where the potential customer is hostile, or indicates they have an issue with paying. Sometimes a potential customer is unhappy because the document relates to some circumstance they don’t want to be involved with (e.g. Involuntary Court appearance, or other legal paperwork which they do not respect). This is understandable on a human level, however, it is important to realise that a Commissioner for Oaths is not connected with whatever agency requires your document to be signed. It is your document, not ours, and it performs some function for you. A Commissioner for Oaths does not receive any state funding, nor does a Commissioner for Oaths receive any payment from whatever agency, company, or individual may have asked you to complete a document. A Commissioner for Oaths is an independent witness who charges a fee directly to the person who wishes to use their service (i.e. you – the customer).
Question: I need a certified copy, but I don’t have a photocopier
Answer: Yes, we have a portable photocopier and scanner.
Question: Can you sign my documents in a neutral location such as a Library or Coffee Shop/Cafe?
Answer: Yes, we will travel to any location in Cork City and suburbs. We understand that some documents can be of a sensitive personal or financial nature and you may not wish your family or housemates to know of them. (e.g. Personal Insolvency or Separation/Divorce related matters).
Question: Is a Commissioner for Oaths paid by the Government, State, or any other official body?
Answer: No. A Commissioner for Oaths does not receive any state funding, nor does a Commissioner for Oaths receive any payment from whatever agency, company, or individual may have asked you to have your signature witnessed.
Instead, a Commissioner for Oaths is an independent witness who charges a fee directly to the person who wishes to use their service (i.e. you – the customer).
Question: Will you sign my documents for free?
Answer: No. We operate a convenient customised travelling service, focusing on evenings and weekends. There are costs to providing this service, and so we do charge a fee, just like any other service provider.
Question: I need a “Letter from a Commissioner for Oaths” saying [x y z]
Answer: This is a broad question. It is likely that you do not need a “Letter” per se, but rather some other document that we can stamp and sign as a Commissioner for Oaths. We can accommodate most requests because we have forms and stationery for many purposes. Please contact us to let us know a) what is the name of the agency that has asked for this “Letter”, and b) what information do they wish you to “prove”.
Question: Do you provide legal advice?
Answer: While we can help you with the completion of your forms to a limited extent by using our experience and knowledge to assist you, a Commissioner for Oaths does not provide legal – nor indeed – financial advice. The role of a Commissioner for Oaths is to be an independent witness. A Commissioner for Oaths is normally only concerned with the verification of your identity, your name, your address, your signature, and your ability in a general way to understand the document you are signing.
Question: What is the fee for signing a Naturalisation / Citizenship application?
Answer: At first glance, it may appear that you need only one Commissioner for Oaths signature, namely on the Statutory Declaration page within the large application form booklet. However, on further reading of the instructions is then seen that more signatures are required from a Commissioner for Oaths. A Commissioner also signs the following
- a) The rear of the 2 Passport Photographs
- b) A copy of your Birth Certificate in the foreign language
- c) A copy of the English translation of your Birth Certificate
- d) If you have changed your name then a copy of your Marriage certificate or enrolled deed poll
Overall, the number of documents to be signed by a Commissioner for Oaths in a Naturalisation/Citizenship application varies massively depending on the individual circumstances of the customer. There can be more than the above. We can provide a quotation if you let us know
- a) your country of current citizenship, and
- b) whether or not you are applying on the basis of marriage to an Irish Citizen
- c) if the name on your birth certificate matches the name on your current Passport
Question: A work colleague of happens to be a Commissioner for Oaths (or similar) can he/she sign my form?
Answer: No. A Commissioner for Oaths (or similar) must be an independent witness who does not have an interest in the document. Depending on the importance of your document having a work colleague witness your signature could be risky because your document could be challenged in the future, and potentially found to be invalid. It would be a false economy to try and save money today only to later realise that it is”not worth the paper it’s written” in the future.
Question: Can you ‘just’ sign my document?
Answer: A person who wants a document signed (referred to as “the appearer”) will often innocently say “I just need your signature on this document”- a statement that constitutes a wholly disproportionate description of what the Commissioner may eventually have to do. The response is designed, sometimes unintentionally, to minimise the importance of the Commissioner’s involvement and, by inference, the fee. A Commissioner for Oaths signature is not a quick autograph that can be affixed to any page.
Mr David O’Sullivan Cork Commissioner for Oaths operates a customised travelling service. The process of having a document signed includes: making the appointment; travelling to and from you, waiting time, identifying you, discussing matters with you, checking and dealing with documents you provide, amending documents and/or completing any blanks in documents that you provide, considering and dealing with any instructions that come with documents you provide, binding documents securely and sealing documents (if necessary), and so on.
Question: Do you charge VAT?
Answer: Commissioner for Oaths fees are not taxable. Accordingly, we have not registered for VAT. A note at the end of our receipts explains this, and this will be acceptable to your Accounts Dept.
Question: In relation to Photo ID; what is an ‘EU ID card’?
Answer: Since 2008, when a person is signing an Affidavit or Statutory Declaration their witness (the Commissioner for Oaths) has been required to see a valid Photo ID. A Passport is the most popular form, and is considered superior to a driving licence, most likely because at the time of writing low-quality paper licences were still being issued, whereas now the NDLS has switched to a plastic credit card sized licences with anti-counterfeit measures included. Another form of ID that is acceptable is an “EU ID card”. Ireland does not issue these but mainland EU countries do. Examples of EU ID card titles are: Dowód osobisty, Personalausweis, Carte d’identité, CNIS, Documento nacional de identidad (DNI), Identiteitskaart, Cartão de Cidadão, Lichna karta, Občanský průkaz, Občiansky preukaz, Isikutunnistus, henkilökortti, Carta d’Identità Elettronica, Identitätskarte, nationellt id-kort, Osobna iskaznica.
Question: Will you travel to Dublin?
Answer: No, we are based in Cork City and suburbs, and will also travel to County Cork.
We do not cover other counties.
Question: Can you witness the signature of a person who is not present?
(e.g. because they are on holidays, or are too elderly to travel)
Answer: No. For a signature to be witnessed the person making it must be physically present, and must sign in front of the Commissioner for Oaths. The practice of having a signature ‘witnessed’ without the signer being present is referred to as witnessing ‘in absentia’ and is not allowed by rules. The practical problems of this are that a document – relied upon in Court for example – may subsequently be challenged and found to be invalid. We provide a travelling service so we would be happy to travel to any person who needs a Commissioner for Oaths in Cork. Having a Commissioner for Oaths involved reduces fraud.
Question: Do you serve summons / are you a summons server?
Answer: No, we do not provide that service.
Question: I have an Affidavit or Statutory Declaration, can I have it signed by a Garda / Member of An Garda Siochana, instead of a Commissioner for Oaths?
Answer: No. In Ireland, a member of the police force cannot sign an Affidavit or Statutory Declaration for the public. In Ireland, that function is performed by a Commissioner for Oaths. It is true that in some other common law jurisdictions (such as some Australian states) a member of the police force can sign such documents, but – to reiterate – that is not the case in Ireland. Occasionally a well-meaning member of the Gardai may sign a document where they are not listed as an authorised witness. Such a document may then be inadvertently be accepted by some agency. When discovered it is usually then rejected, and the need to rectify it is urgent. This creates a hassle for the signer.
Question: Can a ‘Peace Commissioner’ sign an Affidavit?
Answer: Our business title is actually ‘Commissioner for Oaths’ which is different but this is a still question we are occasionally asked. This is understandable because there are lots of different titles in existence for people who can sign legal documents, and it can be confusing for people not familiar with the subtle differences. The answer to the question is: No. In Ireland, a Peace Commissioner cannot witness the signing of an Affidavit. The correct title for someone to witness the signing of an Affidavit is a Commissioner for Oaths.
For argument’s sake; If somehow, a Peace Commissioner did witness the signing of an Affidavit (e.g. perhaps because they did not read the document correctly, or perhaps because they did not know the rules) then such an Affidavit would likely be rejected by the recipient, or (if not noticed) it could still face a legal challenge in future years because it had not been executed in accordance with the law.
Question: What is the Irish for Commissioner for Oaths?
Answer: In the Irish language / Gaeilge the office is referred to as ‘Coimisinéir m mionnaí’ or ‘Coimisinéirí Mionn’. In Polish, the closest wording is ‘Komisarz ds. Przysięgi’.
Question: Will your Commissioner for Oaths signature be acceptable to CORU, HIQA, HSE etc.?
Answer: Yes. Wherever you see ‘Commissioner for Oaths’ listed as an acceptable signatory on a form in Ireland then our signature will be accepted and recognised. Forms can often be written incorrectly, so even if your form does not specifically mention ‘Commissioner for Oaths’ as an option we can still sign all Ireland Affidavits and Statutory Declarations.
Question: Are you a Notary Public?
Answer: No – but please keep reading – our title is ‘Commissioner for Oaths’ meaning we can sign all documents for use in the Republic of Ireland. In addition, we can sign many – but not all – documents that are being sent abroad. In contrast, a ‘Notary Public’ is a person who specialises in foreign documents only. The Faculty of Notaries Public in Ireland does not publish a list of fees, but it is generally understood that a Commissioner for Oaths tends to be cheaper per document, so many customers would rather use a Commissioner than a Notary. In an open marketplace, this is understandable. For more information see our page entitled Foreign Documents.
Question: What does ‘Notarized’ mean?
Answer: This is quite an American word, and also usually has the US English spelling (with the letter Z instead of an S). It means to have a document signed by an authorised witness (i.e. a person who is appointed by a state authority to witness the signing of legal documents). In the United States of America, such a person is called a ‘Notary Public’, but here in Ireland the equivalent level (arguably slightly higher) is a ‘Commissioner for Oaths’.
Question: Can you Notarise / Notarize my document?
Answer: Yes. Both of those words used to be mostly American terms and referred to having a document signed by a U.S. Notary Public in particular, but (like many words in Hiberno-English) they have come into common usage in Ireland and have come to mean “to have a document signed by a person with a legal type title”, in particular with the Form AFF1 from the Passport Office. So, yes, as a Commissioner for Oaths we can “Notarise” a document for use in Ireland.
Question: Can you witness the signing of a will?
Answer: In theory, yes, we can witness a signature on almost any document. However, in practice, we do not witness the signing of wills. This is because it is normal for a will to be drawn up by a Solicitor, who will also give advice as to its contents and merits. In that case, the Solicitor will normally arrange for a witness (in fact two witnesses) also as part of the overall process. So, in practice, we do not witness wills. However, we can certify that a will is a ‘true copy’ of the original.
Question: Will you witness the creation of a power of attorney document?
Re: Ireland power of attorney documents:
In theory yes, because this is a deed, so you need a) yourself b) a neutral witness (over 18, not related to you, of a different address etc.) c) the Commissioner for Oaths. However, we do not provide legal advice so this overall task is normally performed by a Solicitor.
Re: Foreign power of attorney documents:
Yes, sometimes. We can sign power of attorney documents for certain other countries. For example, we can sign documents for the Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands. Again, we do not provide legal advice.
Question: Can you certify documents for use in Dubai/USA/US/UAE/Bulgaria/Cyprus?
Answer: No. You should instead see an Irish Notary Public. Mr David O’Sullivan Cork Commissioner for Oaths can suggest the names of some local Notaries if you wish.