When you move to a new city and need to apply for utilities and find suitable accommodation, you may be asked to provide legal documents in support of your claims. Two common documents with legal force are affidavits and declarations. These documents are similar, but there are key differences in their features and usage.
- An affidavit is a written statement containing facts that a person uses as evidence in support of their claim, signed in the presence of a legal authority such as a public notary or oaths commissioner.
- A declaration is a statement signed by a person stating the claim made in the document is correct and true, and does not require swearing in, though it becomes statutory when signed by a legal authority such as an attorney.
- Affidavits are required for obtaining legal certificates like voter registration or driver’s licenses, while declarations are more common and used to support claims of identity, marital status, age, and other personal information.
A declaration is a statement you make to be true and contains facts and information that you believe to be correct. You sign at the end of the declaration, confirming the accuracy of the facts. A declaration does not need to be an oath, and there is no need for you to be sworn in by a legal authority. However, a statutory declaration under the penalty of perjury needs to be attested by an attorney or another legal officer and is much closer to an affidavit than a simple declaration. A declaration serves the purpose of evidence, as there is a provision of perjury that can be invoked if it is found that the person has presented false statements knowingly or intentionally.
An affidavit is a legal document that has legal force behind it and can be presented in a court of law as evidence. A person, when they have no other means to support their claim, needs to get an affidavit that is signed not just by them but also by a witness who is a legal officer like a public notary. An affidavit needs to be signed in the presence of a public notary to become a legal force. The person who signs an affidavit is called an affiant, and they swear by the facts presented in the affidavit.