Distinctions between a Notary Public and a Commissioner For Oaths

You likely possess a will, a share transfer form, an affidavit, or some other document that has hit a roadblock in its progression because it requires notarization or commissioning. However, you might be uncertain about where to initiate this process because you’re unsure of whom to seek assistance from. For instance, consider Mr. Majid, who has been granted an international power of attorney but faced document rejection. Why did this happen? It could be that he failed to adhere to the proper procedures by not having it notarized by a notary public.

Often, people get confused when it comes to determining whether a document should be executed by a notary public or a Commissioner for Oaths. Let us take a look at some of the major differences between the two:


Notary Public: Notaries fulfill the role of officers within the court system and possess more extensive authority compared to Commissioners for Oaths. Their responsibilities encompass the authentication of documents, verification of signatures, and the administration of oaths or affirmations.

Commissioner for Oaths: In contrast, Commissioners for Oaths primary duty is to administer oaths and affirmations, but they do not wield the broader range of powers conferred upon notaries.

Scope of Duties

Notary Public: Notaries possess the authority to notarize a diverse array of documents, which encompasses affidavits, contracts, deeds, and international documents. Additionally, they offer authentication and verification services for documents intended for international use (in short, they cover a wide.

Commissioner for Oaths: Commissioners primarily focus on administering oaths, recording affidavits, and certifying documents for domestic use within Kenya (this is geographically limited). Their range of responsibilities is narrower when contrasted with that of notaries.

International Recognition:

Notary Public: The notarial actions conducted by a Kenyan Notary Public are frequently acknowledged on a global scale, particularly in the context of documents intended for overseas utilization, such as in immigration (e.g.) Various supporting documents such as letters of invitation, sponsorships, financial statements, or employment verification letters), or business affairs.

Commissioner for Oaths: Typically, the jurisdiction of a Commissioner for Oaths is restricted to documents designed for domestic use within Kenya such as affidavits and statutory declarations, and may not be readily recognized for international transactions.


Notary Public: Notaries offer a comprehensive range of services, and as a result, they often impose relatively higher fees for their expertise. Their fees are commensurate with the broad spectrum of responsibilities they undertake.

Commissioner for Oaths: Due to the narrower focus of their role, Commissioners for Oaths generally offer their services at a more affordable rate compared to Notaries, making them a cost-effective choice for individuals seeking authentication services within their local or domestic context.

In summary, the documents suitable for notarization include those intended for international purposes. Conversely, documents typically commissioned are those intended for local use and may include local affidavits, statutory declarations, affirmations, certified copies, and the witnessing of signatures.