Unsworn Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury
Federal law, 28 USC 1746, Unsworn Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury, allows an unsworn declaration to be used, rather than a sworn or affirmed affidavit made before a notary. The document must include the following statement above the signature:
“I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date).“
A Federal notary, state notary or notary stamp is not required. The unsworn declaration may be made inside or outside of the United States, with different wording used for each case. This simplifies the paperwork process for submitting many forms to a Federal agency, by eliminating the need to use a notary. However, some forms, a deposition, an oath of office, or an oath before a specified official still need a notary.
According to the House Report, the primary goal of the legislation was to eliminate the inconvenience of finding a notary every time an affidavit needed to be signed, by permitting the use of unsworn declarations under penalty of perjury, in lieu of affidavits.
Federal Law, 28 USC 1746
The Federal law passed in 1976, to permit the use of unsworn declarations under penalty of perjury as evidence in Federal proceedings. It is under Title 28 – Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, Part V – Procedure, Chapter 115 – Evidence; Documentary. It states:
Wherever, under any law of the United States or under any rule, regulation, order, or requirement made pursuant to law, any matter is required or permitted to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by the sworn declaration, verification, certificate, statement, oath, or affidavit, in writing of the person making the same (other than a deposition, or an oath of office, or an oath required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary public), such matter may, with like force and effect, be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by the unsworn declaration, certificate, verification, or statement, in writing of such person which is subscribed by him, as true under penalty of perjury, and dated, in substantially the following form:
(1) If executed without the United States: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date).
(2) If executed within the United States, its territories, possessions, or commonwealths: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date).
An unsworn declaration may also be referred to as a certificate, certification, verification or statement, depending on the wording used. Some forms use the word attest, attested or attestation. But, if the document says affidavit, oath, sworn to, deposed, or affirmed, it must be notarized.
State Laws Allowing Unsworn Declaration
States that have passed laws allowing some form of unsworn declaration include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. (Note: see state laws for details, there may be more states.)
There may be restrictions limiting an unsworn declaration to certain situations, cases or locations inside or outside the state. Some of the state statutes are not as broad as the Federal law in allowing the use of an unsworn declaration in lieu of an affidavit. The Federal law does not authorize the use of unsworn declarations in state courts or agencies. Without a state law allowing an unsworn declaration, it is hearsay evidence in state court.
Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (UUFDA)
The Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (UUFDA) was promulgated in 2008 and has since been enacted in 20 states, including Colorado. The Act authorizes the use in litigation and certain agency filings of unsworn declarations made in a foreign country, outside the United States, under penalty of perjury.
Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act
In 2018, Colorado passed the Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act, CRS 13-27-101, to extend the use of an unsworn declaration made either inside or outside the United States. The act prescribes the required wording to be used.
CRS 13-27-106 – Form of unsworn declaration
An unsworn declaration under this article 27 must be in substantially the following form:
I declare under penalty of perjury under the law of Colorado that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed on the ________ day of ________, ________,
. (date) (month) (year)
at ___________________________ __________________
. (city or other location) (state or country)
Notarized Federal Forms
There are still many Federal forms that must be notarized. Some Federal forms that must be notarized include these instructions:
If your statement is notarized, you must provide the notary with adequate proof of your identity in the form of a driver’s license, passport, or other identification acceptable to the notary.
[Updated 2020-03-27] added Colorado Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act