It is a notarial act in which a Notary certifies having watched the signing of a document and administered an oath or affirmation.
Compelling a document signer to be truthful is the main purpose of the notarial act called a jurat. The Notary’s function in executing a jurat is to appeal to the signer’s conscience and to initiate a process that could result in a criminal conviction for perjury if the signer is found to be lying under oath.
In executing a jurat, the Notary must watch the person sign the document, then have the signer make either a solemn, oral promise of truthfulness to a Supreme Being (called an oath) or a promise on one’s own personal honor (called an affirmation). The oath and affirmation have the same legal effect.
Jurats are common with documents that may be used as evidence in court proceedings, such as depositions and affidavits.