When transacting with government offices, we often come across the requirement of notarization, such as affidavits, special powers of attorney, and other similar documents. When we make big purchases, like properties, we are often required by sellers to have the contract notarized.

But contrary to popular belief, notarization is not just some requirement. It’s not an empty, meaningless routinary act, but is actually an act that is invested with substantive public interest. In other words, it’s not something we should take lightly. So, what’s in a notarization? What does it do exactly?

Once notarized, your private document becomes a public one. Since it’s now a public document, our law presumes that your document is authentic and that there were no irregularities present during its execution, unless evidence is presented to prove the opposite. Notarization is proof that the person personally appeared to a notary public and represented that he or she voluntarily signed the document for the purposes provided therein. In essence, once someone signs a contract that is subsequently notarized, they cannot just simply say that their signature is forged or that they didn’t agree to some of those terms.

To overcome this presumption, the person challenging any notarized document must present clear and convincing evidence in court. To put it simply, the act of notarizing your legal document is an added guarantee that the parties to a contract will strictly abide by its terms.

A person making false statements under oath commits the crime of perjury. Aside from converting your document into a public one, statements made by you in notarized affidavits are considered made under oath. This means that if found false, you can be liable for the felony of perjury under Article 183 of our Revised Penal Code. The penalty for perjury was recently increased and is now punishable by imprisonment of prison mayor, or six years and one day to eight years, to its medium period of eight years and one day to 10 years and a fine of at least One Million Pesos (Php 1,000,000.00).

With this in mind, maybe you should think it over before you sign a document and have it notarized.