Statutory Declarations in Singapore12.02.2024
In Singapore, the Oaths and Declarations Act allows a person to declare that something is true by making a statutory declaration. Any person can make a statutory declaration as long as it is made voluntarily and, in the manner prescribed by the Act.
It is not the same as an affidavit. An affidavit is a sworn statement of fact.
A statutory declaration is a statement declaring something is true for the purpose of satisfying a specific legal requirement or regulation.
It is often used to prove facts in procedures before statutory bodies or government institutions in the absence of any other evidence. It is used when interacting with statutory bodies, government institutions, or in court proceedings, and must be in the prescribed form.
This article will examine:
- When you use a statutory declaration;
- How to make a statutory declaration;
- The legal requirements for a valid declaration, and;
- The consequences of making a false statutory declaration.
When will you use a statutory declaration?
Section 10 of the Act mentions that a person may be authorised or required by a specific law to make a statutory declaration.
People may also use statutory declarations for personal, business, or other legal matters where the person (declarant) must prove a particular fact.
- Suppose important documents like certificates or identification are lost or destroyed. In that case, a statutory declaration may be used to confirm the loss and provide details about the circumstances. For example, if a person loses their passport, they can make a statutory declaration to report it to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority. An accused who lost their passport can also use this declaration in a bail application.
- Changing or declaring your marital status.
- Declaring reasons for changing your name – if someone legally changes their name, they may use a statutory declaration to affirm this fact. Such a declaration is required to update official documents such as passports, identification cards, and other records.
- When updating personal details, such as a change of address, a statutory declaration can be used to confirm the new residential address, which may be required for various official purposes.
- In some situations where traditional forms of identification are unavailable or not accepted, a statutory declaration can confirm one’s identity.
- Individuals may use a statutory declaration to confirm their employment status, job title, or salary when required for specific transactions or applications. For example, applying for HDB loans when declaring an unemployed status.
- Filing a trademark or declaring evidence to support revoking a patent.
- Declaring (affirming) the content of a document to be true.
- During COVID-19, when applying for rental relief.
- A witness attesting to the execution of a will, deed, or document may verify and prove the signing, sealing, publication, or delivery of the will, deed, or document by a statutory declaration.
- Providing answers during judgment debtor proceedings when completing the questionnaire.
These are just some examples of where you may use a statutory declaration. It is always best to check with the specific institution you are dealing with or consult a lawyer to know if you can use a statutory declaration as evidence.
The legal requirements for a valid statutory declaration
Section 9 of the Act outlines the legal requirements for a valid statutory declaration.
- The declarant must act voluntarily.
- It must comply with section 11 of the Act, which states:
The declaration must be in the form set out in the First Schedule to the Act.
It must be made before a court, a person acting judicially, a prescribed person, or someone on whom a specific law conferred the power to take down a statutory declaration. In Singapore, statutory declarations are usually made before a Commissioner of Oaths.
Statutory declarations made outside of Singapore
Section 12 deals with the legal requirements for declarations made outside of Singapore.
- A statutory declaration made in the United Kingdom or any part of the Commonwealth, other than Singapore, must be made before a notary public or justice of the peace of that country or other person having authority under any law in that country to take or receive a declaration.
- A statutory declaration made in any place that is not part of the Commonwealth must be made before a consul or vice-consul or before any person having authority under any law for the time being in force in that place to take or receive a declaration.
Steps to making a valid statutory declaration
(1) Prepare the content
You must understand what you declare and ensure the information is accurate and truthful. Make sure to include all the necessary details.
(2) Obtain a statutory declaration form
The First Schedule to the Act sets out the format and content of a statutory declaration. You can download the form for free or obtain a copy from the courts, the relevant ministry, or the organisation for which the declaration is intended.
Commissioners of Oath also have copies.
(3) Complete the form
Confirm the required information and complete the form according to the specific requirements.
- Include the date on which the declaration is made.
- Set out the details of the matter.
- Add the name, address, and occupation of the person making the declaration.
The declarant must complete the form before affirming it in front of a Commissioner of Oaths but must only sign the declaration in the presence of the Commissioner of Oaths.
(4) Visit a Commissioner for Oaths
You can find a Commissioner for Oaths at law firms, State Courts, The Supreme Court, ministries, or statutory institutions. Some Commissioners will take walk-ins, but it is advisable to make an appointment. JCP Law can help you with this.
The Commissioner for Oaths needs to verify your identity before administering the oath. Take valid identification documents, such as your NRIC (National Registration Identity Card) or passport.
(5) Make the declaration and affirm/swear in the presence of the Commissioner of Oaths
The Commissioner may ask you to read the declaration out loud and swear on the Bible or affirm it in their presence. Swearing or affirming depends on your religious beliefs; affirming has the same legal standing as an oath.
You must sign the declaration in the Commissioner’s presence. The Commissioner will then endorse the statutory declaration with their signature, seal, and other required information.
They may also include a statement verifying the declaration was made before them.
You cannot make any amendments to the declaration after swearing or affirmation. Any modifications must be made in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths.
Consequences for making a false declaration
Section 14 of the Act stipulates that any person who makes a false statement in a statutory declaration, knowing it is false or has reason to believe it is false and the information is material to the reason for making the statement, is guilty of an offence.
The punishment can be imprisonment for up to three years and a fine.
If the person made, used, or attempted to use the false statement at any stage of judicial proceedings, the person shall be punished with imprisonment up to seven years and be liable to a fine.
Can a statutory declaration be taken, sworn to, or affirmed remotely?
Parliament passed the Oaths, Declarations and Notarisations (Remote Methods) Bill in August 2023 to allow an electronic approach to taking oaths in certain circumstances. The Bill seeks to set a framework for making statutory declarations electronically whilst maintaining the integrity of the process.
When Part 1 commences, the Act will allow statutory declarations, oaths, and affirmations to be:
- Taken remotely via live video or television links or other means of electronic communication.
- Signed electronically using a prescribed electronic signature.
Parties can still use existing “paper and in-person” methods. When commenced, the amendments will only provide a digital alternative. The government will issue guidelines on the type of electronic signature and other procedural requirements when the Act comes into operation.
The specific content requirements for a statutory declaration vary depending on the purpose of the statutory declaration. Always verify the specific requirements relevant to your situation.
If you are uncertain, please get in touch to consult us so we can guide you on the specific content and ensure that your declaration complies with all the legal requirements.