Instead of an affidavit that you must sign in front of a notary, Texas law lets you sign unsworn declarations in which you swear you are telling the truth, acknowledging that lying under oath is a crime. Here, learn how to create unsworn declarations, find links to unsworn declaration forms, and learn in what situations you can and cannot use them.
What is an unsworn declaration?
An unsworn declaration is a written statement, signed under penalty of perjury, and without the use of a notary.
When may an unsworn declaration be used?
You may use an unsworn declaration in many cases in lieu of (in place of) a form that typically requires a notary. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 132.001, an unsworn declaration may replace the requirement of a notary in a:
- written sworn declaration,
- oath, or
- required by statute or required by a rule, order, or requirement adopted as provided by law.
However, a notary is still needed for:
- a lien required to be filed with a county clerk,
- an instrument concerning real or personal property required to be filed with a county clerk,
- an oath of office or an oath required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary public, and
- swearing under oath that you are waiving service of process in other case types (mostly family law matters such as divorces, emancipations, name changes, and custody suits) unless you are an inmate.
What must an unsworn declaration include?
An unsworn declaration must be:
- in writing,
- signed by the person making the declaration as true under penalty of perjury, and
- must be closely related to the form as set out in Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 132.001.
What does it mean to sign something under penalty of perjury?
Signing under penalty of perjury means that if you are found not telling the truth in the form, you could be criminally prosecuted for lying. See Texas Penal Code chapter 37.
How do I fill out and turn in an unsworn declaration?
The person preparing the unsworn declaration is called the “declarant.”
You (the declarant) can fill out an unsworn declaration using the forms attached to this article:
- Unsworn Declaration (guided form)
- Unsworn Declaration
- Unsworn Declaration (Inmate)
- Unsworn Declaration (Government Employee).
If you need help choosing the correct forms, use our Ask A Question tool to chat with a law student or lawyer online or use our Legal Help Directory tool to search for legal help in your area.
After your unsworn declaration is signed under penalty of perjury, and depending on the specific form you signed, you may need to turn it in to the court.
May I add an exhibit to my Unsworn Declaration?
Yes, you may add an exhibit to your unsworn declaration.
An exhibit is something that you write about in the unsworn declaration; state that you are attaching it as an exhibit; and add to the declaration as the last page.
Exhibits to an unsworn declaration can be another tool to show what you are saying is true. An exhibit might be a copy of a document (like a copy of a receipt or written letter you mention in your unsworn declaration) that supports the claim that your statement is true.
Does it cost anything to turn in an unsworn declaration?
There is usually no fee to file most forms that would include an unsworn declaration. Call the district clerk’s office in the county where the case is on file to confirm.
Should I talk with a lawyer to look over my unsworn declaration?
Yes! If possible, talk with a lawyer. You can hire a lawyer just to:
- give you advice and review your forms, or
- represent you at your hearing.
You may also be able to talk with a lawyer for free at a legal clinic.
If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:
This article explains the basics of civil lawsuits in Texas.
This article discusses general affidavits, the notary requirement, and instructions for use.
This article tells you what evidence is and provides information on the evidence rules that are followed in Texas courts.