By Samantha Lang,
Legal Intern

If you are attending your British Citizenship ceremony, you will be asked to take either an oath or an affirmation of your allegiance to the Queen and the United Kingdom.

Similarly, if you are called as a witness to give evidence in a criminal proceeding, you will be asked to take an oath or affirmation that you will tell the truth to the court.

Difference between an Oath and Affirmation

An oath is a solemn promise to tell the truth that is sworn to God and is a religious pledge, sometimes made on the Bible or Holy Book of the person making the oath. If you wish to swear on your Holy Book, you must bring it with you.

An affirmation, which has existed in English law since the Quakers Act 1965, is a solemn and formal declaration that the statement to be made is true. The affirmation includes no reference to God. It is a secular pledge that can be made by:

  • someone who does not believe in God, 
  • someone without a strong religious commitment, or 
  • someone who has conscientious objections against swearing to God. 

An affirmation and an oath are of equal value and have the same legal effect. The two versions exist to fit religious and secular individuals, and it is up to you which one you choose.

Examples of an Oath and an Affirmation

Below are examples of allegiance oaths and affirmations and witness oaths and affirmations. 

Allegiance Oath – Christian 

“I, [name], swear by almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to the law.”

Allegiance Affirmation 

“I, [name], do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law.” 

Witness Oath – Christian 

“I swear by almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

Witness Affirmation

“I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”