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Arkansas Frequently Asked Questions

Are notary fees taxable as income?

Yes. A good way to keep up with your notary fees is to record the amount charged for each notarization in your record book. You will want to consult your tax adviser for specific information about reporting notary fees as income. Be sure to review the section on record keeping and order your record book from Notary Public Underwriters.

 

May I charge a fee for my notary services? 

Yes. Arkansas allows you to charge a maximum fee of five dollars per notarization. A notary who violates the law related to charging fees is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $100 for every offense.

 

Where may I notarize? 

You may perform official acts anywhere within the state of Arkansas. However, you have no authority to act outside the state.

 

How long is the term of office for an AR notary? 

10 years.

 

What are the qualifications to become a AR notary? 

--You must be a citizen of the United States, or a permanent resident alien. If you are a resident alien, you must file a recorded Declaration of Domicile with your application.
--You must be at least 18 years old.
--You must be able to read and write English.
--You have not had a notary commission revoked during the past 10 years.
--You are a legal resident of the State of Arkansas, or a legal resident of an adjoining state, who is employed in Arkansas (Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma).
--You must have a business or residence address in the State of Arkansas. If you are a non-resident, you must provide your business and residence address in the adjoining state.

For more information about the qualifications, the application process or the costs, please review the Become a Notary page.

 

Are notaries licensed like other professionals? 

No. Notaries are public officers and are appointed and commissioned by the Governor with the assistance of the Secretary of State.

 

What is the purpose of a notary public? 

A notary public is a person of integrity who is appointed to act as an impartial witness to the signing of an important transaction and to perform a notarial act, which validates the transaction. A notary’s primary purpose is to prevent fraud and forgery by requiring the personal presence of the signer and satisfactorily identifying the signer.

 

How do i take the test?

You will need to visit bcs.sos.arkansas.gov/ to register online and take the test. You may use the Arkansas Notary Public Handbook as a study guide. Once you have passed the test, you will be directed to complete the state's notary public application process where you will need your notary bond to complete this portion.

 

How do I take the Oath of Office? 

Within 30 days after your commission is issued, you must go to the Clerk’s Office in the county where you live to take your oath and file your bond. There is an $8 filing fee. (NOTE: Effective 1/1/2006, the oath will contain the following statement, “I have carefully read the notary laws of this state…”)

 

Can a non-resident be a notary in Arkansas? 

Yes. The law allows non-residents of ADJOINING states to obtain an Arkansas notary commission if they work in Arkansas. (Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.)

 

May I be an AR notary if I have a criminal record? 

Yes. The state does not have a limitation regarding a criminal record.

 

How long before my expiration date should I renew? 

The Secretary of State will accept applications for renewal approximately 30 days before your expiration date. Renewing early does not shorten your current term. Be sure to allow plenty of time to complete all the forms and mail them to Notary Public Underwriters prior to expiration. This will ensure you do not have a break between commissions. Please see the Renew Your Commission page for more information.

 

Is there an age requirement to become a notary? 

Yes. You must be at least 18 years of age. For information on additional requirements to become an Arkansas notary public, please click here.

 

May I use the Seal of the state on my stamp? 

No, notaries are prohibited from using the Seal of the State of Arkansas and an outline of the state.

 

If I use a rubber stamp, what color ink do I use? 

The law specifies that the notary stamp must be capable of photographic reproduction. Black is the best color to ensure legibility when photocopying. Notary Public Underwriters uses black ink on all inked notary stamps.

 

What type of notary seal is required? 

The law allows the use of either a rubber stamp or a metal embosser. Either seal must include you commission name (the same as your official signature), commission number (if issued after 1/1/2006), the name of the county where your bond is filed and the words “notary public” and “Arkansas.”. The stamp should make a legible impression, which can be photographically reproduced. When using an embosser, we advise you to use an impression inker or carbon paper, so it can be easily photocopied.

Notary Public Underwriters offers either seal in several styles, all of which comply with Arkansas law. If you frequently notarize out-of-state or international documents, you may wish to use the rubber notary stamp for its clarity and the embosser which is readily accepted as the notary standard around the world.

 

What amount of bond is required in Arkansas? 

The law requires a bond in the amount of $7,500. To learn more the required bond, please click here.

 

What is a notary bond? 

The notary bond is a type of surety bond issued by an approved surety company to protect the public against any wrongdoing on the part of the notary. The surety company guarantees to the public that you, as a notary public, will perform your duties in accordance with the law, and if you do not, the company will pay any damages caused by the incorrect notarization up to the amount of the bond.

 

Am I required to keep a record of my notarial acts?

Yes. Arkansas law requires notaries to keep a record book with exact chronological details of each notarial act performed. Notaries are also required to keep a fee book in which to enter all charges for notarial services. These two books do not have to be maintained separately and may be combined into one book. The law specifies the exact elements to be recorded. The notary public record book published by Notary Public Underwriters meets the requirements of the law. Be sure to include this item on your order form with your application. Contact us directly to order at (800) 821-0822 or purchase online through our Supplies section.

 

Do I have any liability as a notary? 

Yes. The public counts on notaries to perform their duties properly. By making an error on a notarization, you could cause someone to lose their property or be responsible for a multi-million dollar transaction being voided. As a result, a court could find you liable for the loss and enter a judgment against you. Most bond companies demand repayment if they pay a claim against you. In addition, whatever your bond does not pay, you would be liable for.

 

How do I limit my liability? 

Know and follow Arkansas’s notary laws, take responsibility for your own notary education, keep informed about law changes, never make an exception for anyone, use reasonable care and common sense in performing your duties, carry errors & omissions Insurance and keep a record book.

 

What do I do if I move to a different AR county? 

You must notify the Secretary of State in writing of the change and your notary commission will be transferred to the new county of residence.

 

Do I notify the state of a name change? 

Yes. You must submit a certified copy of your marriage license to the Secretary of State, who will notify the county where you reside.

 

What is the venue? 

“State of Arkansas, County of _____”

This notation is called the venue. It is the location of the notarization – not the county where you live or work.

 

What are the steps for performing a notarization? 

Follow these general steps for every notarization you perform:

1. Require the personal appearance of the document signer. Although Arkansas law permits you to perform a notarization without the signer being present if you recognize the signature of the signer, this is never a good idea. Requiring the presence of the signer and identifying the signer with a reliable method of identification are the cornerstones of notarial law that deter forgery and fraud.
2. Examine the document to ensure it is complete and contains a properly formatted notarial certificate.
3. Identify the signer, either through your personal acquaintance of the individual or some type of satisfactory evidence, such as a valid driver’s license or passport.
4. Enter the transaction into your record book. Although the law does not require you to keep a record book, the Secretary of State recommends you keep a record of all your notarial acts.
5. Perform the notarization ceremony. You must communicate verbally with the signer to perform the notarial act. The person usually signs the document at this point.
6. Complete the notarial certificate. Make sure the information is correct and complete. Do not forget to sign and seal the certificate.

 

How do I take an acknowledgment? 

Assuming the document is ready for notarization and the signer has been satisfactorily identified and is willing to sign the document, you take the signer’s acknowledgement by asking a simple question: “Do you acknowledge and declare this is your signature, you understand this document, and you willingly signed the document for the purposes stated herein?”

 

What do I do if a signer objects due to religion? 

A legal alternative to an oath is an affirmation. Ask the question: “Do you solemnly affirm under the penalties of perjury the information contained in this document is the truth?”

 

How do I administer an oath for a document? 

Assuming the document is ready for notarization and the signer has been satisfactorily identified and is willing to sign the document, you administer the oath by asking a simple question, “Do you solemnly swear the information contained in this document is the truth, so help you God?” For an oath, you must witness the person signing the document.

 

What notarial acts am I authorized to perform? 

The main duties of Arkansas notaries are to administer oaths for written documents, for depositions, or for swearing a person into a public office and take acknowledgments. Notaries may also take proofs, take protests and certify copies, although these are done less frequently. Additional information about your duties as a notary public can also be found in the Secretary of State's Arkansas Notary Public Handbook.

 

What does it mean to “notarize a signature”? 

“Notarize a signature” is a generic phrase used when referring to administering an oath or taking an acknowledgment, the two most common notarial acts.

 

Can I notarize a photograph?

No. This is not an authorized duty of a notary. An alternative would be to notarize the signature of a person who is willing to certify the authenticity of the photograph in a sworn statement.

 

May I help a friend fill out immigration papers? 

No. Only attorneys or qualified immigration specialists may perform these duties.

 

May I assist a client with legal documents?

No, not unless you are an attorney licensed to practice law in Arkansas. Furthermore, you may not explain the contents of a document or give any advice about the document. If you do, you may be found guilty of the unauthorized practice of law.

 

May I perform a notarization when I am a party? 

No. If you are a party to the transaction or if you have a financial interest in the transaction, you may NOT be the notary for this transaction. You would not be impartial, and the transaction could be deemed unlawful or unenforceable.

 

Can I perform a notarization for a family member? 

Arkansas law does not specifically address this issue. However, most notary authorities agree notaries must not notarize for their family members. You would compromise your role as an unbiased witness and may jeopardize the validity of an important transaction.

 

May I notarize my own signature? 

No. Notarizing your own signature violates the requirement for impartiality.

 

Who do I contact to check on the status of a claim?

For all questions regarding the status of your filed claim, please contact CNA Surety at 800.331.6053.

 

How do I file a claim against a notary's bond? 

A bond is required by the State to be available in order to compensate any individual harmed as a result of a breach of duty by the notary. Individuals harmed can file a claim against the notaries bond for financial damage.

Claims may occur due to signatures which are forged, incomplete or otherwise defective in real estate transactions, motor vehicle transfers and cases where the validity or date of a document may be an issue.

In order to file a claim against a notary bonded through our company you will need to submit the following:

Copy of improperly notarized document
Proof of error or fraud by notary
Letter stating amount of financial damage or loss caused by the notarization
Please send the above information to:

Claims Department
Notary Public Underwriters
P.O. Box 2428
Little Rock, AR 72203-2428

Or fax to:
877-856-1663
Attn: Claims Department

For all questions regarding the status of your filed claim, please contact CNA Surety at 800.331.6053.

 

What happens if a notarization has cost me money? 

You may file a claim against the notary's bond.

 

What do I do if my order has not shown up on time? 

Please contact Notary Public Underwriters.

 

How do I pay for my order? 

At the moment, Notary Public Underwriters accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards. We also accept check and money orders by mail.

 

May I cancel or change my order? 

This will depend on how far down the process your order has gone. We try to get orders processed as soon as we can, so if your order is listed as “shipped” on your account page it is too late to edit or cancel. If you think you have made a mistake with your order, please contact customer service. We will see if there is something we can do to help.