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Arkansas Frequently Asked Questions

The following are the most commonly asked questions from our Arkansas customers. If your question is not listed, feel free to contact us for an answer.

What is the purpose of a notary public? 

A notary public is a person of integrity who is appointed to act as an unbiased 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.

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 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.

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.

Do I have any liability as a notary? 

Yes. The public relies on notaries to carry out their duties properly. An error on a notarization could result in someone losing their property or a multi-million dollar transaction being nullified. Consequently, a court may hold you responsible for the loss and enter a judgment against you. Most bond companies require reimbursement if they settle a claim against you. Moreover, you would be accountable for any amount not covered by your bond.

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.

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

Arkansas notaries are not required to keep a record book with details of each notarial act performed, but it is highly recommended by the Secretary of State's Office. A record book will help you recall past notarial acts if you ever have to appear in court to testify. Contact us directly to order at (800) 821-0822 or purchase online through our Supplies section.

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.

Can a non-resident be a notary in Arkansas? 

Yes. The law permits non-residents from adjoining states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Texas) to obtain an Arkansas notary commission if they work in Arkansas.

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

You cannot become an Arkansas notary if you have been convicted of a felony.

What are the qualifications to become a notary in Arkansas? 

• Be at least 18 years old
• Be able to read and write English
• Have not been convicted of a felony
• Have not had a notary commission revoked during the past 10 years
• Be a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident alien
     - If you are a permanent resident alien, you must file a recorded Declaration of Domicile with your application
• Be a legal resident of the State of Arkansas, or a legal resident of an adjoining state, who is employed in Arkansas, or nonresident spouse of a United States Military member employed or operating a business in Arkansas
• Have reviewed the Arkansas notary law and understands the duties of a notary public

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

How do I take the test?

You will need to visit https://www.classmarker.com/online-test/start/?quiz=ey664f0d6f1e2c38 to register and complete the exam. Once completed, you will save the results as a PDF. You will need to upload your results when completing the application with the Secretary of State's Office.

 How do I take the Oath of Office? 

Within 30 days after your commission is issued, you must go to the Recorder of Deeds/Circuit Clerk in your county of commission to take your oath and pay the mandatory filing fee. This fee varies per county; you may contact the county to confirm the fee.

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

10 years.

How long before my expiration date should I renew? 

The Secretary of State will accept applications for renewal approximately 2 months before your expiration date. Renewing early does not shorten your current term. Be sure to allow plenty of time to complete all the forms to ensure you do not have a break between commissions. Please see the Renew Your Commission page for more information.

Do I have to get a new stamp when I renew?

Yes. Arkansas notary laws require notary seals to include the notary's expiration date. Since the expiration date will change when you renew, you must obtain a new seal that reflects the new expiration date.

How do I pay for my order? 

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

When can I expect to receive my order? 

You can usually expect your order to arrive within 5 to 7 business days after your order ships. However, please allow up to 12 business days for any carrier delays.

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

Please contact Notary Public Underwriters.

May I cancel or modify my order? 

This will depend on how far along your order is in the process. Orders are processed as quickly as possible; therefore once your order has been marked as "shipped" on your account page, it is too late to modify or cancel the order. 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.

What type of notary seal is required? 

The law allows the use of either a rubber stamp or a metal embosser as your notary seal. The seal must be in black or blue ink and include the following information:

  • the notary's name as commissioned (the same as your official signature);
  • the notary's county of commission (the county where the bond is filed);
  • the words "Notary Public" and "Arkansas";
  • the notary's commission number; and
  • the notary's expiration date.

The stamp should make a legible impression, which can be photographically reproduced. When using an embosser, we advise you to use an impression inker, 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.

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

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

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

The law specifies that the notary seal must be in black or blue ink and 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.

If I use an embosser, do I have to use ink with it?

Yes, all notary seals must be able to be photocopied and must use black or blue ink. You may order an impression inker to easily darken the raised portion of the embosser impression. 

Can I sign my signature in any color of ink?

No, as of 2013, all notaries must sign their name in either black or blue ink.

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

You must notify the Secretary of State the change by visiting http://bcs.sos.arkansas.gov to file an amendment form. 

Do I notify the state of a name change? 

Yes. You will need to use the notary management system to file an amendment formYou will need to include a certified copy of the document designating the change, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or other court order. 

If I change my name or county of commission, do I have to get a new notary seal?

Yes, you will need to obtain a new notary stamp or embosser that includes your new notary name and/or county of commission. Be sure to destroy the old stamp or embosser to prevent accidentally using it or from somebody else using it fraudulently.

What do I do if I lose my seal or it's stolen?

If your seal is lost or stolen, you must notify the Secretary of State's Office in writing explaining the situation. The Secretary of State's Office will make a notation on your record and will issue a new commission number. A new notary seal should be purchased once you receive the new commission number.

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.

What notarial acts am I authorized to perform? 

Under Arkansas law, notaries are allowed to administer oaths, swear witnesses, take affidavits, take depositions, and take acknowledgments of deeds and other instruments in writing and authorized by law to be acknowledged. Additional information about your duties as a notary public can also be found in the Secretary of State's Arkansas Notary Public Handbook.

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.

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.

May I charge a fee for my notary services? 

Arkansas notaries are not required to charge for their services. If a notary does charge, the amount must be reasonable and disclosed to and agreed upon by both the client(s) and the notary prior to the notarial act taking place.

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.  

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.

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?”

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 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 help a friend fill out immigration papers? 

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

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.

May I notarize a document in a foreign language?

Yes, you can notarize a document in a foreign language, but the notarial certificate must be in English.

My employer paid for my notary commission, do I have to give it back when I stop working there?

No. You are the notary. All property associated with the commission belongs to you even if somebody else paid for it.

What should I do if I make a mistake when notarizing a document?

Use an ink pen to draw a line through the mistake and initial the correction. Do not use correction fluid, as they make it difficult to identify who made the correction.

What should I do if my notary seal is not clear on a document?

If there's room, make a clear impression nearby the illegible one. If there isn't room, attach a separate notarial certificate with the same wording as it originally appeared on the document. Have the signer sign again and note on the document that the completed notarial certificate is attached. 

What happens if a notarization has cost me money? 

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

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 notary's 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 the improperly notarized document
  • Proof of error or fraud by notary
  • Letter stating the amount of financial damage or loss caused by the notarization

Please send the above information to:

Claims Department
Notary Public Underwriters
P.O. Box 7457
Tallahassee, FL 32314-7457

Or fax to:
Attn: Claims Department

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

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.


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