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How to Become an Arkansas Notary


The Arkansas Notary Process:


Are you interested in becoming an Arkansas notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Arkansas notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The state of Arkansas appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Arkansas is a straightforward process, and as long as you fit the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become an Arkansas notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.

 

This guide will help you understand:

  1. Who can become an Arkansas notary
  2. The process to become an Arkansas notary
  3. Basic Arkansas notary duties

What are the qualifications to become an Arkansas notary?


To become an Arkansas notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:  

  

  1. Be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Be a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien with proof of Declaration of Domicile.
  3. Be a legal resident of Arkansas, or a legal resident of an adjoining state who is employed in or operating a business in Arkansas, or a nonresident spouse of a United States military service member employed or operating a business in Arkansas.
  4. Be able to read and write English.
  5. Not have had a notary public commission revoked during the past ten years.
  6. Not have been convicted of a felony.

What is the process to become an Arkansas notary?


In order to become an Arkansas notary and receive an Arkansas notary commission, a notary applicant must:   

 

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Obtain a surety bond in the amount of $7,500.
  3. Create a free account in the Notary Management System Account with the Secretary of State at https://bcs.sos.arkansas.gov/.
  4. Login and select from the “Notary” drop-down menu the type of application the applicant wishes to file.
  5. Complete the Exam—a multiple-choice exam is required for all new and renewing applicants.
  6. Upon successful completion of the exam, the applicant will be immediately directed to the notary application for completion.
  7. Print and sign the application with the exact name you signed on the surety bond.
  8. Have the application notarized by an Arkansas notary.
  9. Return the completed application with original signature, copy of the surety bond, and $20 application fee to the Secretary of State.
  10. Submit proof of Declaration Domicile for a permanent resident alien with completed application.
  11. Upon approval, the Secretary of State will issue three original certificates of commission.
  12. Take all three certificates to the circuit clerk in the notary’s county of residence or employment or business with the original surety bond within thirty days. The clerk will file an original certificate of commission and the notary’s original bond and return two certificates to the notary.
  13. Return one of the completed certificates of commission and the oath of office to the Secretary of State to complete the approval process in a timely manner.
  14. Upon receipt of the completed oath of commission certificate, the Secretary of State places the notary public in “good standing,” issues a certificate of commission, and issues a notary public identification card to the notary.
  15. Present the notary public identification card to the stamp vendor to purchase the notary seal.

 

Note: Upon completion of an application of appointment, the notary applicant must certify that he or she has reviewed the law concerning notaries public and understands the duties of a notary public.

Can a non-resident become a notary in Arkansas?

Yes. A legal resident of an adjoining state who is employed or operating a business in Arkansas may apply to become an Arkansas notary public (ACA 21-14-101[b][1]An).  Likewise, a nonresident spouse of a United States military service member employed or operating a business in Arkansas may apply for an Arkansas notary commission.  Non-residents must:  

 

  1. Satisfy the same qualifications as Arkansas residents.
  2. Follow the same application for appointment procedures as Arkansas residents.
  3. File the original commission certificate, surety bond, and oath of office with the circuit clerk of the county where they are employed or operate a business in Arkansas.
  4. Submit one copy of a United States Department of Defense DD Form 1173 or a United States Department of Defense DD Form 1173-1, otherwise known as a Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card to be included with the application of a nonresident spouse of a United States military service member who is employed or operating a business in Arkansas.
  5. List a physical residential address from the home state and the employer’s physical address in Arkansas.
  6. File with the Secretary of State a change of personal information form and have his or her commission transferred to the new county of employment or business in Arkansas whenever there is a new county of commission during the term of appointment.

 

Note: “An Arkansas notary commission for an out-of-state resident is only valid as long as he or she maintains employment in Arkansas or, if a nonresident spouse of a United States military service member, maintains employment or operates a business in Arkansas” (Arkansas Notary Public and eNotary Handbook).

How much does it cost to become a notary in Arkansas?

To become a notary public in Arkansas, a notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following: (1) a $20 fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a surety bond; (3) a notary stamp; (4) a journal if a notary wishes to adhere to the recommendations of the Secretary of State that Arkansas notaries maintain a journal of their notarial acts; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal protection against liability.

How do I renew my Arkansas notary commission?

Arkansas notaries may apply for reappointment no earlier than sixty days before the expiration of their notary commissions. The application for reappointment process is the same as the initial application for appointment process and procedures, which includes a new application, a surety bond, and the fee of $20. Every renewal application received before the sixty-day time period will be rejected and returned. The renewal application must include a notary’s commission number, if any.  To apply for reappointment as a notary public, login to your Notary Management System Account, or go here: https://bcs.sos.arkansas.gov/.

Are there any exams or notary courses required to become an Arkansas notary public or to renew my Arkansas notary public commission?

Yes. All new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries in Arkansas are required to complete and pass an online exam with the Arkansas Secretary of State. The online exam consists of 25 multiple choice questions, and at least twenty must be answered correctly to obtain a passing score. To prepare notary applicants for the online exam, the Secretary of State offers all the answers to the exam through: (1) a free online notary training course available through the Notary Management System; (2) FAQs; and (3) the Arkansas Notary Public and eNotary Handbook.  To take the initial online exam, each applicant must first create a Notary Management System Account and login with a username and password on the Secretary of State’s website. If the applicants pass the online exam, they are allowed to access the new and renewal application. To begin the online exam, click here: Notary Management System, or go to: https://bcs.sos.arkansas.gov/.

Can I perform electronic notarization in Arkansas?

Yes. Effective August 3, 2017, the Arkansas Legislature enacted the “Arkansas Electronic Notary Public Act” (Sections 21-14-301 to 21-14-308), which allows a traditional notary public in good standing with the Secretary of State to be eligible to become an electronic notary public. The Secretary of State requires a notary public to register the capability to notarize electronically before performing an electronic notarial act. An applicant who seeks to become an electronic notary must submit to the Secretary of State: (1) an application stating the intent to become an electronic notary on a form provided by the Secretary of State; (2) an attestation that he or she has not been convicted of a felony; (3) a filing fee of $20; (4) successfully complete an approved course of study and pass an examination; and (5) take a refresher course every two years. First and foremost, the Arkansas Electronic Notary Public Act requires that that the document signer must physically appear before the electronic notary public at the time of the electronic notarization. This means the signer(s) and the electronic notary are physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials to each other without reliance on an electronic device such as a telephone, computer, video camera, or facsimile machine at the time of the execution of the electronic notarization. All the same rules, standards, practices, and regulations that apply to a traditional paper notarization also apply to an electronically signed document including, but not limited to, personal appearance before the notary public. The Act allows an Arkansas electronic notary to set a reasonable fee for each electronic notarial act. The liability, sanctions, and remedies for the improper performance of electronic notarial acts are the same under the law for the improper performance of a notarial act performed by a traditional notary public. The commission for electronic notarization runs concurrently with the traditional commission, expiring on the same date.

Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Arkansas?

No. The Arkansas notary statute requires that a document signer physically appear before the electronic notary and be close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials without reliance on an electronic device such as a telephone, computer, video camera, or facsimile machine at the time of the execution of the electronic notarization. Moreover, physical proximity is not a statutory requirement for a document to be electronically notarized in a “remote online notarization.” Therefore, the state of Arkansas strictly prohibits notaries and electronic notaries from performing remote online notarizations.

How long is the term of a notary public commission in Arkansas?

The term of office of an Arkansas notary public is ten years commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void (1) by resignation, death, or revocation; (2) when a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States; (3) when a notary is convicted of a felony; (4) when a nonresident notary is no longer employed in Arkansas; and (5) when a nonresident spouse of a U.S. military service member is no longer employed or operating a business in Arkansas.

Is an Arkansas notary bond required to become a notary in Arkansas?

Yes. A surety bond in the amount of $7,500 is required for all new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and for renewing notaries in Arkansas. A notary bond can be either: (1) executed and issued by a surety company qualified and authorized to do business in Arkansas; or (2) purchased through a surety contract from a general business Arkansas corporation which has registered with the Arkansas Insurance Department and otherwise complied with all the requirements under Arkansas law. Arkansas notaries must file their original surety bonds with the circuit clerks (recorders of deeds) for the counties in which they reside, or, in the case of a resident of an adjoining state or a nonresident spouse of a United States military service member, in the county in Arkansas of his or her place of employment or business. In addition, a copy of the surety bond must be attached to the application of appointment or reappointment sent to the Secretary of State. To purchase an Arkansas notary bond, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

Do I need an Arkansas notary errors and omission insurance?

An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Arkansas. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Arkansas notaries obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial or other types of loss to the public or a client when a notary public is sued for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage an Arkansas notary selects. To obtain information regarding an E&O insurance policy, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Arkansas?

An Arkansas notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county anywhere within the borders of the state of Arkansas. A notary’s jurisdiction is not only limited to the notary’s county of commission. Likewise, a notary public may not perform notarial acts outside the state of Arkansas.

Who appoints Arkansas notaries public?

 

The Arkansas Secretary of State appoints notaries public, processes all applications for appointment and reappointment, issues notary public commissions, and maintains the records relating to notaries. Contact information for the Secretary of State is as follows:

 

Arkansas Secretary of State
Business and Commercial Services Division
1401 West Capitol, Suite 250
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-1094
501-682-3409 or toll free: 888-233-0325

Email: notary@sos.arkansas.gov

https://www.sos.arkansas.gov/business-commercial-services-bcs/notary-public-and-enotary

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Arkansas?

Yes. The Arkansas notary statute requires all notaries public to use either a rubber stamp seal or a seal embosser in blue or black ink under or near a notary’s official signature on every notarial certificate (ACA 21-14-107[b][1]). 

 

Dimensions: The Arkansas notary statute does not provide the legal specifications regarding the size, shape, or layout of a notary’s official seal.

 

Required Elements: The official seal must include the following information:

 

  • The notary public’s name exactly as the notary writes his or her official signature
  • The name of county where the notary’s bond is filed
  • The words “Notary Public”
  • The word “Arkansas”
  • The notary’s commission expiration date
  • The notary’s commission number issued by the Secretary of State, if any

 

Note: The notary’s official seal must be clear and legible and capable of photographic reproduction. The official seal may NOT include: (1) the words the  “Great Seal of the State of Arkansas” or (2) an outline of the state of Arkansas.

Is a notary journal required in Arkansas?

No. The Arkansas notary statute does not require Arkansas notaries public to record the notarial acts they perform in a register or journal. While a journal is not required by state notary law, the Arkansas Secretary of State and the American Association of Notaries highly recommend that Arkansas notaries keep a register or journal of their official acts: (1) to assist in recalling past notarial acts, if needed, or if legally challenged; (2) to testify in court if a notary is called upon to testify; and (3) to provide irrefutable evidence that the notary used reasonable care and standard notarial practices in the execution of the notarial act in question. Arkansas notaries are encouraged to maintain a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act performed as a protective measure against liability. For Arkansas notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

How much can an Arkansas notary charge for performing notarial acts?

Arkansas notary fees are not set by state notary statute. Section 21-6-309an states, “ A notary public authorized to perform notarial acts in this state may charge and collect a fee for a notarial act if the fee: (1) is a reasonable amount as determined by the notary public; and (2) the fee is disclosed to and agreed upon by the client or principal before executing the notarial act.” Arkansas notaries may not overcharge notarial fees; to do so is punishable by a fine of no less than $100 for each offense (ACA 21-6-309[b]).

What notarial acts can an Arkansas notary public perform?

An Arkansas notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (ACA 21-14-104 through 21-14-106):

 

  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths or affirmations
  • Protest instruments
  • Swear witnesses
  • Take affidavits
  • Take depositions under Rule 28 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 28 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Perform copy certifications of non-recordable documents

 

Note: Depositions that are not attested to by a certified court reporter will not be accepted in Arkansas courts in accordance with the Arkansas court rules. Arkansas notaries who are not certified court reporters should not accept depositions as an act of their notarial office.

How do I update my address with the Arkansas Secretary of State?

Within thirty days of a change in the notary’s residential address within the county of commission, a notary must file an address change online using the Notary Management System with the Secretary of State.  Whenever there is a new county of residence or a new county of employment, notaries, nonresident notaries, and nonresident spouses of U.S. military service members are required to provide, within thirty days, notification that their county of commission has changed to the (1) Secretary of State and (2) circuit clerk of their previous county of commission. Upon receiving the notification of the notary’s change of address to a new county, the Secretary of State shall transfer the notary’s appointment and commission to the notary’s new county of residence or to the nonresident notary’s new county of employment. The Secretary of State will issue a certificate verifying the notary’s new county of residence (or the nonresident notary’s new county of employment). The notary must then take this certificate to the circuit clerk where the original bond is filed. After receiving the original bond, the notary will file with the circuit clerk of the new county of residence (or new county of employment) the notary’s original bond or certified copy of the original bond. The Secretary of State will issue a new identification card to the notary reflecting the change in county of commission. The notary will need to purchase a new notary seal that reflects the new county of commission. To update a notary’s information online, click here: Notary Management System, or visit https://bcs.sos.arkansas.gov/.

Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Arkansas?

Whenever there is a change in the notary’s name that involves a court order, an Arkansas notary must file a name change online using the Secretary of State’s Notary Management System, which will allow a notary to print a completed amendment form. The printed application and a certified copy of the court order concerning the notary’s legal name change must be submitted to the Secretary of State within thirty days of the filing of the court order with the clerk. An Arkansas notary must also file with the circuit clerk of the county of residence (or county of employment) a certified copy of the court order of the notary’s legal name change. A certified copy of the public document designating the name change such as a marriage license, divorce decree, or other court document must include an official seal of the county, and many times it will have a raised or embossed seal with an original signature of the authorizing county official. A plain photocopy of the legal document will not be accepted. The Secretary of State will issue a new identification card to the notary reflecting the change in the notary’s legal name. The Arkansas notary must purchase a new notary seal that reflects the new name. To update a notary’s information online, click here: Notary Management System, or visit https://bcs.sos.arkansas.gov/.

Arkansas notarial certificates:

Click here to view Arkansas notarial certificates.

Revised: October 2019

Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. Information this page is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.