Become a Notary in California

 So you want to become a notary? It's important that you check the laws in your state to learn how to qualify. Some states require you to complete an exam while others just need you to complete and return an application to become a notary. Over the next several weeks, NotaryCRM will be sharing the tips on how to become a notary in all 50 states!

First up...Become a Notary in California...

There are several things you need to have in order to become a notary in California, a few of the housekeeping issues first;

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Must be a legal California resident
  • Clear a criminal background check, including fingerprinting

Now, let's take a closer look at some of the more specific requirement to become a mobile notary in CA:

Complete an approved course of study: the course is a six-hour class prior to your initial appointment, then to be reappointed you will need to complete a three-hour course.

  • Must be from the approved vendor list.
  • You will receive a certificate of completion after completing the course that is valid for two years. You will need this certificate to register and take your exam.
  • Pass a written exam - after completing your course, you can register for the exam by contacting the Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS). This is a written exam ONLY - no online exams here.
  • Register at least 15 days prior to the date of your choice - exam dates can also be found at the link above.
  • The exam is closed book based on the California Notary Public Handbook.
  • Format will be multiple choice and it's recommended that you allow 1-2 hours to complete the exam.

What to bring - make sure you have the following items with you when you take the exam:

  • Photo id - A driver's license or State DMV I.D. card, a Canadian or Mexican Driver's license, U.S. Passport or Passport issued by a foreign government, a U.S. Military I.D. card. It must be one of these!
  • Completed Notary Public application form.
  • 2 x2 color passport photograph of yourself
  • Proof of Completion certificate from your class
  • Two No. 2 lead pencils - just like in school!

Get Fingerprinted! After you pass your exam, you will need to get fingerprinted before you can become a notary. You must do this within one year of passing your exam, of you'll have to retake it - this is one step you want to remember! Must be submitted electronically via LiveScan, and bring the following....

  • A completed Request For Live Scan Service form.
  • A current photo identification.
  • A fingerprint processing fee and an additional rolling fee. Updated fees can be found on the website above.
  • Be sure to request a copy of your Request For Live Scan Service form and keep your copy until you receive your notary public commission.
  • No need to mail a copy to the Secretary of State; the information will be transmitted electronically - see it's easier than it sounds and not messy either!

Congratulations - you've completed all the steps! You are well on your way to becoming a mobile notary. Now, once your application is approved and you've passed the background check, your notary public commission packet will be mailed. This will include:

  • A cover letter with instructions;
  • Filing instructions;
  • A notary public commission certificate;
  • Two Notary Public Oath and Certificate of Filing forms;
  • A Certificate of Authorization to Manufacture Notary Public Seals; and
  • A list of Authorized Manufacturers of Notary Public Seals.

Once you receive your packet, the next step is to get your supplies! Here's what you'll need:

  • Notary Public Bond - A notary public is required to purchase and file an official bond with the county clerk's office in the county where your principal place of business is located within 30 calendar days from the commencement date of your commission. You can use any bonding or insurance company of your choice. Check your local telephone directory's yellow pages under the heading "Bonds".
  • Notary Public Journal - A notary public is required to keep and maintain one active sequential journal for all your notarial acts. Journals may be purchased through local stationary supply stores or can be done online using a system like NotaryCRM. Be sure that your journal has sufficient space for you to record the required entries.
  • Notary Public Seal - A list of Secretary of State authorized seal manufacturers will be mailed with the notary public commission packet. These are the only manufacturers that are authorized to make notary public seals.


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