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How to Become a California Notary Public

Updated on August 19, 2012


Notary Public Qualifications

Every person appointed as a notary public shall:

be 18 years of age or older

be a legal California resident;

be able to read, write, and understand English;

satisfactorily complete a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State's office;

clear a background check

California State Seal

Meet CA State Requirements

1. Complete Mandatory Education

2. Obtain Exam Materials

3. Register for the Exam

4. Take the Exam

5. Submit Fingerprints via Live Scan

6. Await Commission Packet

7. Purchase Notary Materials

8. File Notary Oath & Bond

1. Complete Mandatory Education

All applicants appointed on or after July 1, 2005, will be required to satisfactorily complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State prior to appointment as a notary public.

List of approved notary education vendors.

Upon completion of the approved six-hour course of study, the approved notary education vendor will provide you with a Proof of Completion certificate of the mandatory education course.

3. Register for the Exam

Check Out Notary Public Information & Exam Schedule & Register for Exam

Like a driving license you will most likely use the same Vendor to take the Course and sit the test;

List of approved notary education vendors.

4. Take the Exam

Allow plenty of travel time, and bring the following with you:

A current photo identification (e.g. California Driver's License or Identification Card issued by the DMV);

A complete current Notary Public Application form;

The Proof of Completion certificate of your six-hour mandatory education course;

The registration confirmation letter; and

The $40.00 testing and application processing fee (or $20.00 testing fee for applicants who previously took the exam and failed). Payment must be by check or money order made payable to the Secretary of State (cash is not accepted at the exam site).

Exam results will be available 10 business days after the examination. CPS will mail the exam results to candidates. A score of at least 70% is required to pass the exam.

5. Submit Fingerprints Via Live Scan

Before submitting fingerprints via live scan, applicants must first take and pass the notary public exam. Applicants who fail the exam will NOT be required to have their fingerprints taken at this time.

For live scan locations and business hours see the Department of Justice's website

You must bring the following to the live scan site:

  • A completed live scan form.
  • A current photo identification.
  • A $32.00 fingerprint processing fee and an additional rolling fee. Please call the live scan site to verify the amount of the rolling fee.

6. Await Commission Packet

The commission packet will be mailed once the application has been approved and after the applicant has passed the background check.

The commission packet includes:

  • a cover letter with instructions;
  • filing instructions;

  • a 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.

7. Purchase Notary Materials

Notary Bond

A notary public is required to purchase and file an official bond with the county clerk's office within 30 calendar days from the commencement date of the commission. (See Government Code section 8213.)

Notary Journal

A notary public is required to keep and maintain one active sequential journal for all their notarial acts. Journals may be purchased through local stationary supply stores. Be sure that your journal has sufficient space for you to record the required entries. (See Government Code section 8206.)

Notary Seal

A list of authorized seal manufacturers will be mailed with the commission packet. These are the only manufacturers that are authorized to make notary seals.

8. File Notary Oath & Bond

A notary must file an oath of office and bond with the county clerk's office in the county where their principal place of business is located. This must be done within 30 calendar days from the commencement date of the commission. This 30 day period cannot be extended.


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