How to Become a Notary Public in California

Gregory Finkelson

February 22, 2023

How to Become a Notary Public in California

To become a notary public in California, you must meet certain state requirements. These include passing a notary exam, submitting an application and passing a background check with the FBI and California Department of Justice.

Once you have passed the exam and the background check, the Secretary of State will commission you as a notary public. You can then work full-time or as a mobile notary.


To become a notary public in California, you must pass an exam that tests your knowledge of notary laws and procedures. The Secretary of State typically administers this exam.

After passing the exam, you must submit fingerprints to the California Department of Justice for a background check. These fingerprints will be sent to the FBI requesting a federal criminal record summary.

Applicants must also submit an application, which includes proof of identity and residency. They can do this online.

Once the application is approve, the Notary Public must take an oath and file a surety bond and insurance with their local county clerk. They also need to purchase notary seals and supplies.

The process of becoming a notary in California is straightforward. You must be 18 years old and have a clean criminal history. You will also need to complete a course of study and pass the exam.

Background Check

The California Secretary of State requires all applicants for new and renewing notary commissions to pass a background check. This background check is performed by the DOJ and FBI and is a requirement for both new and renewing notary publics.

For new notaries, a background check is required to help determine whether the applicant has been convict of a disqualifying crime. Serious crimes, such as DUIs, felony convictions and convictions of crimes involving moral turpitude, are consider disqualifying.

If an applicant has been convicted of a disqualifying misdemeanor or felony, the application can be denied in some states. In addition, if the applicant has violated court orders for child or family support, they may be denied an appointment.

In California, all new and renewing notaries must submit one set of classifiable fingerprints acceptable to the DOJ via live scan and undergo a background check before being issue their commission. This requirement also applies to those who have had a break in their commission of more than six months.

Course of Study

All new applicants and renewing public notaries must complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State. California Notary Academy offers an engaging and on-demand video course that meets the mandatory state education requirements for both new and renewing notaries public.

This online notary course is an ideal alternative to live seminars and enables you to study at your own pace from anywhere in the world. It can be complete in as little as 5 minutes here and there or up to 2 years at a time.

The course includes learning objectives and summaries that highlight key information. It also includes practice quizzes that test your knowledge and prepare you for the state exam.

When it’s time to take the state exam, you’ll need to bring your photo ID, completed application, a 2″ x 2″ color passport photo, Proof of Completion certificate for the course, a registration confirmation letter and a $40 fee to the testing site. You’ll also need to submit a request for Live Scan fingerprinting.


Before becoming a notary public in California, you must pay a state filing fee and exam fee. You must also take a notary training course and have a fingerprint background check.

A notary public is an impartial third party that witnesses and verifies the signatures of people signing legal documents. This includes property deeds, loan papers, powers of attorney, and contracts.

Often, the notary public will place the signer under oath and state that all the information on the document is true. This allows for a more trusted environment and makes verifying any agreement’s validity easier.

As a notary public in California, you are not allow to give legal advice or offer any services construed as practicing law. The state commissions you to act in an impartial and disinterested manner.