Your Guide to Becoming a Notary Public and Notary Exams

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Become a Notary: California State Information

Becoming a notary can be an important and exciting option for many people. Notaries perform many important civic duties and are representatives of their states and counties who ensure the validity of important documents and transactions. Many people find that becoming a notary is a fulfilling and worthwhile career or part time job. Each and every state has different laws for becoming a notary. Learn about your state's specific process to become a notary including notary eligibility and step by step instructions.

Becoming a Notary in California and California's Notary Exam Requirements

Become a Notary in California

In the state of California you will be commissioned and approved to be a public notary for the entire state which means you can operate in all cities and counties. The process will be conducted and reviewed by the Secretary of State. Like in all states, you will have to meet certain requirements to become a notary public in accordance with the law, as well as submit an application and pay applicable fees.

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California Notary Requirements

In order to become a notary in the state of California, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Resident of California
  • Never convicted of a felony
  • Haven't had a notary application or commission rejected in the last ten years
  • Completed an approved public notary course
  • Pass a written exam
  • Complete an authorized background check and submit fingerprints

California Notary Term Length

A notary in the state of California is appointed for a period of four years. If you wish to continue to be a notary in the state of California after four years, you must renew your notary appointment.

California Notary Education Requirements

In the state of California, you are required by law to take a notary education course either through the state or an authorized notary course provider. The course is six hours in length and can be either taken in person or online. When you submit your application, you will have to submit proof that you have taken the necessary course.

California Notary Exam

In the state of California you are required by law to pass a notary exam to become an official notary. You will take this exam at an approved state location and must receive at least 70% to pass.

California Notary Bond Requirements

In the state of California you are required by law to submit a $15,000 bond which ensures that you are conducting your notary business in full accordance with the law.

California Notary Application Process

  • Step 1:

    Find a state approved California notary education course and complete the 6 hour class either online or in person.
  • Step 2:

    Complete the application form for becoming a California notary public. You can download the form on the website of the Secretary of State.
  • Step 3:

    Take and pass the California notary exam through a state approved agency. In many cases, this will be part of the notary education course you take. Bring your completed California notary application and $40.00 to the examination. They will be submitted to the office of the Secretary of State once you pass the California notary exam. The minimum passing score is 70%.
  • Step 4:

    If you pass the California notary exam and your application is approved, you will receive notice that you have passed and your application will be passed on to the Secretary of state. You will then need to submit fingerprints via Live Scan to the state.

    Find Live Scan offices and hours
  • Step 5:

    If you are approved to become a notary, you will receive a California Notary Commission packet. This will include an Official Commission Certificate, Oath Filing Forms, a Certificate of Authorization, as well as detailed instructions for completing the California notary process. Make sure to follow the directions very carefully.
  • Step 6:

    Purchase the necessary notary equipment for conducting business as a California notary public. All of these must be filed with the state per the directions in the Notary Commission packet.

    This includes:
    1. A notary bond of $15,000
    2. An official notary public seal from an authorized vendor
    3. A notary public journal
  • Step 7:

    Start your career as a California notary public. You may consider the following books to help create a flourishing business in your community. They offer great advice for marketing your business and finding ongoing clients in your community.
  • Step 8:

    Consider purchasing Errors and Omissions Insurance. Most notaries consider this as an essential to running a successful notary business. Errors and Omissions Insurance protects you, up to the limit of your insurance, from any mistakes you may make as a notary that result in legal actions. This is different than a bond because a bond protects the public, where as Errors and Omissions Insurance protects you.