Becoming a notary public in California

Are you interested in becoming a notary?

If so, Awesome!  It’s a great avenue for hard workers who desire some flexibility. Many people choose to do notary for an employer, as an additional source of income, while others  make it a full time endeavor. If you commit energy to notary, you can start a business of your own. So what do you need to do become a notary? We’ll sum it up for you in a few easy steps. It’ll cost a few hundred dollars up front, but this money can be made back quickly if you are an active notary.  Also, check to see if you qualify as a notary.

“It’s dangerous to go alone, take this [checklist].”

  1. Have Passport Photo taken (Approx. $8)
  2. 6 Hours Approved Education (Approx. $200)
  3. Notary Public Application / Take Exam ($40)
  4. Submit Live Scan Fingerprints ($85)
  5. Await Commission Packet
  6. Order Notary Seal (Approx. $30),  Journal, and other supplies (Approx. $50)
  7. File Notary Oath and Bond (Approx. $60)


1. Pay for necessary notary items

  1. Passport Photos 
  2. State Approved 6 Hour Training 
  3. Notary Bond
  4. Live Scan
    (*Items in bold mandatory)
  5. Notary Seal Stamp
  6. Notary Journal
  7. Ink Pads
  8. notary certificates pads

If you are serious about becoming a notary. It is important to know there are some up front costs. These costs will be reimbursed quickly by being an active notary. You can expect approximately $400 of costs to start as a notary.  Acting as a notary for a loan signing can produce $150 (under a broker)  to $300 (acting independently) depending on a transaction. You can see how you can make your money back quickly.  There are lots of other ways to act as notary that will pay back your initial start up costs. For now, let’s consider what you’re going to need to get started.

Having passport photos taken is a great first step. You will need a passport photo to submit your notary application at the time of the exam.  It is an easy thing to knock out early so that they are not forgotten later. Visit Costco or your local postal store for a quick passport photo. They typically provide you two copies. Hold on to them for your exam day and bring them with you. Your approved notary educator may also provide these photos on training day within their packages if you choose to go the route.

The state approved six hour training, the notary bond, and Live Scan are mandatory for becoming a notary.  It is best to pay for these items up front to expedite future steps in becoming a notary that are time sensitive. Other items like the notary seal, journal, ink Pads, may be purchased later although it is best to buy all items up front so that you can operate as a notary quickly after becoming one.

Having all items purchased in advance streamlines the process of becoming a notary. it also ensures you’re ready for each step.


2. Six (6) Hours Approved Notary Education

There are many approved education vendors for notary across the state. Venues range from community colleges to insurance agencies skilled in teach notary learning. The most reputable and recognized organization is the National Notary Association.  The National Notary Association and other notary education vendors offer start to finish training. They typically offer reasonable packages that include your notary supplies. We have trained through the National Notary Association and recommend them as an incredible full service training agency.


3. Notary application and taking the CA Notary Exam

Once you have completed your 6 hours of approved notary education, it is time to sign up for the notary exam. This test is provided by state approved proctors. These proctors are often lined up to provide the exam immediately following your 6 hours of approved education.If that is not the case for your educator, ask them about ‘next steps’ for taking your notary exam. You should be able join a notary exam session near you.  The California notary proctors, CPS HR Consulting offer their upcoming exam dates online as well.

Important: You will need your completed notary application, your passport photo, and a check made out for $40 to the “Secretary of State’. Make sure the funds are in the bank. The check must clear or the application will not.

The notary exam is 30 questions and the 6 hours training will give you all the information you need to pass it. Download and study the California Notary Handbook in advance to get a general understanding of the notary procedure. The class will prepare you. You will receive test results around 14 days after you’ve taken the test. These results will be provided by a physical letter and an email at request.


4. Submit Live Scan Fingerprints

In order to process your notary commission. The California Secretary of State will run a background check on you to ensure you are an eligible candidate for notary. Your fingerprints will also need to be submitted via Live Scan. These services may possibly be offered during your 6 hours education at an extra convenience cost.  There are Live Scan services provided all over California. At approximately $75 to $100 they will provide you the service.  This can be done just before you’ve started your notary training, or just after. The Secretary of State will need to see Live Scan cleared to process your commission once you’ve passed the exam.  Find a location near you online and bring the Request for lIve Scan document with you.


5. Await Notary Commission Packet

Once you’ve passed the notary exam, your background check has come back clear, and the California Secretary of State has deemed you a good citizen, they will send your commission packet. It will come in a big yellow envelope and it will contain some of the documents necessary for finalizing your career as a notary. Within this packet, you can expect to receive your California Notary Commission, Certificate of Authorization to Produce Notary Public Seal, Two Notary Oath of Office forms. You will need all of these to proceed. Just be patient, they’re coming! Once received, it is best to knock out the final steps of the notary process fast, especially filling your oath and bond at the local County Clerk. You have less than 30 days to file your oath and bond. Read on.


6. File your oath and bond at the County Clerk

Filing your oath and bond is the final step for becoming a notary. A notary (surety bond) is used to protect the public if you make any mistakes along the way. You may have purchased your bond in advance. Call the agency that you bought your bond from. Let them know you have received your commission certificate and to go ahead and mail you your bond certificate. Some agencies like the National Notary Association will issue them to be mailed automatically after your commission has been released by the Secretary of State.

After having had received your bond and commission packet in the mail. You are ready to visit the county clerk. It is important to do this within 30 days of the date on your commission certificate.

You will need to bring the following items:

  1. Notary Bond
  2. Two Notary Oath of Office forms (from your commission packet)
  3. Notary Commission (from your commission packet)
  4. Government Issued Picture Identification (Passport, CA ID)
  5. Check/Card/Cash for Payment of Filing

While at the county clerk you will file your bond and be sworn in as a notary. If you have received your notary seal and journal in the mail, you are able to act as a notary immediately after!



7. Congrats! You’re a notary!

After having completed all of the above steps You are ready to act as a notary! Don’t feel intimidated, if you follow simple steps before scheduling a notary appointment, you will be protected. Learn how to do a notarial act, practice by doing, you’ll be a pro in no time.