1419 19th Street
Bakersfield, California 93301

California Notary Application Process

How to Become a Notary in California

Are you looking to become a California Notary Public? The process is pretty straightforward but can seem a little overwhelming if you are unsure where to look.  Below are some of the most common questions we are asked during one’s journey.

The #1 Question we get is, do I qualify to be a California Notary?  Here are a few must’s and must not’s.

  1. be 18 years of age or older (there is no maximum age set by statute)
  2. be a legal California resident
  3. complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State
  4. satisfactorily complete and pass a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State
  5. clear a background check

Become A Notary Check List

The following is a checklist identifying the steps that must be completed to obtain a notary public commission:

  1. Complete 6-Hour Approved Education Course
  2. Register for the California In-Person Exam
  3. Take the Exam
  4. Submit Fingerprints via Live Scan
  5. Await Commission Packet
  6. Purchase Notary Public Materials
  7. File Notary Public Oath & Bond

How do I apply for a notary commission?

There are a few steps required to become a California Notary Public. Please visit the S.O.S. website for details. Also, we have created a simple step-by-step guide on how to get started.

Download Step-By-Step Becoming A Notary Guide

Who appoints a California Notary Public?

All appointees are handled through the California Secretary of State. We recommend you contact them directly should you have any technical questions.

How old must I be to become a California notary? 

For the majority of states, including California, you must be 18 years of age to become a Notary Public. You can begin processing prior to turning 18. However, you will not be able to be fully-commissioned until after your 18th birthday.

Can I have a residence outside of California? 

You may have multiple residences, but your primary residence (the one you file in your taxes) must reside in California. The only exception is with military personnel. Please refer to the S.O.S. office for clarification.

Can I have a criminal record and still become a notary in California?

All applicants are required to disclose on their application any arrests for which trial is pending and all convictions. Convictions dismissed under Penal Code section 1203.4 or 1203.4a must be disclosed. If you have any questions concerning the disclosure of convictions or arrests, contact the Secretary of State prior to signing the application.

For specifics about your arrest(s) and or conviction(s), please contact the California Department of Justice at (916) 227-3849.

The Secretary of State will recommend denial of an application for the following reasons:

For additional information, please review the Disciplinary Guidelines.

What if I had a notary commission or other license revoked in the past?

Such an occurrence could cause your application to be denied in a few states. In other states, having a revoked license might be a negative factor when your application is being considered.

Should I omit small infractions from a long time ago?

No. It’s extremely important to include everything on your application. If any items are not on your application and are discovered later, there are grounds for immediate rejection of your application.

Do I have to be a United States citizen to become a notary?

No. You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to become a notary. However, you must be in the country legally and maintain a primary residence in California.

Do I have to take a notary education course to become a California notary?

Yes. The first step to becoming a Notary Public in California is to take a 6-hour training course from an approved vendor. Please, note that this is the first step and does not make you a notary once completed. You will need to take your proof of completion from this course to your state exam.

Are you an approved 6-hour course?

Yes. We are licensed by the Secretary of State as an approved 3 and 6-hour training course.

Why is there a 3-hour course? Can I take that course?

The 3-hour course is for currently appointed notaries who completed their filing prior to their notary license expiration. If you are a current California Notary Public, feel free to take this course. Please note: If you do not complete your filing before your license expires, you will be required to take the 6-hour course. Therefore, if you have any doubts, we highly recommend you take the 6-hour course.

Do I have to take an In-Person test to become a notary?

Yes. You are required to take a proctored state exam to complete the process of becoming or renewing your California Notary license. To find a test in your area, please visit:

Do I need to file with my local County Clerk’s office?

A notary public 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.

What is a bond? Do I need to be bonded?

The state of California requires all Notary’s to file a $15,000 Surety Bond. This bond protects the public from any possible errors, negligence, mistakes, or misconduct by a notary. (We are often asked how much this bond will cost. We recommend you budget $100-150).

Are there fees involved with becoming a notary?

Yes. There are a few items you must purchase along with processing fees you will need to pay.

A few of these items include:

We recommend you budget around $500 for all of these fees and supplies.

What will I need to purchase to become a notary?

  1. 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 their principal place of business is located within 30 calendar days from the commencement date of the commission. (Government Code section 8213.)
  2. Notary Public 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. (Government Code section 8206.)
  3. Notary Public Seal
    A list of Secretary of State authorized seal manufacturers will be mailed with the Notary Public’s commission packet. These are the only manufacturers that are authorized to make notary public seals.