Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions
1)What is a Notary Public? A notary public is a person of proven integrity who has been commissioned by
the Secretary of State to identify document signers, certify the signature on legal
documents, administer oath/affirmations and to perform other official duties
authorized by the State laws.
2) How do I become a California Notary Public ?
To qualify to become a Notary Public you must:
1) Be 18 years of age or older (there is no maximum age set by status)
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
applicants appointed or reappointed on or after January 1, 2008, must
undergo a back ground
check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as
well as the California Department of Justice.
applicants appointed or reappointed on or after January 1, 2008, are
required to attach a 2"x2"
color passport photo of their person to the
back of the completed notary public application form. (Secretary of State List of Qualifications).
8) When you have confirmation that you have passed the state exam, schedule a Liive Scan. This Live Scan will
be automatically transmitted to the SOS for processing
3)How much does it cost become a Notary Public
1) Our cost includes: $29.95 for the 6 hour on-line class: $19.95 for the 3 hour online class.
2) 69.95 for the live 6 hour class: $59.95 for the live 3 hour class and $80 for the private tutoring.
3) The state examine is an additional $40 to be paid in a separate check made payable to the
Secretary of State at the time of the exam.
4) There is an additional cost for the fingerprinting to be paid directly to the live scan company.
5) The cost of a $15,000 surety bond and the optional error and omission insurance.
6) The cost to register your notary commission and bond at your local county clerk's office.
7) The cost of notary supplies, includes but not limited to: notary journal, seal, acknowledgment and
jurat pads, pens, etc.
5)Live Scan/Back Ground Check
The Secretary of State requires that applicants complete a background check by the State Department of Justice and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. This process must be completed before the Secretary of State will grand the Notary
commission. In class Live Scan service is often provided when taking a live Notary Class.
6) What is the difference between a Live Scan, Finger Print and Background Check?
A Background check is done through the Live Scanning of the finger prints.
7) How do I schedule for a Live Scan? Live Scan applications are available at the SOS website.Click here for Finger Print/Live Scan Service Locations and
Hours of Operations.
8) What if I have a criminal record?
There are some restrictions on criminal records, more information is available on the SOS website under
qualifications. It is important that all criminal information is revealed during the application process.
9)How soon should a notary begin the renewing process?
A notary public who currently holds a commission, should start the renewing process 4-6 months before the
expiration date. The Secretary of State is currently taking 6-8 weeks to process the exams. You must pass the state
exam prior to your expiration date or you will be required to take the six hour class. If you commission has already
expired you must take the 6 hour class. 10)How long is the state exam and how many questions are on the exam?
The state exam is 50 minute with 30 multiple choice questions. The proctors will spend extensive time with
instructions. It is important to allow at least 1-2 hours for the exam. You must pass the exam with a minimum of 70% to receive your commission. Your results will be e-mailed to you when you provide an e-mail address.
11)How far in advance do I need to register before my test date?
Registration must be 15 days prior to the test date. However, they do allow for walk-ins on a first come first serve
12)What do I need to bring to the exam?
You must bring:
1) Current Government Issued ID i.e (driver license, passport)
2) A 2 X2 colored photo of your self
3) A completed application (Get application)
4) Check or money order for $40 made payable to the Secretary of State
5) Two number 2 lead pencils.
13)When will the exam results will be available?
Exam results will be available approximately 15 business days after the xamination. CPS will mail the exam results to
candidates. A score of at least 70% is required to pass the exam. You can also see your test results online at: http://www.notary.cps.ca.gov.
14) Successful and unsuccessful candidates Candidates who successful pass the exam with a minimum of 70% will have their information passed on to the
Secretary of State for processing. The unsuccessful candidates with a less than 70% passing score will receive their
original applications along with a fail notice and instructions on how to re-take the exam for a cost of $20.
15)What is Notary Pro's refund policy?
Notary Pros have a NO REFUND POLICY. We will assist students with any questions until they pass the state
exam. The Live class unsuccessful students may repeat the 6 hr class up to two time with no additional cost.
Unsuccessful 3 hr sstudents must pay to re-take the class or pay $30 to re-take the exam in addition to
the $40 State fee.
16)Can I expect to make money as a Notary Public? Notaries Public who are loan signing agents will typically make more money. Notaries can also make money in the
general public with dedicated effort.
17)Am I required to take a Loan Sign Class to become an agent? Loan Signing Agents are Notaries Public. A class is not required by the Secretary of State. However, many
companies will require a notary to have a certificate indicating they know how to handle loan documents.
18) Secretary of State Main Websites: This website will provide answers to many of the questions notaries public may have, i.e, qualifications, check
list, registration and much more. You may download the Notary Public Handbook and the latest Jurat and
According to Brook's Notary,13th edition:The The public notary is likely the oldest continuing branch of the legal profession existing throughout the world.
After the sudden death of then president Warren Harding, in August 1923, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was sworn into office by a Notary Public. Coolidge was visiting his family farm when he learned of the death of the president, and his father, a public servant, administered the presidential oath of office to his son in the early morning of August 3, 1923.
The attached article is well worth taking the time to read. Vancura v. Katris case, Cook County, Ill 2008
This is a an example of notaries public having unlimited liability with every document we perform services on.
After reading past the legal terms and not getting bogged down in all
of the details of the actual trial, there is much here to be learned
about the conduct of the notary. This incident took place in the state of Illinois, but it could happen anywhere.
California notary laws no longer allow personal knowledge as a means of
identification, but this case will show many other areas where the
notary public has to make sure they understand and are following the
The area of properly identifying the signer is so important, that as an extra precaution for myself, as a notary public, I will ask for finger prints with every document I notarize. even though California laws only require finger prints on power of attorney and certain real estate transactions, (why would a signer refuse?)
One article states: "For his misconduct, the Notary ended up paying a judgment of $30,000. The Court was influenced by critical questionsof conduct by the Notary.The
Notary admitted, for example, that his practice of identifying
strangers was simply to compare signatures on the person’s ID with ones
on the document. And he saw nothing wrong with relinquishing his Notary
seal to a supervisor for safekeeping when it was not in use".