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How to Become a New California Notary Public

What are the total costs to become a new notary in California?

$49.95-$99 Required Training
$40 State Exam ($20 if failed previous exam)
$10-$15 2x2 color "passport style" photo
$80* Live Scan
$45-$109* Required Supplies (Journal, stamp, fingerprint kit)
$50 $15,000/4yr bond
$20-$40 Oath of office
$295-$433 Total costs for 4 year commission.

*Fees vary.

These are some of the costs you will have during the commissioning process.

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New California Notary Public Commission Process

Renewing your notary commission?

Mandatory Education

Attend the mandatory 6-hour training seminar

State Exam

Take the state-administered test (same day of LIVE seminar)
  • Bring a $40 check payable to: Secretary of State
  • Bring a 2"x2" Color "Passport" Photograph
  • Bring a valid photo ID
  • Bring a notary application
  • The test is:
    • 30 questions
    • Multiple choice
    • 50 minutes to complete
    • 70% or higher is a passing grade
  • Taking Online Course:

Test Scores

Receive letter in the mail saying ’You have passed’
  • After the seminar, you can go online to: to view your test score. To obtain your password, call CPS at (916) 263-3520. Test results should be posted 8-10 business days after the exam.

Live Scan

Submit live scan fingerprints to the Department of Justice and FBI for your thorough background check.
  • Cannot be a convicted felon
  • Live scan application is included with your mailed test results.
  • Download Live Scan Form

Processing Period

Wait for your commission paperwork to arrive (5-8 weeks from exam date). For renewing notaries, the commission paperwork for the new commission will be mailed out no sooner than 1 month prior to commission expiration.

You can check current processing times here:

You can check to see if you have been approved here:

Notary Supplies

Order your official notary stamp/embosser and bond

Notary Bond

File your 4-year/$15,000 bond and oath of office with the county clerk

You're Finished!

Congratulations! You are a Notary Public. Now you can advertise your services on

Notary Public Qualifications

Every person appointed as a notary public shall:

  • be 18 years of age or older (there is no maximum age set by statute);
  • be a legal California resident;
  • satisfactorily complete a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State's office;
  • be able to read, write, and understand English; and
  • clear a background check


To determine if a person meets the requirements to fulfill the responsibilities of the position, a completed application shall be submitted at the examination site. The application is forwarded to the Office of the Secretary of State and reviewed by Secretary of State staff for qualifying information. Once an applicant has passed the examination, the applicant will be required to have his/her fingerprints submitted via live scan as part of a thorough background check. Commissioned notaries seeking reappointment with less than a six-month break in service are not required to have their fingerprints retaken. Those applicants who have held a notary public commission in the past, but have had a break in their commission of more than six months, are required to have their fingerprints submitted via live scan.

Child Support

Applicants found to be non-compliant with child or family support orders will be issued temporary term commissions. Notaries found to be non-compliant after the commission is issued may be subject to commission suspension or revocation.


State law requires all applicants be fingerprinted as part of a background check prior to being granted an appointment as a notary public. Information concerning the fingerprinting requirement will be mailed to candidates who pass the examination.

You are required to disclose all arrests and convictions on your application. 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.

If you do not recall the specifics about your arrest(s) and or conviction(s), you can contact the California Department of Justice at (916) 227-3849.

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

  • Failure to disclose any arrest or conviction; or
  • Conviction of a felony; or
  • Conviction of a disqualifying misdemeanor where not more than 10 years have passed since the completion of probation.

The most common disqualifying convictions are listed below; however, this list is not all-inclusive:

  • Accessory
  • Arson-related offenses
  • Assault
  • Auto theft
  • Battery upon a child resulting in corporal injury
  • Battery upon a peace officer
  • Burglary
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Carrying a loaded firearm in a public place
  • Child molestation
  • Child pornography
  • Conspiracy
  • Discharge of a firearm in a public place or into an inhabited dwelling
  • Drugs, possession for sale and sale
  • Embezzlement
  • Escape without force
  • Failure to comply with a court order
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Failure to return to confinement
  • False financial statements
  • False imprisonment
  • Forgery
  • Fraud involving, but not limited to:
    • bank cards,
    • credit cards,
    • insufficient funds/checks,
    • insurance,
    • mail,
    • Medi-Cal or Medicare,
    • real estate,
    • tax,
    • and welfare
  • Fraudulent impersonation of a peace officer
  • Hit and run
  • Kidnapping-related offenses
  • Manslaughter
  • Pimping and pandering
  • Possession of an unregistered firearm
  • Practicing without a license when a license is required
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Receipt of stolen property
  • Resisting or threatening a peace officer
  • Robbery
  • Solicitation
  • Statutory rape
  • Tax evasion
  • Terrorist threats
  • Theft, grand and petty, including burglary and robbery
  • Threats to commit a crime involving death or great bodily injury


Note: When a recommendation is made to deny an application, the applicant has the right to appeal the recommendation through the administrative hearing process.