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What are the qualifications to be a Notary?

Every person appointed as a notary public must complete all of these requirements :

  • You must be at least 18 years of age or older  -  There is no maximum age set by statute.
  • You must be a legal California resident  with the intent to reside in Caliifornia -  US Citizenship is not a requirement. 
  • You must submit proof of identiy with a valid ID such as a driver's license, state ID or US Passport to take the state-approved class and state test.
  • You must complete a Secretary of State approved 6-hour education class if you are a new notary.   If you are a renewing notary, you could take an approved 3-hour 'refresher' class but there are strict rules concerning the 3 hour class.  The 6-hour class always will satisfy both the 6-hour and the 3-hour class requirements?   What's the difference between the 6-hour and the 3-hour class?
  • You must submit a completed Notary application
  • You must also submit a 2" x 2" Color passport photo 
  • You must submit a check or money order for $40 and a Certificate of Completion from your approved class. 
  • You must complete and pass a state-proctored written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State.  The exam has 30 multiple choice questions based on California Notary laws.
    70% correct is a passing grade.  You can not take the exam more than once in a calendar month.  Your test results are good for 1 year, which means that you can actually take your class and state test up to 1 year prior to your expiration date.
  • You must clear a background check  -  State law requires all new AND renewing notary public applicants be Live Scan fingerprinted as part of a complete California Department of State and Federal Bureau of Investigation background check prior to being granted an appointment as a notary public.  
  • What does the Secretary of State look for in your background?  - They are looking for any absense of a conviction of a crime involiving Dishonesty or of any crime that is 'incompatible' with your responsibilities as a Notary.  You must not have been convicted of a Felony or any crime involving 'moral turpitude'.   Nolo Contendre also applies to these sections.   They also look for any action taken against any 'professional' license that has been denied, revoked or suspended.  
  • It is a requirement to disclose any arrests for which trial is pending and all convictions on the application.   There is NO time limit for disclosure!  
    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 are unsure and need the specifics about your arrest(s) and or conviction(s), please contact the California Department of Justice at (916) 227-3849.
  • California has Disciplinary Guidelines that maintain consistency in reviewing notary applications, investigating any alleged violations and executing any administrative actions against the Notary.    Here are the Disciplinary LIST OF DISQUALIFICATION Guidelines to review prior to taking the class and test.    
  • If you are found to be non-compliant with child or family support orders, you will be issued a temporary term notary commission but if found to be non-compliant after the notary public commission is issued may be subject to commission suspension or revocation. (Family Code section 17520.)


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