How to Become a Notary Public in California

Dr Gregory Finkelson

February 22, 2023

A notary public is an officer authorized by the state to verify and authenticate the signatures on legal documents. This can be a rewarding and lucrative career for those who want to serve the community in this way.

Becoming a notary public in California involves completing an approved training course, passing an exam, and filing a bond. In addition, notaries must submit fingerprints for a background check.

Applying for a commission

Becoming a notary public in California begins with completing an application and passing the state exam. The applicant must also pass a criminal background check.

After completing these steps, the applicant will receive a commission from the Secretary of State. The packet will include an official commission certificate, oath filing forms and instructions.

Once the commission is received, a notary public must file an oath of office and surety bond with their county clerk within 30 days from the start date of the commission. These 30 days cannot be extended.

A notary public must also purchase a rubber stamp seal with reproducible ink that meets the specifications for the seal layout required by state law. The official seal of a notary public must be kept in a locked and secured area under the direct control of the notary.

Training requirements

The state of California requires that all new and renewing notaries public take a six-hour course approved by the Secretary of State. The course can be taken online or at a live seminar.

The online notary class can be taken anywhere there is internet access, making it perfect for students who need more time to attend a live seminar. During the course, you will learn about notary laws and the duties of a notary.

This online course also includes a final exam based on the material you have learned in the course. It is a great way to test your knowledge and ensure you understand all the information.

The best part about National Notary is that they let you study at your own pace, which means you can learn as much or as little as you want. Plus, you can print off the course materials if you prefer to study offline.

Exam requirements

California requires public notaries to pass a state exam to get their commission. The exam tests applicants on their knowledge of notary laws and procedures.

Taking an online course can prepare you for this exam. Most courses comprehensively explain the required information and often include practice tests.

Once you have passed the exam, you must file your oath of office and bond with the county clerk within 30 days. These 30 days cannot be extended.

In addition, the state also requires notaries public to undergo a background check. This detailed criminal history report identifies previous convictions of felonies and other disqualifying crimes.

All applicants are required to register for the exam 15 days before their scheduled date. Registration fees are $20.


If you want to become a notary public in California, you can expect to pay a lot. You’ll also have to take an exam, get your education, and complete a background check.

The Secretary of State governs the fees for public notaries. You can charge a flat fee for each signature, or you can charge per hour of service.

A notary public may charge a travel fee when driving to a client’s home or office to perform notarization. However, some states limit the maximum travel costs for notaries public.

Before you get a notary, make sure that the fee is reasonable. This way, you can avoid any surprise bills. It’s also a good idea to shop around. You might even find a notary who charges less than the standard fees.