Some companies require that the notary submit a background clearance form.
Requirement for evidence of Background Checks – California Notaries Public- Loan Signing Agents
There has been a development over the past few years that is growing in trend with some title companies and loan signing agencies who are now requiring that California notaries submit a separate background check report along with their application for service. Notaries in California have already completed a thorough background check with the California Department of Justice and with the FBI, which cites all convictions of misdemeanors and felonies in any state and any time during their adult history. Unfortunately, the notary is not permitted to receive a copy of this history background report as California legislation makes it illegal for that background check to be sent to anyone other than the authorized requesting agency which is the California Secretary of State.
Not all states require such extensive background checks for criminal prosecution history for their notary applicants, but since California does, the fact that a prerequisite for a notary in California receiving a commission is the background clearance, we believe that the California commission alone should provide sufficient and convincing evidence that the applicant has passed this rigorous background check for any criminal history needed to work with any company. However, some title companies and loan signing agencies have adopted a proposal that, never-the-less, requires all notaries public, including California commission notaries who are seeking to provide services for those companies undergo a secondary background check. The National Notary Association, an organization that is not a state or governmental agency has initiated an extra background check program to which most companies demanding this extra background check are accepting. There is a cost for that service, of course and some notaries have simply accepted that cost as a part of their own business development.
In our opinion, while the cost for this extra background check is unwarranted given the fact that a California notary has already completed and passed a very rigorous criminal history background check at no small cost to the notary applicant, it remains true that if the applicant wants to begin a business relationship with companies requiring this extra check, there may be little if any other recourse except to comply with this unreasonable demand (again, this is our opinion). Given the fact that we as California notaries are legislatively required to repeat incur the costs for a new background check every four years for each new commission term, we believe that additional background checks by non-state or non governmental agencies to be far less comprehensive for a criminal history check and therefore superfluous at best.
Many notaries have held a firm opposition to this requirement which we believe to be unwarranted. One possible way around this requirement, should the company seeking from an applicant evidence of passing a criminal background check has been for the notary to use the following Background Clearance Form which is available at absolutely no cost and should be used in conjunction with a copy of a current California commission page attached. This form clearly states that the notary applicant in California has completed all background requirements. You may print this form out and fill it out, sign it and forward it to whoever may be asking for the background check. Many have accepted this as satisfactory evidence for background clearance but other companies will still want you to have a separate background clearance and most of these companies have expressed a preference for background checks done through the National Notary Association. If you want to work with those companies who continue to make this unreasonable (our opinion) demand even after you present this form to them, then you will need to contact the National Notary Association, or whatever other program might be acceptable to these companies and pay for this extra background check. We have no idea what that background check actually entails or what they are actually checking, but suppose that there is a charge for this service. If you want to try the Background Clearance Form first, you can download it here.
Please be sure to attach a copy of your Letter of Commission which demonstrates that your commission is specifically a California commission.