Notary Video Course

6-hour Notary Educational Course On-line

Chapter 1 - The Notary Commission

Video 1, Chapter 1.
Obtaining and Managing a Commission

This video covers:
Meet the instructor
Part A. Eligibility for Appointment

Section 1.Residence/Citizenship Requirement
Section 2. Age Requirement
Section 3. Course of Study Requirement
Section 4. Examination Requirement
Section 5. Background Check Requirement
Section 6. Application

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              Instructions to use this course if you are not attending a live notary seminar
See transcript below
Take the sample exam

Video 1
Meet the instructor; Eligibility for appointment; The notary application

Hello there. Thank you for joining me.  My name is Daniel Jones and I'm going to be instructor for this course today.  You’re going to be able to use this course to satisfy your educational requirements and then take your notary exam if you'd like to become a notary in California,  so let's go ahead and get started.

Chapter one:  Obtaining and Managing a Notary Commission

We are going to open up our discussion by exploring the requirements a person needs to meet in order to become a California Notary Public, but first, I want to mention that the notary receives their appointment by the California Secretary of State.  Of course,  it the Secretary of State who ultimately determines whether or not new notary appointments are even required in the state.

So let's talk about the criteria that needs to be met by someone who wants to become a notary public in California. To become a notary in California, a person must first be a California resident; be eighteen years of age, and the person must complete a notary education course. Of course, that person must also pass a written, proctored, closed-book examination which covers California notary law and also must pass a criminal background check. Let's look at each of these a little more closely.

Unless the person is going to be specifically appointed to a military post, the notary applicant needs to be a California resident at the time of appointment. Notary law doesn't require an applicant to have lived in California for any particular period of time to establish a residency. When you complete your notary application, you'll find an area for you to list your address of residence which must of course, be in California. The point is that you cannot reside in New York, for example, or Arizona  and be a California notary public. Your residency must be somewhere in California.

While there's no requirement to be a United States citizen, the notary applicant who is not a U.S. citizen, must have legal U.S. residency. That applicant is going to need to have an alien registration card or something similar with evidence of legal residency at the time that they submit the application. We usually submit the notary application at the time of testing and a new application must be submitted for each notary term. Things are little different if you're going to be assigned to the military or naval reservation. This type of notary must be a United States citizen.

Okay, next, the applicant must be at least eighteen years old at the time of appointment. That is straightforward enough, except that someone who would like to take the class before they turn eighteen really should wait until they turn eighteen before taking the notary exam. That’s because as a part of examination process, they are going to need to submit the signed and dated notary application. Now if someone was not yet eighteen years old when they submitted the application, they might risk having that application returned to them by the Secretary of State for resubmission after turning eighteen.

Obviously you already know that a notary applicant is going to be required to complete a notary course, which is been approved by the California Secretary of State. There are six hour courses and three-hour courses. All first-time California notary applicants or applicants whose commissions have expired must complete the six-hour course. However, if you're your commission is still current, you can choose to take either the full six-hour course or a three hour refresher course. Everyone who completes either the three-hour course or the six-hour course is going to be given a Proof of Completion at the end of that course, and that Proof of Completion needs to be submitted along with the notary application.

It is important for me to restate here that any notary whose commission has either expired, or will expire before taking and passing the exam is going to be required to complete the six hour course even if they have already previously completed the three hour course. The three-hour course is only valid if the notary applicant takes the class and passes the examination before their current commission expires. The notary course Proof of Completion is going to be valid for a period of two years, but the exam results are only valid for one year.

Let me reiterate this because it's so important. If your current commission has expired or will expire before you submit a new application for recommission, then you must take the six-hour course because your eligibility to take a three hour refresher course will have lapsed. If you take the three-hour course and you're not eligible for that course, your application is going to be sent back to you along with that Proof of Completion and then you'll be required to take the full six-hour course. Some notaries choose to take the full six-hour class in the middle of their current commission which is a very good way to stay abreast of new laws or just as a refresher.

So, if you've taken a six-hour class within two years of applying for your reappointment,  since the notary course is valid for two years, that course satisfies the three hour refresher course requirement. Don't forget to keep the Proof of Completion for that course so you can submit it to the California Secretary of State when it does come time to renew your commission. Remember, the class is good for two years, so you can take your notary course up to two years in advance of your commission expiration date, but  the exam is only valid for one year. You'll need to wait until at least one year before your current commission expires to take your notary exam.

If you're recommissioning as a California notary public, then you have already taken a notary exam sometime in the past and you know that each commissioning term requires another notary exam. Now if this is your first commission, you need to know that once you’ve  completed the notary course, whether it's in a live classroom setting or online course or downloadable home-study course, you'll need to take the exam and pass it with a score of 70% or greater before your application will be considered by the Secretary of State.

If you take the exam and don't pass, your application is going to be returned to you along with a notification that you’ll need to retake the exam. In the event that you don't pass the exam, you will need to wait at least until the next calendar month. This is because the test will be a different version every calendar month. There are thirty questions on the exam which are multiple choice and you'll be given a total of fifty minutes to complete those thirty questions on the exam. The exam is closed-book and must be taken at a testing location proctored by the Cooperative Personnel Services. You will also need to bring a number two pencil and a valid photo identification to the testing site. You will need to have either a current driver's license or a current passport. If your driver’s license is expired or you've had a name change and the license doesn't yet reflect that name change, you will need a valid passport with the correct name. By the way, a temporary license printed on paper that does not include your photo is not going to be accepted. Remember, if you are not a U.S. citizen you going to also need to include your alien registration number on your notary application. We will be providing some more information about the exam towards the end of this course.

Every notary applicant is going to need to submit fingerprints so that a criminal history background check can be done.  It is not going to matter if you've already had a background check for any other reason. In order to complete the notary application process in California, you are going be required to have a new set of fingerprints submitted. Keep in mind, you have one year after the date of your exam to submit your fingerprints. Fingerprints may be taken with a live scan company, or you might find a local law enforcement agency to provide that service. At the time you scan your prints, the live-scan provider is going to give you the form which provides evidence that you completed that live scan. Hold onto the form in case you need the reference number later.

The person that does your live scan is automatically going to send your prints by computer to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice is going to run a California background criminal check and then they are going to forward those digital live scan prints to the FBI for their own criminal background investigation and that will be done nationwide. It's important to get your live scan completed as soon as possible. Yes, you have up to a year after your exam because remember, your exam results are valid for one year, but it really is important to get that live scan completed as soon as possible because the commissioning process will not complete until the background results  are in and that usually takes quite a few weeks.

Now as I said, it usually takes several weeks for a background check to be completed,  sometimes longer if there are questions or clarifications that need be made. Once the background results are in, both the DOJ and the FBI are going to forward those results to the California Secretary of State. This is important to know because if your commission is taking significantly longer than you anticipated, one reason might be that the California Secretary of State hasn't yet received the results of the fingerprint investigations from either the DOJ or the FBI. I strongly urge you to complete your fingerprints as close to the date of your examination as possible, if getting your commission quickly is important to you.

The background check is of course needed in order to find any convictions of a disqualifying crime because the Secretary of State will recommend denial of  the commission if you been convicted of a disqualifying crime. Now, if you know in advance that you have a criminal arrest or conviction in your background, you are probably already wondering whether or not that conviction could disqualify your notary application. You can find the guidelines of the Secretary of State uses to determine whether or not a particular conviction will be a disqualification by visiting the Secretary of State's website. By the way, this is a very good website have just for general notary purposes in California so you really should note the site down sometime during our class. It is www. . 

Of course, as we’ve already discovered,  you need to complete and submit an application to become a notary public in California to the California Secretary of State and that's done for each of the four year commission terms. You can also download a notary application from the  California Secretary of State website that we just give you or you can find a link on as well.  If you take the live seminar, we will have the application there for you. 

When you complete your application, you are going to need to list any arrests or convictions that you might have had on that application. Don’t  omit any convictions,  arrests which are pending trial or even convictions which may have been expunged. The normal run-of-the-mill traffic ticket convictions  do not need to be listed, but DUIs and other more serious traffic violations that resulted in a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony must be disclosed. If  you have something in your background and you're not sure whether to list it or not, the rule of thumb is that it is better to be safe and list it in order to avoid a denial on your application based on your omission. If you don't disclose convictions or arrests for which a trial is pending, it may be cause for the denial of your commission. I can't overstate the importance of accurately completing your notary application. Don’t omit any detail, especially regarding your criminal history. If you don't know or don't remember the exact dates or details, put as much information as you can remember so that Secretary of State can reference information when they compare to the DOJ and FBI results.

Well now you know about the live scan requirements and you know about the notary application, so let’s move our attention to the notary commission itself.