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
First, I want to mention that
the notary receives their appointment by the California Secretary of State.
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
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.. 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.
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.
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
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 are 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
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.
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 gave you or you can find a link on notaryclasses.com 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.