How to Become a Notary Loan Signing Agent in California? (Step-By-Step Guide)


Notary Loan Signing Agent Career

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How to become a notary loan signing agent in California? To become a notary loan signing agent in California, you need to submit the application to the California Secretary of State, complete the required 6 hours course, pass the notary exam, pay the filing fee, purchase the notary seal and journal. 

So what does a loan signing agent do in California? When people are getting a mortgage to purchase a house, or they need to refinance their property, there will be loan documents involved. Your role as a notary loan signing agent is to walk through the set of loan documents with the borrower and witness them in signing the paperwork. 

You would also need to verify the identity of the signers, place the notary stamp on the signed documents, then send them back to the escrow company. 

But keep in mind that you should NOT be providing legal advice, and you cannot explain the terms of the loan documents to the borrower.  

In this guide, you’ll find the steps to become a notary loan signing agent in California, income updates. What does it take to work in this profession? And other helpful details about this career. 

Note that this guide is for general information only and not to provide any professional advice. Although I’ve tried to put down info as accurate as I could possibly find, you should always refer back to the California Notary Commission and the State law. 

So now I have got this off my chest, let’s explore the notary loan signing career in California.

9 Steps to Become a Notary Loan Signing Agent in California

9 Steps to Become a Notary Loan Signing Agent in California

Step 1: Meet the basic requirement

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Legal resident of California
  • Able to read and write English

Step 2: Complete the required education

You need to complete a 6 hours notary course that is approved by the California Secretary of State. Here’s a list of approved education providers. 

The objective of this education is to provide you with a full understanding of the responsibilities, duties, and professional standards of a notary public. Help to reduce complaints and lawsuits due to negligence or misconduct by a notary public.

Once you complete the notary course, you’ll receive a Proof of Completion certificate. It will be needed to register for exam writing.

Keep in mind that the Completion certificate is only good for two years from the issue date.

Step 3: Complete the Notary Public Application

notary public application California

You need to fill out the form #SOS/NP-30. The questions on the application are pretty strict forward—for example, your name, business address, background info. 

Note that you should only sign with your official signature. All details should be typed or printed legibly in blue or black ink. 

There is a $20 application fee. 

Step 4: Pass the California Notary Exam

How to register the CA notary exam?

CPS HR Consulting is the organization that administers the exam. To register for it, you could do so either by phone (916) 263-3520) or online. But make sure to register at least 15 days before the exam. 

California Notary Exam Registration

When you register by phone, you’ll need to provide them with your name, phone number, email address, mailing address, examination date, time, and location. You could check out the availability of their exam schedule here.

You could call their office from Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm.

There is an exam fee of $20. The payment must be either a check or money order made payable to the Secretary of State. They won’t accept cash.

On the date of the exam, make sure you bring along the completed Notary Public Application and Proof of Course Completion Certificate. You should also staple a 2″ x 2″ color passport photo onto the application.

What is the format of the CA notary exam?

California notary exam writing

This is a closed-book exam with multiple-choice questions. The notary exam consists of 45 items, and you’ll have 60 minutes to write it. 

The required passing score is 70. Rather than grading the test with a percent score, a scaled score will be used, which is a transformation of a raw score.

One way to prepare for the exam is to read over the California Notary Public Handbook. You can find its link in the reference section at the end of this post. 

How will I know the result of my exam?

The result will be available 15 days after you write the exam. If you provided your email address on the application, then they will notify you of the result. It will be sent from [email protected]

But make sure to check your junk folder, sometimes, emails could falsely get filtered into it. If you did not provide them with your email address, then they will just mail it to your home.

Alternatively, you could also login to “My Account” at the CPS website to view the result.

The result is only valid for one year. In case the exam is failed, you can retake it, but you cannot do so in the same calendar month.

Step 5: Perform a Background Check

California Notary Application Background Check and Fingerprints

After you pass the exam, you’ll need to submit fingerprints through Live Scan. You must do so within one year of the exam date. This procedure is to identify any criminal history.

Here’s the Live Scan Service Request form. You’ll provide the electronic fingers at one of the Live Scan’s locations

It would take the California Department of Justice approximately four weeks of processing time. The processing fee is around $50.

Step 6: Receive the notary public commission packet

California notary public commission packet

Once everything is in good standing, you will receive the notary public commission packet. It will include:

  • a cover letter;
  • filing instructions;
  • two Notary Public Oath and Certificate of Filing forms;
  • a notary public commission certificate;
  • a Certificate of Authorization to Manufacture Notary Public Seals; 
  • a list of Authorized Manufacturers of Notary Public Seals.

After the California Notary Commission receives your application, it typically takes them 3-4 weeks of processing them.

After you receive the certificate, it’s better to review and make sure all the details are correct. (e.g., your name, county of residence, commission dates).

Step 7: Purchase a surety bond

The California Secretary of State requires you to purchase a $15,000 surety bond. You must get it from a licensed surety such as a notary bonding company, an insurance company, or a notary organization. You could search for them online.

Note that the surety bond is to protect those for whom the notary public performs a notarization, but not you as a notary public.

If you need coverage for your professional services, you should consider getting an Error & Omission insurance (E&O).

Step 8: File Notary Public Oath & Bond

File California public oath and bond

The notary commission is not valid until you file the oath and surety bond with the county clerk’s office. You need to do so within 30 calendar days from the time that the commission term is prescribed. Also, it must be filed at the county that you are living in.

Although you could mail in the required documents, it is better to submit them in person. This could assure that it would be processed in a timely manner.

Step 9: Get the notary business supplies

To start the notary loan signing business, you’ll need have a seal. Although you may use an embosser, (also referred to as a crimper), you must do so in together with a rubber stamp notary seal.

The legal requirements for a seal are shown below. (Government Code section 8207) The seal must:

• Be photographically reproducible when affixed to a document; • Contain the State Seal and the words “Notary Public”;

• Contain the name of the notary public as shown on the commission;

• Contain the name of the county where the oath of office and notary public bond are on file;

• Contain the expiration date of the notary public’s commission;

• Contain the sequential identification number (commission number) assigned to the notary public, as well as the identification number assigned to the seal manufacturer or vendor; and

• Be circular not over two inches in diameter, or be a rectangular form of not more than one inch in width by two and one-half inches in length, with a serrated or milled edged border.

Quote from California Notary Public Handbook
California Notary Public Business Journal

As for the journal, I find it surprising that it must be in a paper format. (Well, at least at the time I am writing this post.). It’s better to use a permanently bound journal because their pages are more difficult to remove or lose than loose-leaf pages.

You may find it at stationery, office supply stores, or through notary organizations.

The journal is an essential part of good business practice. It acts as proof that you have taken reasonable steps to identify the signer of a document. You should record the list notarial acts in chronological order.

In your notary journal, it is better to take note of:

  • When was the date of the notarial act?
  • What had been done?
  • What are the documents involved?
  • Who is the person whose signature was notarized, and what is their address?
  • The list of fees received
  • A note section where you could add personal annotations

You must keep both the seal and journal in a locked and secured area, where only you have direct and exclusive control of it. (e.g. a locked drawer or cabinet.)

Would you like to learn how to make $75 to $200 per signing appointment? Check out this loan signing training program from Mark Wills. (**) He is one of the highest producing notary loan signing agents in the country.

How much can you make as a notary signing agent in California?

How much can you make as a notary signing agent in California?

The average Notary Signing Agent salary in California is $41,733. It typically falls between the range $40,770 and $53,084. (+)

(+) Source: Salary.com – February 26, 2020

Can you make over $10,000/month as a notary loan signing agent? Be sure to check out our notary earning guide. You’ll find a case study where a loan signing agent has built her business to such a successful figure.

Is there demand for notary loan signing agent in California?

As long as people are obtaining mortgages or refinancing their homes, there would be a demand for notary loan signing agents in California.

All originated mortgages in California

YEARRECORDS
2017877,753
20161,172,541
2015993,335
2014750,422
20131,153,965
20121,391,720
2011917,070
2010980,348
2009972,974
2008672,822
20071,233,502

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) (March 18, 2020)

Furthermore, some states are “Attorney states,” which means only an attorney can handle the closing paperwork. Whereas, others are “Escrow States” where a loan signing agent can do the work.

According to the First American Title, California is a not an “Attorney State,” which is good news if you are interested in starting a notary loan signing business.   

What education do you need to become a California notary public?

To become a notary public in California, you’ll need to complete a 6 hours notary course from an approved education provider.

But a good place to learn about this profession is by reading the California Notary Public Handbook. It is a 55 pages guide published by the Secretary of State.

In addition to the above topics, this handout also covers Government Code, Civil Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Elections Code Commercial Code, Probate Code, Penal Code, Business and Professions Code.

I’ll leave a link of this handbook in the reference section at the end of this post.

Is there a exam to become a notary in California?

Yes, there is a closed-book, multiple-choice exams to become a notary public in California. The notary exam consists of 45 items, and you’ll have 60 minutes to write it. The required passing score is 70.

How much does it cost to become a notary in California?

How much does it cost to become a notary in California?

It would cost approximately $265 to become a notary in California.

Here’s the breakdown: 

  • Surety bond – $50
  • CA notary application filing fee – $20
  • Notary exam fee – $20
  • Fingerprint processing fee – $49
  • Professional stamp- $40
  • Notary Seal Embosser – $36
  • Notary Journal – $50

There could be other expenses involved, such as E&O insurance, travel expenses, and other business supplies.

How long does it take to become a notary signing agent in California?

How long does it take to become a notary signing agent in California?

After you took the 6 hours notary course, you need to register at least 15 days prior to writing the exam. Then the exam result will be available in roughly 15 days.

The background check would take another four weeks. So it would take approximately two months to become a notary loan signing agent in California.

Can a felon be a notary loan signing agent in California?

Having a conviction for a felony may impact the application to become a notary loan signing agent in California. The California Secretary of State needs to make sure that you are a person with credibility, truthfulness, and integrity to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

The Secretary of State will recommend denial of an application for the following reasons:

– Failure to disclose any arrest or conviction;

– Conviction of a felony where not less than 10 years have passed since the completion of probation;

– Conviction of a disqualifying misdemeanor where not less than 5 years have passed since the completion of probation; or

– A determination that the facts of a particular case warrant denial, such as the nature and severity of the act or the presence of aggravating factors.

Quote from California Secretary of State – Notary Public

On the application, there are questions about any felony record or professional misconduct in the Background Information section. Also, you are required to submit fingerprints for a background check.

California Secretary of State
Notary Public Application

Having a felony does not necessarily mean your application will automatically be declined. It depends on the severity and nature of the conviction. The Secretary of State would review it on a case-by-case basis. 

You may check out the Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines. It lists out what are their consideration factors, types of violations, and recommended actions. 

In addition, if you have any concerns about disclosing the convictions or arrests, you can contact the Secretary of State’s office before sending the application. 

How to renew notary in California?

You need to renew the notary commission every four years. Similar requirements (e.g., passing the exam, submission application) discussed above would apply.

To avoid an interrupted business period, it’s better to take the notary public exam at least six months before your current notary commission is expired.

Also, every two years, you’ll need to complete a three-hour refresher course.

Can I notarize for a family member in California?

You must not notarize any documents where you have any financial or beneficial interest in the transaction. Therefore, notarizing a document for any family member could call into question, and such practice should be avoided.

I have more questions about being a notary loan signing agent in California, where could I obtain more details?

You may contact the California Notary Public Office:

  • Mailing Address: Notary Public Section P.O. Box 942877, Sacramento, CA 94277–0001
  • Phone: (916) 653-3595

They also have an online contact form.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change without any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free.

(**) Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. Our website, RealEstateCareerHQ.com, will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking on the link. Please understand that we include them based on our experience or the research on these companies or products, and we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something through the links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Reference:

  • First American Title- Your Guide to Real Estate Customs by State (Source
  • California Secretary of State – Notary Public (Source)
  • California Notary Public Handbook (Source)
  • CPS HR Consulting – Exam Registration (Source)
  • CPS Notary Public Examination Services – Testing Information (Source)
  • Salary.com – Notary Signing Agent Salary in California (Source)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) (Source)
  • SuretyBonds.com – California Notary Public Bond (Source)
  • State of California Department of Justice – Applicant Fingerprint Processing Fee (Source)

Jacob Coleman

Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

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