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You are here if you are getting ready, or need to, take the California notary exam.
I am here to tell you that after waiting for my results, I am pleased to announce that I PASSED THE EXAM!
I cannot tell you how excited I am about that. And this is why I want to share with you the easy steps before taking the CA notary exam. If you go to the Secretary of State website, there are so many steps it’s a little overwhelming.
So please don’t reinvent the wheel. I’ll share what I have done up to this point and what is to follow.
A quick reminder – I live in CA, and the following is for my state. If you live in a different state, you might not need to take an exam, but make sure you verify what is required as it will be different.
If you want more information on the steps and cost of getting a notary, click here.
Before the exam
You must complete a few things before thinking about taking the state exam.
If you have done any research, you might feel overwhelmed by the process. I hope you can follow along and see it’s not that difficult.
More than anything, you need to be patient, as it will take time.
Take the required training
Find and pay for the six-hour required notary training.
This is also the time to sign up for the California notary exam. The first available date was three weeks away when I looked it up!
Using this tip will save you weeks.
After all, you still need to complete the training. If you sign up for the exam, you will be forced to complete it in a timely fashion.
Keep in mind, some of the training classes (maybe all of them) require you to pass their exam. Do not confuse this with the California exam (which you must take in-person).
The nice part was that I passed it on the first try. I do think it repaired me for the state exam.
I would also suggest reading the notary public handbook (make sure you choose the most current version).
Take the state exam
Here is a link for a reminder of what to bring with you to the exam.
As for what I needed to bring with me, the items are as follows:
- Photo ID (two examples would include your current driver’s license or passport)
- The filled-out notary public application
- Passport color photograph
- Proof of completion certificate (this is the 6-hour training you took)
- Exam fee
- Two No. 2 sharpened pencils
You should also verify what to bring to your exam, click here. When I took the state exam, I was required to wear a face mask.
Side note, it’s crucial to make sure you have everything you need. Here are two examples for you that I noticed.
Two people were turned away from even starting the test:
- One student didn’t have a check for the exam fee, only cash.
- Another student didn’t have a face mask.
I have noticed that notary publics should always read what is required. If you think about it, it’s part of your duty. You will be required to know the laws and what is expected of you.
I assume the two above students didn’t read what was required. Unfortunately, that was their fault, and the result was to retake the exam (before it even started).
After the exam
As I mentioned above, the proctor will advise when results will be available. A good rule of thumb is to plan for at least two weeks. I waited 15 business days to get my results.
During this time, it’s up to you what to do.
Because of my background, I want to know the law and rules. I decided to pay for a few additional training to become the best notary I can be.
After your test is scored, you will receive an email, which will advise if you passed your exam or not.
If you passed, CONGRATULATIONS!
The email will provide you with the next steps. In a nutshell, this is when you will need to get your fingerprints taken (for the background check).
After your LiveScan fingerprints, you will have yet another waiting period. This is when the state will complete a background check.
Another reason why I suggest you make sure you meet the minimum requirements from my previous post.
When you start to think you will not hear back, you will receive a packet in your mailbox.
This will be your commission packet.
I remember being so excited because now you are only a few more steps away to start calling yourself a notary!
Now is the time to purchase your official notary bond, Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance, and order your notary supplies.
There are many places to purchase your bond and E&O insurance. You will probably get lots of mail with different offers too.
I’m not affiliated with any insurance company, but there was one that stood out to me. I suggest you read what you can and choose the one that works best for you.
This is when you start to feel like you are really at the end of the journey to getting your notary commission.
Ordering supplies can seem like a never-ending task. I will share what I purchased. You can order a lot of it from Amazon, but I also went to my local business stores to get what I could.
- Notary seal stamp – This is the one I got (order this after your get your commission in the mail, a certificate of authorization to manufacturer the stamp will be included. You will need to send this to who you have made your stamp).
- Notary journal
- Thumbprint pad
- Blue pens
- Black pens
The only other thing is to print out about 25 Acknowledgements and Jurats. I live in California, so specific wording must be included.
A few other things you can purchase if you want. I got a few of them but am planning to see if I will need anything once I start completing signings.
Some suggestions include:
- Two-inch binder clips
- File folder that can hold legal-sized paper
- A bag to carry everything in
- Reams of paper (I am doing loan signings, so I have both legal and letter-sized paper)
- Laser printer (only if you think you will be doing loan signings)
I’ll be the first to congratulate you on coming this far.
There has been a lot that you have accomplished up to this point. But, there is something else you still need to complete.
I had to file my commission certificate and notary bond with my county recorder in my state.
This step is straightforward as you have already done all the hard stuff.
I would suggest you go online to your county recorder and see what is required from you.
All I needed was a check (to pay the fees), my complete commission packet, bond, and a few other items.
When you receive your commission packet, they include many things you need to bring with you. Please read it carefully and go file everything!
There you have it. Once you complete all this, you will become a notary public.
I hope this has clarified what you need to do, at least for those of you living in California.
If you have any additional questions, please let me know in the comments below. I will respond to everyone.
Otherwise, you did it!
The direction of this website
In the next few posts, I plan on writing reviews on the additional training that I have done.
There is also an app that I just downloaded. I’m going to wait to review it, but if you are interested, let me know.
And last, I am in the process of creating a business as well. I have a few reasons for this but will be sharing what I’m doing as I go along.
If you found this helpful, please let me know. I want to make this a resource I can share with others to not be overwhelmed about the process.
Again, from what I could find, California is one of the more prolonged process states. If you are in a different state, I hope the process is more straightforward.
Good luck in your journey, and I look forward to hearing from you.