Become a California Notary

Abbreviation: CA   |   31st State   |   Statehood: September 9, 1850 |
To become a California notary public, a person must meet all of the requirements listed below:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a legal resident of the State of California
  • Complete a six-hour course of study approved by the Secretary of State
  • Pass a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State with a score of at least 70%
  • Pass a background check by the FBI and the California Department of Justice
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude
In order to receive a California notary public commission, a person must:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements
  • Properly complete and submit a notary application form to the Secretary of State with a filing fee of $40.00, which includes the exam and application processing fee, attach a 2 x 2 color passport photo of the applicant to the back of the completed application form, and attach the Proof of Completion Certificate. Click here to download the application form.
  • Once the commission has been issued, and within 30 calendar days from the beginning of the term prescribed in the commission, the notary must file an oath of office and a $15,000 surety bond with the county clerk where he or she maintains a principal place of business. If the oath and bond are not filed within the 30-calendar-day time period, the commission will not be valid. There are no exceptions to the 30-day filing requirement.
Non-Resident California Notary:
Not permitted.
California Notary Bond:
Required. A notary bond in the amount of $15,000 is required for new and renewing notaries.
Notary Errors & Omissions Insurance:
Optional. A notary public is liable to any person for damages that result from his or her official misconduct. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that California notaries public insure themselves against claims of negligence through the purchase of Notary Errors and Omissions insurance.
Filing Fee:
A $40 filing fee is required for new and renewal notary applications.
California Notary Term:
Four years.
Office of Secretary of State
Business Programs Division, Notary Public Section,
PO Box 942877,
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
(916) 653-3595
Notary Commission Renewal:
A notary public may apply 30 days before the expiration of the current commission by completing a renewal application form and by completing the approved three-hour refresher course prior to reappointment as a notary public.
Required. Every notary must satisfactorily complete a six-hour course approved by the Secretary of State prior to appointment. After completing the approved six-hour course, the vendor will issue a Proof of Completion Certificate that will be valid for two years from the date of issuance. After receiving the Proof of Completion Certificate, the applicant registers for an exam by contacting Cooperative Personnel Service (CPS). The written examination must be passed with a score of at least 70%.
California Notary Stamp/Notary Seal:

Type – embosser or rubber-inked stamp

Ink color – any color as long as the seal can be reproduced under photographic methods

Shape – round or rectangular

Dimensions – circular form of not more than 2” in diameter, or, if rectangular form, 1 inch in width by 2 ˝ inches in length

Required elements - California state seal, name of notary public, commission expiration date, name of county where oath and bond are on file, commission number, identification number assigned to the manufacturer or vendor, and the words “Notary Public.” The seal must have a serrated or milled edge border. The notary seal must be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary, and must not be surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment. When the notary public commission is no longer valid, the notary seal must be destroyed.

Record Book:
Required. A notary public must maintain one active sequential journal for all notarial acts performed. The journal must be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary. If the journal is stolen, lost, misplaced, destroyed, or damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable as a record, the notary shall immediately notify the Secretary of State by certified or registered mail. Such notice must include the periods of journal entries, the notary’s commission number, the commission expiration date, and a police report, if applicable. A notary must surrender his notary journal immediately when requested to do so by a peace officer investigating a criminal offense if the officer shows probable cause as required by law. A peace officer or law enforcement agency that seizes a notary journal must notify the Secretary of State by facsimile within 24 hours. A power of attorney document is added to the list of documents that requires a thumbprint in the journal. Upon receipt of a request for information from a notary’s journal, the notary must provide such information within 15 business days. For California notary supplies, contact the American Association of Notaries by calling 800.721.2663 or visiting our website at

Note: Effective January 1, 2013, notaries public are required to obtain a fingerprint of the document signer in the notary’s journal for all notarizations involving documents pertaining to real property. Furthermore, a subscribing witness may not be used for any instrument affecting real property.

Notary Fees:
Notary fees are set by state law. A notary public is allowed to charge for each notarial act, but not more than:

  • Acknowledgments - $10.00
  • Jurats - $10.00
  • Oaths or affirmations - $10.00
  • Copy certifications - $10.00
  • Protests - $10.00
  • Depositions - $20.00
    + $5 for administering an oath to the witness
    + $5 for notarizing a certificate to the deposition

Note: No fees are allowed for absentee ballots, forms relating to insurance, pensions, claims, allotment, compensation, or other benefits for military veterans. Notaries are permitted to charge a fee for travel and for other services such as copies etc.,provided that the signer agrees in advance to the added fees, which will be separate from the fees charged for the notarial acts.

A California notary has the authority to:

  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Perform jurats
  • Take depositions
  • Protest instruments
  • Certify a copy of a power of attorney
  • Certify copies of non-recordable documents
Electronic Notarization:
The Secretary of State has not enacted/adopted statutes, rules, and/or procedures for electronic notarizations. However, California has adopted the Uniform Transactions Act (CC 1633.1 through 1633.17), which recognizes the legal validity of electronic signatures used by notaries. As of January 1, 2016, the enacted CA AB 432 adds to the definition of “signature” in the California Code of Civil Procedure that a signature may be an electronic signature or a signature affixed by mark. California notaries are allowed to perform electronic notarizations as long as all the requirements for a traditional paper-based notarial act are met.
Address Change:
Required. The Secretary of State must be notified of any changes in a business or residence address by certified mail within 30 days of the change. An address notification must include the notary’s commission name, commission number, commission expiration date, and new address. If a notary transfers to a new county, the notary must file an oath, take the original or copy of the bond, and send a letter to the Secretary of State requesting a certificate of authorization to manufacture a notary seal for the new county. A notary public who willfully fails to notify the Secretary of State of a change of address within 30 days of the change on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State may be subject to a fine of not more than $500. Click here to download the change of address form.
Name Change:
Required. A change in name requires a notary to complete an Application for Name Change form that must be sent by certified mail to the Secretary of State within 30 days of the change. Within 30 days after the amended commission is issued, the notary must file, with the county clerk, a new oath of office and an amendment to the bond containing the amended name. If the notary fails to file the amended oath and bond within the 30-day time limit, the name change will become void and the commission will revert back to the previous name and a new name change application will have to be submitted. A notary public who willfully fails to notify the Secretary of State of a change of name within 30 days of the change on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State may be subject to a fine of not more than $500. Click here to download the name change form.
A notary or notary’s representative must provide the Secretary of State a written notification when the notary’s commission is revoked or expired, when the notary resigns, or in the case of the death of a notary. A notary or notary’s representative must deliver all of the notarial records and papers to the clerk of the county where the oath of office is on file within 30 days, and the seal must be destroyed.
Prohibited Acts:
A notary public may not:

  • Prepare, draft, select, or give advice concerning legal documents
  • Perform acts that constitute the practice of law
  • Use the phrase “notario” or “notario publico” to advertise notary services
  • Advertise or promote himself/herself as an immigration specialist or consultant
  • Overcharge fees for notary services
  • Notarize a document without the signer being present at the time of the notarization
  • Authorize a confidential marriage unless the notary is approved by the county clerk
  • Notarize a signature on a document unless the signer’s identity has been established by satisfactory evidence
  • Attest to the trueness of a photocopy of a recordable document
  • Sign under any other name than his/her commission name
  • Notarize a document that is incomplete
  • Sign a notarial certificate that contains false statements
  • Notarize a document in which the notary has a financial or beneficial interest or is named as a party to the transaction
  • Use the title “Notary Public” or the official seal, except for the execution of a lawful notarial act
  • Affix his/her notary signature and seal to an incomplete notarial certificate
  • Use an interpreter to communicate with a document signer in the performance of a notarial act
  • Refuse to notarize in any lawful transaction upon payment of the fees allowed by law, whether or not the signer is a customer
  • Fail to administer an oath or affirmation when such is required by law
  • Notarize his/her own signature
Criminal Offense:
A notary public may be subject to a civil or criminal penalty in the following circumstances:

  • No acknowledgment may be taken or jurat executed on the basis of personal knowledge alone. A notary who violates this law may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
  • The certificate of acknowledgment must be executed under penalty of perjury. A notary who willfully states as true any material fact known to be false can be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
  • Willful failure of a notary to surrender his notary journal to a peace officer may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,500.
  • A notary who fails to notify the Secretary of State of a change of address or a name change may be subject to a fine of up to $500.
  • A notary who fails to obtain a thumbprint as required by Government Code Section 8206 may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,500.
  • A notary who knowingly and willfully with intent to defraud performs any notarial act in relation to a deed of trust on real property with knowledge that the deed of trust contains any false statement or is forged, in whole or in part, is guilty of a felony.
  • A notary is guilty of a misdemeanor if he willfully fails to properly maintain a notary journal.
  • A notary is guilty of a misdemeanor if the notary fails to permit a lawful inspection or copying of the journal as required by law.
  • A notary is guilty of a misdemeanor if he fails to keep his seal under lock and key or willfully surrenders the seal to any person not authorized to possess it.
  • A notary’s who willfully fails to deliver his notarial records to the county clerk within the 30-day period after the commission has been revoked, or the notary resigns, or the commission expires may be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • A notary’s willful failure to discharge fully and faithfully any duties or responsibilities is punishable by a civil fine not to exceed $1,500.
Notarial Certificates:
Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.

Note: Effective January 1, 2015, California notaries must add a legible notice enclosed in a box at the top of each notarial certificate to be completed.

Senate Bill 1050 was passed on August 15, 2014 and amended Sections 1189 and 1195 of the Civil Code and Section 8202 of the Government Code, which now requires that this special notice enclosed in a box be added to notarial certificates:

"A notary public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document.”

Revised: February 2016

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