How to Renew Your California Notary Commission

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How to Renew Your California Notary Commission

If you’re nearing the end of your notary commission and want to continue acting as a notary public, follow these eight easy steps for notary commission renewal in California. Be sure to begin the renewal process early to give yourself ample time, and to avoid the extra hassles associated with late renewal.

Step 1: Take the Course

You’ll need to complete a state-approved educational course — this is a California Secretary of State requirement for all new and renewing notaries public. Courses are available in 6-hour and 3-hour formats. In order to take the 3-hour course, you must apply for reappointment before your current commission expires.

Step 2: Register for the State Exam

The California State Notary Exam is administered by CPS (Cooperative Personal Services). You can register for the exam on their website, or by calling (916) 263-3520.

Step 3: Fill Out an Application

The reappointment application form is available on the California Secretary of State’s website. Download and complete the form, and then remember to bring it with you when you take the state exam. Be aware that incomplete application forms can be rejected and thereby delay the renewal process.

Step 4: Take the Exam

Go to the testing site which was designated when you registered for the exam with CPS. To take the exam, you’ll need these supplies:

  • A number 2 lead pencil. We recommend you bring a spare.
  • Your completed California Notary application.
  • Your certificate of completion for the educational course.
  • A 2x2 color passport photo.
  • An acceptable photo ID that is current, which includes a description of your identification (a passport does not include this necessary information).
  • Your checkbook or a money order. The proctors do not accept cash or credit cards. Make the check or money order payable to the Secretary of State. The amount due is $40.00.

Step 5: Pass the Exam

The exam consists of 30 questions, and you’ll have 50 minutes to complete it. You must answer at least 70% correct in order to pass the exam. It is not an open book exam. Your exam results should arrive in your mailbox within 10 - 14 business days after you take the exam, and will be mailed by CPS (Cooperative Personal Services).

Step 6: Submit Your Fingerprints

While you’re waiting to receive your exam results, you can submit your fingerprints via LiveScan to the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) per the instructions on this form. Although you already submitted fingerprints when you first got your commission, this requirement still applies to renewing notaries. It will take 6 - 8 weeks for your background check results to come back.

Step 7: Purchase Your Supplies

After you’ve received your commission package in the mail, you need to purchase your notary supplies. You only have 30 days to do this, so don't let any time lapse, and get it taken care of as soon as possible. The supplies needed include:

  • A Notary Surety Bond in the amount of $15,000.00
  • Your New Notary Seal
  • Your New Notary Journal

Step 8: Take the Oath of Office

Once you’ve purchased all your supplies, you need to go to the County Clerk's office in the county where your principal place of business is located. You’ll then take the Notary Oath of Office and file your Notary Surety Bond with the county clerk. Remember — you only have 30 days to complete this.

Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, you’ll be able to continue performing your duties as a Notary Public under your renewed commission. Click here to download a free printable PDF checklist outlining the renewal process.

CA Notary Renewal Infographic