notary stamper

Notary Renewal, California-Style


After three years of notary service for the state of California, you've got the hang of the job, but every time you stamp a document, your expiration date jumps up at you. The date creeps closer and closer, but you're not sure exactly how to get your first notary commission renewal in California. Or maybe you just dread the unknowns. How much time will it take? What's it going to cost?

As with many things, information is the key to unlocking the door to the future and leaving your procrastination behind. California's process for renewing notary commissions is pain-free and is even easier if you start a few months in advance of your expiration date by completing your training.

Update Your Training

You'll want to start the renewal process about four to six months before your current commission expires by completing an approved three-hour training seminar. The purpose of this inexpensive training is to keep you informed concerning California's laws and regulations that directly affect notaries.

There are three options for where and how to get your training.

  • The first option is live classes. You may register and attend a live seminar. Pro: Face-to-face interaction with trainer and fellow notaries. Cons: Transportation to and from class requires extra time and cost. Also, you'll be restricted to when and where the class is offered.
  • A second option is to order the class on DVD. Pros: Your study time flexes to meet your personal schedule and you save the time and money you would need to dedicate to travel in option one. Con: DVDs lack interaction and guidance.
  • Finally, you may take the class online. Pros: An online class offers the flexibility to study and take quizzes as your schedule allows, eliminating the concerns of travel and scheduling involved in classroom scenarios. Your progress is monitored as you proceed through six different sections of the training. Con: You must be self-motivated, as nobody will be prompting you to take action.

Pass the State Exam

Once you've successfully completed your training, register for and take the state exam. Score at least a 70% on it before the expiration date of your current commission. This is where procrastination can come back to haunt you. If you don't pass the exam before your current expiration date, you'll have to complete a total of six hours of training rather than only three.

Be prepared when you go take your state exam. You'll need:

  • Proof of satisfactory course completion
  • $40 check or money order made payable to the Secretary of State
  • A 2" x 2" color passport photo
  • Your completed Notary Public application form
  • A current photo identification
  • Your registration confirmation letter

You should be notified within 15 business days whether or not you passed the exam. We expect that you won't have a problem passing. However, in the event that you don't score over 70, you will receive a re-take voucher and may try again. You may only take the exam once per month.

Submit Fingerprints

Once you've passed your exam, you'll need to submit fingerprints via Live Scan for your background check by the California Department of Justice and the FBI. This is required by law for each commission term.

When you receive your commission papers, you'll be ready to order your updated supplies and file your bond with the county clerk.

Order Your Supplies

You will need to order your Notary Public stamp and journal and obtain your bond. The stamp must be bought through a California Secretary of State-approved manufacturer. Also, you may want to consider (or reconsider) Errors and Omissions (E & O) insurance. E & O provides a safety net in case of any errors in your notary work. Because of the serious legal ramifications, errors may be costly, so while it's not required, insurance is definitely a worthy consideration.

Contact us today to get your training before your current commission expires.

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