Every person appointed as a notary public shall:
- be 18 years of age or older (there is no maximum age set by statute)
- be a legal California resident
- complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State
- satisfactorily complete and pass a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State
- clear a background check
Applicants found to be non-compliant with child or family support orders will be issued temporary term notary public commissions. Notaries public found to be non-compliant after the notary public commission is issued may be subject to commission suspension or revocation. (Family Code section 17520.)
State law requires all applicants be fingerprinted as part of a background check prior to being granted an appointment as a notary public. Information concerning the fingerprinting requirement will be mailed to applicants who pass the examination.
All applicants are required to disclose on their application any arrests for which trial is pending and all convictions. Convictions dismissed under Penal Code section 1203.4 or 1203.4a must be disclosed. If you have any questions concerning the disclosure of convictions or arrests, contact the Secretary of State prior to signing the application.
For specifics about your arrest(s) and or conviction(s), please contact the California Department of Justice at (916) 227-3849.
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.
For additional information, please review the Disciplinary Guidelines.
The most common disqualifying convictions are listed below; however, this list is not all-inclusive:
- Arson-related offenses
- Auto theft
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Carrying a loaded firearm in a public place
- Child molestation
- Child pornography
- Discharge of a firearm in a public place or into an inhabited dwelling
- Drugs, possession for sale and sale
- Escape without force
- Failure to comply with a court order
- Failure to pay child support
- Failure to return to confinement
- False financial statements
- False imprisonment
- Fraud involving, but not limited to, bank cards, credit cards, insufficient funds/checks, insurance, mail, Medi-Cal or Medicare, real estate, tax, and welfare
- Fraudulent impersonation of a peace officer
- Hit and run
- Kidnapping-related offenses
- Pimping and pandering
- Possession of an unregistered firearm
- Practicing without a license when a license is required
- Receipt of stolen property
- Resisting or threatening a peace officer
- Statutory rape
- Tax evasion
- Terrorist threats
- Theft, grand and petty, including burglary and robbery
- Threats to commit a crime involving death or great bodily injury
- Violation of Penal Code section 273.5 (domestic violence, spousal abuse, etc.)
Note: When a recommendation is made to deny an application, the applicant has the right to appeal the recommendation through the administrative hearing process.
For steps to obtain a notary public commission, go to the Check List.