COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Secretary of State open for business?

Yes. While Sacramento public counter services are currently suspended in furtherance of Governor Newsom’s Shelter in Place Order and precautions deemed necessary by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, our office remains operational and continues to provide mission critical functions and services. We will continue to have limited staff in the office at any given time with other staff working remotely in order to maintain essential operations. Customers with questions are encouraged to utilize the many resources available on our website, ask Eureka - our award winning online chatbot, or submit your inquiries via email whenever possible. Telephone wait times may be longer than usual while we operate with limited employees in office in order to preserve the health and safety of our customers and staff.

Apostilles and Notary Public

1. Is the Secretary of State still processing Apostilles?

Yes. The Secretary of State continues to process all documents received, including Apostilles. You are encouraged to submit your request by mail including a check or money order. Apostilles can be submitted through the mail following the instructions on our website at www.sos.ca.gov/notary/request-apostille.

2. How can I file my notary public oath and bond if the county offices are closed?

Many county clerk/recorder's offices are closed to the public; however, some are still accepting filings by mail.  Contact your county clerk/recorder's office to see if they are accepting notary oath filings by mail.  If so, the instructions are included in your commission packet.

If you are unable to file your oath and bond with the county clerk/recorder's office within the thirty-day filing period due to office closures, the Secretary of State's office will assist you once the county clerk/recorder's offices open back up.  Please contact us at notaries@sos.ca.gov once your county clerk/recorder's office reopens.

3. Are the duties of a notary public considered essential services?

The California Secretary of State’s office encourages all notaries public to follow the guidance provided by public health officials at a federal, state, and local level should they choose to continue to perform notarial acts under the parameters of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20. California notaries public are not prohibited from performing a notarial act during a shelter in place order.  However, preservation of the public health and safety of Californians, including all notaries public, is of the utmost concern so it is recommended that each notary public continue to stay apprised of and operate under any health directives from the Department of Public Health as the situation raised by the COVID-19 pandemic remains fluid.

The Secretary of State will not take action against a notary for having entries in their notary journal during this state of emergency provided the notary otherwise is complying with their notarial duties.

4. Can California Notaries Public perform a notarial act without the physical presence of the signer (Remote Online Notarization)?

California Law does not provide the authority for California notaries public to perform a remote online notarization. The personal appearance of the document signer is required before the notary public. However, California citizens who wish to have their documents notarized can seek a mobile California notary public.

5. How do I notarize a document during California’s shelter-in-place order?

During this unprecedented time, those seeking notarization may do so safely by contacting a mobile notary. Mobile notaries are individual notaries who travel to a customer's location to perform notarizations. When a mobile notary arrives at an agreed-upon location, they may practice physical distance while observing a customer sign a document. All California notaries public may consider the following guidelines to assist in maintaining proper social distancing:

  1. When you arrive at the customer's location or an individual appears before you, let them know that you want to maintain a safe distance to adhere to CDC guidelines.
  2. From a safe distance, verify the identity of the individual appearing before you.
  3. From a safe distance, perform the notarial act, including all journal entries.
  4. After you have made your journal entries, you may wish to step back to a safe distance while the individual signs your journal and enters their thumbprint, if needed, while still maintaining control and direct line of sight of your journal.
  5. Once the notarization is complete, return the notarized document back to the customer.

6. My Notary Public Commission was extended, but I have received a new commission package, what do I do?  

Reappointing notaries public who have received a new commission package must file their oath of office and surety bond with the county clerk’s office within 30 days of the beginning of the term. Once the oath of office and surety bond have been filed, the commission extended by Executive Order N-63-20 is no longer active.

Business Entities

1. Is the Secretary of State still processing Business Entities filings and records requests?

Yes. Although our Sacramento public counter services are currently suspended in furtherance of Governor Newsome’s Shelter in Place Order, the Secretary of State continues to accept and process submissions received by other means. You are encouraged to use our online services at bizfile.sos.ca.gov or mail your submissions to our Sacramento office. Customers with questions are encouraged to ask Eureka – our award winning online chatbot (the bear in the righthand corner of our bizfile.sos.ca.gov) or submit your inquires via email when possible. Telephone wait times may be longer than usual while we continue to operate with limited staff in office in order to preserve the health and safety of our customers and staff.

As a last resort, there are document drop-off boxes on the first-floor lobby of our Sacramento office.

2. Will expedited and preclearance services continue to be available?

No. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary of State has been operating with limited staff in the office in order to preserve the health and safety of our customers and staff while still maintaining essential operations for businesses. In order to minimize delays in the processing of normal business entity documents, effective Monday, April 20, 2020, the Secretary of State will be suspending preclearance and expedite services until further notice (see Government Code section 12182(c)). Business entity documents submitted with a request for 24-hour preclearance or expedite services will continue to be honored until Friday, April 17, 2020. However, any documents submitted with requests for 24-hour preclearance or expedite services on Friday, April 17, 2020, will be mailed back to the customer upon completion of the review process rather than being available for pickup in our Sacramento lobby. Customers that would like their submission returned via overnight mail should include a prepaid self-addressed envelope. 

3. Will regular counter service continue to be available?

Although our public counter services are currently suspended in furtherance of Governor Newsom’s Shelter in Place Order, the Secretary of State continues to accept and process submissions received by other means. You may utilize our online services at bizfile.sos.ca.gov or mail your submissions to our Sacramento office including a check or money order.

4. Will good standing certificates be mailed back?

Yes. To ensure faster service of requests for good standing certificates, customers are encouraged to submit their request separate from any certified copy requests. Requests can be mailed in or, as a last resort, dropped off in our Sacramento lobby. Requests that are dropped off in our Sacramento lobby will be returned via U.S. Mail unless a prepaid self-addressed express envelope is included.

Please be aware that the Secretary of State’s California Business Search has more than 15 million images of Corporation, Limited Liability Company and Limited Partnership documents filed with our office. These documents are available through our California Business Search to view and print from home for free and can be a simpler solution to obtaining copies of documents when a good standing certificate is not necessary.

5. How do I file my Statement of Information online?

LLC: You may file either a required periodic or amended (out of required filing period) Statement of Information for your LLC online at https://llcbizfile.sos.ca.gov/.

Corporation: You may file either a required periodic or amended (out of required filing period) Statement of Information for your Corporation online at https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/?filing=corp.

6. Can I form my limited liability company online?

Yes. You can form your domestic (California) LLC online at https://llcbizfile.sos.ca.gov/registration.

View Content:   Open All   Close All