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California Frequently Asked Questions

Please read the following California Notary Frequently Asked Questions to locate the information you’re looking for.

How do I get an apostille?

Send your notarized document or certified copy from the county clerk, along with the $20.00 fee per certification, a cover letter telling Notary Public Section (California Secretary of State’s Office) for what country the document is to be used; you will also need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request to:

Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
Phone: (916) 653-3595

Allow 10-14 days for processing.

How do I obtain a Notary Public commission?

You must take and pass an examination about notary law. You may register for the exam online at notary.cps.ca.gov or call CPS at (916)-263-3520 to receive an exam registration packet.

I have changed my business or home address, what do I do?

Send the Notary Public Section (California Secretary of State’s Office) a letter or a change of address form by certified mail within 30 days of the change. (Government Code Section 8213.5)

Click HERE for forms: http://www.sos.ca.gov/notary/forms/

Mail to:
Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
Phone: (916) 653-3595

I lost my stamp or journal, what do I do?

Send Notary Public Section (California Secretary of State’s Office) a letter by certified mail explaining what happened and, if applicable, a photocopy of a police report. If you have had your stamp lost or stolen that office will send you back an authorization so you can have a new stamp made. (Government Code Section 8206).

Notary Section – Mailing Address:
Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001

Notary Section – Street Address:
1500 11th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 653-3595

Once you receive the letter from the Notary Section, you will need to order your new stamp. Send us the original authorization letter (not a copy) and place your stamp order. We must receive the original authorization letter before we can ship you your stamp. Please send the original authorization letter to us at:

Notary of America Corporate Headquarters
225 E Robinson Street, Suite 570
Orlando, FL 32801
E-mail: info@notaryofamerica.com
1-800-864-6395
Fax: 321-274-0119

I changed my business from one county to another, what do I do?

Your commission allows you to notarize throughout the State of California. If the location of your business has changed, you are not required to transfer your oath of office and bond to that new county.

You are, however, required to send the Notary Public Section (California Secretary of State’s Office) an address change via certified mail.

Additional information: Your commission allows you to notarize throughout the State of California, regardless of where your oath and bond are on file. If the location of your business has changed, you are required to send the Secretary of State an address change via certified mail within 30 days of the change. If the address change is for your business, please include the business name in your notification. If the address change includes a change of county, you may choose to transfer your county, however a county transfer is not required.

To file a county change, you must request an oath of office form from the Secretary of State. The oath will have the name of your original county, however, you will take and file your oath of office in the new county, checking the county transfer box at the bottom of the oath form. You must also take a new bond or a duplicate of the original bond and file it together with your oath of office in the new county. A certificate of authorization to manufacture a notary public seal will be sent to you once the Secretary of State has received and processed your oath of office filed in the new county.

Your stamp must reflect the county where your most recent oath and bond are filed.

I did not file my oath and bond on time, what do I do?

If you failed to file your oath and bond within the prescribed time, your commission is void. If you wish to reapply, you must complete a new application (complete new registration and make payment again) here, attach an original Proof of Completion certificate for mandatory notary education with your completed application, as this is the State of California requirement.

How do I resign my commission?

If you want to resign your commission, send a letter to the Notary Public Section (California Secretary of State’s Office) and deliver all of your notarial records and papers to the county clerk in which your current oath of office is on file within 30 days. (Government Code Section 8209)

Mailing address for your letter:
Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
Phone: (916) 653-3595

I need to request a new certificate of authorization to have a new stamp made. Is there a fee?

No, however, you must send the Notary Public Section (California Secretary of State’s Office) a written request for a certificate of authorization. [Government Code Section 8207.3(e)]

Mailing address for your letter:
Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
Phone: (916) 653-3595

Once you receive the letter from the Notary Section, send us the original authorization letter (not a copy) and place your stamp order. We must receive the original authorization letter before we can ship you your stamp. Please send the original authorization letter to us at:

Notary of America Corporate Headquarters
225 E Robinson Street, Suite 570
Orlando, FL 32801


To learn more specifics about earning your California Notary commission, read these commonly asked questions and answers.

If a person was convicted of a DUI, petty theft, trespass, etc., will that person be disqualified from becoming a notary public?

The Secretary of State cannot make a determination as to whether or not a person meets the qualifications to become a notary public until a thorough background check has been completed. If you are concerned as to whether you may be disqualified from becoming a notary public based upon past conviction information, please refer to the Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines (2001) [See website links provided on our resources page ] , which also includes a list of the most common disqualifying convictions. The disciplinary guidelines are available on the Secretary of State’s website or can be mailed to you upon request by that office. Please refer to the inside front cover of the above handbook for website and mailing addresses.

I had a conviction over 25 years ago. Do I still need to disclose this conviction on my application?

There is no time limit for disclosure of convictions. If you have ever been convicted, including being convicted for a DUI, you must disclose this on your application.

How soon can I take the test for reappointment if I currently hold a notary public commission?

It is recommended that you take the exam at least six months prior to the expiration date of your current commission if you do not want to have a break in commission terms. Keep in mind that the test results are only valid for one year from the date of the examination. (California Code of Regulations section 20803)

I have been a notary public for over 20 years. Will I still be required to take the initial six-hour approved course of study?

Yes, initially everyone, including those notaries who have held previous commission terms, will be required to satisfactorily complete a six-hour course of study from an approved vendor prior to reappointment as a notary public. A list of approved vendors is available on the Secretary of State’s website or can be mailed to you upon request by the Secretary of State’s office. (Government Code section 8201(a)(3))

Will I be required to take an approved course of study each time I apply for reappointment?

Yes, an applicant for notary public who holds a California notary public commission and who has completed the initial six-hour course of study from an approved vendor will be required to satisfactorily complete a three-hour refresher course of study prior to reappointment as a notary public for all subsequent terms. (Government Code section 8201(b)(2))

I have taken courses in the past prior to taking the exam. Will I still be required to take the six-hour course?

Yes, because in the past, you were not required to take these courses prior to being appointed as a notary public and those courses were not “approved” by the Secretary of State. However, now that mandatory education is one of the qualifications you must meet in order to become a notary public, you are required to complete the approved course of study in order to qualify. (Government Code section 8201(a)(3))

I have passed every notary public exam I have taken in the past. I even scored 100% on my last exam. Is there any way to skip the six-hour course and take the three-hour course instead?

No, the law specifically states that for appointments made on or after July 1, 2005, you must complete a six-hour course of study approved by the Secretary of State to qualify to become a notary public. (Government Code section 8201(a)(3))

I have completed my approved six-hour course of study and received my Proof of Completion. What do I do with it?

Once you have completed your six-hour course of study from an approved vendor, staple your Proof of Completion to the application and take both with you to the exam.

I have changed my business, mailing or home address, what do I do?

Send the Secretary of State a letter or a change of address form by certified mail within 30 days of the change. (Government Code section 8213.5)

I have changed my business from one county to another, what do I do?

Your commission allows you to notarize throughout the State of California, regardless of where your oath and bond are on file. If the location of your business has changed, you are required to send the Secretary of State an address change via certified mail within 30 days of the change. If the address change is for your business, please include the business name in your notification. If the address change includes a change of county, you may choose to transfer your county, however a county transfer is not required. To file a county change, you must request an oath of office form from the Secretary of State. The oath will have the name of your original county, however, you will take and file your oath of office in the new county, checking the county transfer box at the bottom of the oath form. You must also take a new bond or a duplicate of the original bond and file it together with your oath of office in the new county. A certificate of authorization to manufacture a notary public seal will be sent to you once the Secretary of State has received and processed your oath of office filed in the new county. Your stamp must reflect the county where your most recent oath and bond are filed. (Government Code sections 8213 and 8213.5)

Once you receive the letter from the Notary Section, send us the original authorization letter (not a copy) and place your stamp order. We must receive the original authorization letter before we can ship you your stamp. Please send the original authorization letter to us at:
Notary of America Corporate Headquarters
225 E. Robisonson St., Ste. 570
Orlando, FL 32801

Am I required to see the person sign the document at the time I perform the notarization?

If you are preparing a certificate of acknowledgment, then “no.” The document can be executed before the person brings it to you for notarization. In an acknowledgment, the signer must personally appear before you and acknowledge that he/she executed the document, not that they executed the document in your presence. However, when preparing a jurat, then “yes.” The person requesting the jurat must appear before you, take an oath, and sign the document in your presence. In addition, for both an acknowledgment and a jurat, the notary public must certify to the identity of the signer. (Civil Code section 1189 and Government Code section 8202)

I lost my stamp or journal, what do I do?

Send a letter immediately by certified mail to the Secretary of State explaining what happened and, if applicable, a photocopy of a police report. Upon written request, the Secretary of State will send an authorization so you can have a new stamp made. (Government Code sections 8206 and 8207.3(e))

Once you receive the letter from the Notary Section, send us the original authorization letter (not a copy) and place your stamp order. We must receive the original authorization letter before we can ship you your stamp. Please send the original authorization letter to us at:
Notary of America Corporate Headquarters
225 E. Robisonson St., Ste. 570
Orlando, FL 32801

I have changed my name. What do I do?

Send a completed name change form http://www.sos.ca.gov/notary/forms/ to the Secretary of State. (There is no charge by the state.) Once approved, you will be issued an amended commission that reflects your new name. You will then need to file a new oath of office and an amendment to your bond with the county clerk within 30 days from the date the amended commission was issued in order for the name change to take effect. Within 30 days of the filing, you should obtain a new seal that reflects the new name. Once the amended oath and bond are filed, you may no longer use the commission, including the stamp, that was issued in your previous name. If you fail to file your amended oath and bond within the 30-day time limit, the name change will become void and your commission will revert back to the previous name and you will be required to submit another name change application.

Once you are issued an amended commission that reflects your new name, you will need to fax us a copy of the new commission with a letter requesting us to issue you an amendment to your bond.

Contact Us
E-mail: info@notaryofamerica.com
1-800-864-6395
Fax: 321-274-0119

You will also need to order a new Notary Stamp. Once you receive the authorization letter from the Notary Section, send us the original authorization letter (not a copy) and place your stamp order with us. We must receive the original authorization letter before we can ship you your stamp. Please send the original authorization letter to us at:
Notary of America Corporate Headquarters
225 E. Robisonson St., Ste. 570
Orlando, FL 32801

You will then need to file a new oath of office and an amendment to your bond with the county clerk within 30 days from the date the amended commission was issued in order for the name change to take effect. Within 30 days of the filing, you should obtain a new seal that reflects the new name. Once the amended oath and bond are filed, you may no longer use the commission, including the stamp, that was issued in your previous name. If you fail to file your amended oath and bond within the 30-day time limit, the name change will become void and your commission will revert back to the previous name and you will be required to submit another name change application. (Government Code sections 8213 and 8213.6)

I need to request a new certificate of authorization to have a new stamp made. Is there a fee?

No; however, you must send the Secretary of State a written request for a certificate of authorization. (Government Code section 8207.3(e))

How do I resign my commission?

If you want to resign your commission, send a letter to the Secretary of State and deliver all of your notarial journals, records and papers to the county clerk in which your current oath of office is on file within 30 days and destroy the seal. (Government Code section 8209)

I did not file my oath and bond on time, what do I do?

If you failed to file your oath and bond within the prescribed time, your commission is void. (Government Code section 8213(a)) If you wish to reapply, you must complete a new application, attach your Proof of [Required Education Course] Completion to the application and send it to the Secretary of State with a check for $20.00. If you do not have your Proof of Completion, contact the vendor who provided the education to obtain a duplicate of your Proof of Completion. Keep in mind that the test results are only valid for one year from the date of the examination; and that the Proof of Completion of an approved course of study is valid for two years from the date of issuance. (California Code of Regulations sections 20803 and 20800.5)

Where can I get a live scan fingerprint form?

You will be sent a live scan fingerprint form with instructions once you have passed the examination.

I have completed the education and taken the exam, but my current commission doesn’t expire until another four months. When will I receive my new commission?

Although you have already completed the education and taken the test, your commission for reappointment will not be issued until 30 days prior to the expiration date of your current commission.