To obtain a commission, candidates must complete the tasks outlined here and pass an examination.
Notary Public Education: CPS HR administers the Notary Public written examination ONLY. Information on mandatory notary education may be found on the Secretary of State's website by clicking here.
Exam Content: The Notary Public Examination consists of multiple-choice questions. It is a CLOSED-BOOK examination which is administered by proctors. Please allow approximately 2-3 hours for registration, testing, and proctor instructions.
All of the material in the California Notary Public Handbook (including updates, if any) is subject to examination. The examination is a total of 45 items with a one hour time limit. There are 40 items on the below content areas. There are also five non-scored items on the exam, these items do not count against a candidate's exam score and are only included to collect information on these questions so they can be used on a future exam.
Administrative Procedures: 5
Notarial Acts/Documentation: 12
Identification/Subscribing Witness Notarizations: 4
Immigration/Foreign Language: 4
Scoring: A scaled score of at least 70 is required to pass the exam. A scaled score is a conversion of a candidate’s raw score on one examination form to a common scale so that scores are standardized across all candidates. Because not every Notary Public exam is the same (i.e., there are multiple versions), every exam may have a slightly different difficulty level. Using a scaled score ensures that your score compares to others who may take another version of the exam at a different time. Candidates who take the Notary Public Examination receive a scaled score that ranges from 0 to 100. A scaled score of at least 70 is required to pass the exam. A scaled score is NOT a percent score and cannot be calculated by dividing the number correct by the total number of questions on the examination.
Test Fees and Application: Please see What to Bring.
Frequency of Testing: Candidates can test ONLY once per calendar month. If the exam is taken more than once in a calendar month, the second score will be invalid and any fees paid will be forfeited.
Reappointments: To avoid a break in commission, candidates applying for reappointment should take the exam at least six months prior to the expiration date of their commission. Candidates are not encouraged to test more than twelve months in advance of the commission expiration.
Result Notification: Results from your Notary Public Examination will be sent approximately 15-20 business days following the exam. Result information will not be discussed over the phone.
Candidates passing the examination: All persons appointed as a Notary Public are required to complete these items. Notary Public commissions are issued from the Secretary of State’s office, Notary Public Section. Once candidates pass the exam, their application is forwarded to the Secretary of State's office for processing. The notary public application processing time can be viewed on the Secretary of State’s website here.
Passing candidates must undergo a background check by the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for each and every Notary Public Appointment. The Live Scan Service information is available on the Secretary of State website.
Candidates not passing the exam will be mailed a fail notice. Candidates who fail the exam may apply and test again, but may not test more than once in a calendar month.
Rescoring Test Results: Requests for rescoring test results must be submitted in writing and accompanied with a $30.00 money order only, payable to CPS HR. No checks or cash will be accepted. Rescoring requests must be received by CPS HR within 45 days after the test date at the following address: 2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 160, Sacramento, CA 95834, ATTN: Notary Public Exam Services. Processing of these requests will be handled on a daily basis.
Commission: Notary Public commissions are issued from the Secretary of State’s Office, Notary Public Section. For information on current processing times, please click here.
Emergency Test Center Closure: Inclement weather or other emergencies may force the closure of a test center on the scheduled test date. In that event, the examination will be rescheduled. All registered candidates will receive notification of the new date and time of the test.
CPS HR Consulting is the only organization contracted with the California Secretary of State to administer the Notary exam on behalf of the State of California.
If you are looking for education providers to prepare for the notary exam please click on the approved vendor list. If you have any questions regarding registering or taking the exam, please contact us. For questions regarding obtaining a notary commission, please contact the California Secretary of State.