Interested in finding out how to become a notary signing agent in California? We’ve got you covered.
In order to begin operating as a notary signing agent, you will need to:
- Become commissioned as a notary public
- Take a loan signing training course
- Become Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) compliant
- Purchase your notary supplies
This Notary Signing Agent California article breaks down everything you need to know in easy-to-follow, succinct steps — helping you to commence your loan signing career with as little difficulty as possible.
Recommended: Purchase E&O insurance in order to ensure that your personal assets are protected in the event of a negligence lawsuit.
What is a Notary Signing Agent
Notary signing agents (NSA) are crucial in the real estate sector as they act as a guide for borrowers through loan document signings, acknowledging their signatures, and returning documents to the lender.
On the surface, the role of an NSA might seem identical to that of a notary public, but the distinction lies in the level of expertise required for each task.
While a notary public primarily verifies the identities of signatories and acknowledges signatures, an NSA possesses a deeper understanding of loan documents and has been trained to provide unbiased explanations of each document’s purpose.
Although no extra legal qualifications are required to become an NSA in California, undertaking specialized training is strongly recommended for a couple of reasons. Namely, because it:
- Makes you a more appealing candidate to lenders, title companies, and other industry recruiters — who typically prefer NSAs with specific training due to the complexity of loan signings
- Ensures that you’re actually capable of competently fulfilling all of the responsibilities associated with being an NSA
Note: For more information on this specialized training, see Step 2: Take a Loan Signing Training Course below.
How to Become a Notary Signing Agent in California
If you’re interested in the idea of becoming a notary signing agent in California, you can get started today by completing the following steps.
Step 1: Become a Notary Public
In order to become a certified notary signing agent, you will first need to be commissioned as a notary public in California.
In order to do this, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Meet the eligibility requirements: In order to be eligible to apply to become a notary, applicants must be at least 18 years old, be a legal resident of California, and not have been convicted of a felony
- Complete an approved education course: The next step that all applicants will need to complete is a six-hour education course from a state-approved provider. You can find a list of suitable education courses on the Secretary of State’s Approved Vendors page
- Fill out an application form: Unlike in most other states, you won’t have to mail your Notary Public Application to the Secretary of State after completing it. However, you’ll be required to bring it along with you when you sit your California notary exam instead
- Pass the notary public exam: Before you can file your application form, you’ll first need to pass the notary public exam by achieving a score of 70% or above
- Submit your fingerprints: After passing the notary public exam, you’ll need to submit a request for live scan service (form SOS/BCII 8016) with the Secretary of State. Note that this can be paid for at the live scan site via cash, check, or money order
- Obtain a $15,000 surety bond: All California notary publics must maintain a surety bond in the value of $15,000 throughout the duration of their four-year commission
- File your notary public oath and surety bond: The Secretary of State will email you a notary public commission packet if your application is approved. You’ll need to file the oath of office in this packet, alongside your surety bond, with your county clerk’s office within 30 days of being approved
For a more in-depth overview of the process of getting commissioned as a notary public in California, we recommend having a look at our How to Become a Notary in California overview.
Step 2: Take a Loan Signing Training Course
Considering a specialized loan signing training course is a practical step in your journey as a certified loan signing agent in California. Despite it not being a mandatory requirement, there are several advantages to doing so:
- Comprehensive knowledge: An in-depth course equips you with a thorough understanding of mortgage loan signings and effective ways to deal with unforeseen circumstances, enhancing your proficiency as an NSA
- Employability enhancer: Holding a certificate from a recognized course showcases your dedication and specialized skills, making you a preferred choice for hiring companies.
- Confidence booster: The simulated “real-world” experiences of these courses can boost your confidence, enabling you to provide superior service and fostering positive client interactions
Did you know? A notary signing agent course can also prepare you to pass the Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) exam.
We recommend the National Notary Association’s notary signing agent certification course, which includes background screening, a comprehensive guide, a priority notary signing agent listing, and a loan documents sourcebook.
Step 3: Become SPW Compliant
Although SPW compliance isn’t mandatory, it’s a smart move.
This is because — just like taking a loan signing course — it demonstrates to potential employers that you’ve got a solid grasp of all of the important finance and loan signing fundamentals that you will need to know in order to operate effectively as an NSA.
To become compliant, you’ll have to complete a background check, pass an exam, and buy Errors and Omissions insurance with at least $25,000 coverage.
Step 4: Purchase Signing Agent Supplies
After you become commissioned as a California notary public and complete a certified loan signing course, you will be ready to purchase all of your notary supplies.
This includes a notary stamp or seal, which is what you’ll use to notarize documents during loan signings, as well as a notary record book or journal (which is used to keep a record of each notarial service you perform as a notary signing agent).
Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend having a look at notary.net’s affordable and state-specific notary supplies package.
Step 5: Obtain Errors and Omissions Insurance
As a final step, you will likely want to purchase a comprehensive Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance policy.
This type of insurance policy protects you against any liability that may arise due to negligence or misconduct on your part.
Examples of where an E&O insurance policy can be useful include:
- You accidentally mix up the interest rate while conducting a loan signing, which causes the borrower to suffer serious financial loss and, as a result, file a claim against you to recover these losses
- Due to an oversight, you fail to verify the identity of one of the parties signing the documents of a property sale. After the deal goes through, it’s later revealed that one party committed identity fraud. This prompts the defrauded party to seek legal recourse against you for this error
- Due to an error on your part, a power of attorney document cannot be notarized properly, resulting in the named person suing you for the financial damages of being unable to make an urgent filing in time
Note: Purchasing E&O insurance is actually a requirement for becoming SPW compliant.
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Notary Signing Agent California FAQ
How do I become a notary signing agent in California?
After becoming commissioned as a notary public in California, you’ll need to take a loan signing course, become SPW compliant, and purchase the necessary signing agent supplies. We explore the process of starting notary signing agent work in greater detail in our Notary Signing Agent California article.
How much do loan signing agents make in California?
The earning potential of notary loan signing agents in California varies greatly depending on their experience, workload, and location. That being said, certified loan signing agents will generally earn anywhere from $75 to $200 per signing appointment — with some experienced agents in urban areas able to earn significantly more, particularly with after-hours or emergency signings.
Does California allow notaries to perform remote notarizations?
In California, neither notaries nor signing agents are permitted to perform remote online notarizations (RONs). However, since legislation is constantly evolving, it’s important to refer to the guidelines on the California Secretary of State’s website for the most up-to-date information.
How much does it cost to become a notary signing agent?
On average, the cost associated with becoming a notary signing agent will fall in the $200 to $400 range. However, it can vary depending on each applicant’s specific circumstances. This estimation takes into account the state application fees, notary public course fees, the purchase of a notary seal and record book, E&O insurance, and notary loan signing agent training costs.
How long does a notary commission last in California?
Notary commissions in California are valid for four years starting from the date of the official oath and bond filing. In order to maintain the ability to perform notarial acts without lapse, all notaries and signing agents must apply for reappointment before their current commission expires. For more information on this, see our article on How to Become a Notary Signing Agent.
For all related articles, have a look at our How to Become a Notary Signing Agent page.