CALIFOl=lNI NOTAl=lY EXAffl - STUDY GUIDE by Notary Council 2021

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CALIFOl=lNI NOTAl=lY EXAffl - STUDY GUIDE by Notary Council 2021
California Notary Study
2021 Edition

Table Of Contents:
      Terms A Notary Should Know                                                            2

       Common Questions & Answers - For California Notaries                                 6

       California Notary Study Questions: 20​21                                            24

Please be advised! ​This study guide, along with the questions & answers, and practice exams,
are designed to cover requirements needed to pass the California Notary Public state exam and
are provided ONLY as study materials for the California Notary Exam and are NOT a legal
reference. Please refer all legal references to the most recent California Notary Public
Handbook and/or Secretary of State's office. ​
CALIFOl=lNI NOTAl=lY EXAffl - STUDY GUIDE by Notary Council 2021

Terms A Notary Should Know
Acknowledgment: ​An acknowledgment is an act by which a Notary certifies that they
have legally identified a document signer who personally appeared before the Notary.

Administrator: ​Is a court-appointed person who has the legal right to administer
(manage) the affairs of a decedent (or diseased person) with regards to the assets of
said person’s estate when no will or executor was named.

Affiant:​ Person who signs an affidavit. (When a notary is completing a jurat and the
person is swearing or affirming the document they are an Affiant.)

Affidavit:​ An affidavit is a sworn or ​written statement signed before a notary public by a
public official who can administer an oath or affirm to the Notary that the statement is
true to the best of the signers knowledge by placing a signature and finishing the jurat. It
is made under penalty of perjury. (In California a notary can put a person under oath)

Bill of Sale: ​A legal document made by a seller that is then given to a purchaser that
reports that on a specific day, location, and for a sum of money, the seller sold an item
to the purchaser.

Chattel: ​Are a person's possession other than real property (Example: item(s) in a
house or garage, but not the actual land or structure)

Chattel paper:​ A written obligation to pay money for a specific item is referred to as a
chattel paper.

Codicil: ​An addendum or supplemental addition used to alter a previous will (as it
relates to wills).

Consideration: ​Something that is legally bargained for between parties. Examples of
consideration would be money, property, and/or services.
CALIFOl=lNI NOTAl=lY EXAffl - STUDY GUIDE by Notary Council 2021
Contempt of court: ​Contempt of court, commonly referred to as just contempt, is an
offense, or action, that is considered disrespectful behavior that defies the authority
of the court, or hinders a court’s order.

Deponent: ​A person who makes an affidavit or deposition under oath. (Deponent has
the same meaning as affiant.)

Deposition: ​A written statement or testimony, taken out of court, used during a lawsuit
or trial, that contains transcribed words spoken under oath in front of an authorized
official or notary public.

Duress: ​Wrongful and typically unlawful threats or other actions that coerce a person to
act against their will.

Encumbrance:​ A legal claim or limitation made on an owner’s property.

Escrow:​ Escrow generally refers to a financial arrangement where a designated third
party holds funds or a valuable asset until a condition is met.

Executor:​ ​When someone with a will passes away, the designated executor named in
their will manages and distributes the assets to the listed beneficiaries after the person’s

Felony: ​In criminal law, a felony encompasses the most serious types of criminal
offenses and is more serious than a misdemeanor crime.

Grant Deed:​ A document that transfers ownership of real property from one person or
intent to another.

Legal Guardian: ​Person with the legal authority to manage another individual’s affairs.

Identification Document:​ This is the document (can be an ID, passport, etc) that was
used to determine a person's identification.

A judgment declares the rights of individuals, including that one party owes money to
another and specifying the amount owed. Judgments may be final or temporary.
CALIFOl=lNI NOTAl=lY EXAffl - STUDY GUIDE by Notary Council 2021

Jurat: ​A Jurat is the section of an affidavit that contains the certification that a Notary
affirms that they have watched the signing of a document prior to giving an oath or
official affirmatio​n. ​A Jurat is the second most frequently completed form by a notary
public. (Government Code section 8202) The jurat is identified by the wording
“Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed)” contained in the form. In the jurat, the notary
public certifies:
      • That the signer personally appeared before the notary public on the date
        indicated and in the county indicated;
      • That the signer signed the document in the presence of the notary public;
      • That the notary public administered the oath or affirmation*; and
      • To the identity of the signer.

Lease: ​A lease is a legal agreement (contract) between an owner of a property, piece of
land, building, or vehicle and another that allows a renter to use said property for an
allotted time in return for a specified fee.

Lien: ​An official order that allows one entity to keep another entity’s property until they
are paid money that is owed.

Litigation: ​The act or process of a lawsuit between disputing parties involved in the
court of law.

Misdemeanor: ​A crime considered minor in comparison to others or less serious than a

Mortgage on Real Property: ​A legal binding agreement that is used to create a lien on
real property until the debt has been paid in full. As the mortgagee, the lender has the
right to sell the property to pay off the loan if the borrower fails to pay.

Oath:​ A spoken, solemn promise to a supreme entity, a revered person or thing made
before a pledge of the truth of a statement. A notary will give an oath (affirming or
swearing) to the validity of the documents contents.

*There is no prescribed wording for the oath, but an acceptable oath would be “Do you
swear or affirm that the statements in this document are true?” When administering the
oath, the signer and notary public traditionally each raise their right hand but this is not a
legal requirement.

Plaintiff:​ A person who calls for (or starts) a legal case against another in a court of

Power of attorney:​ A legal document that gives an appointed person the authority to
act on behalf of someone else with regards to legal or financial matters.

Protest: ​is a written statement by a notary public that a promissory note or bill of
exchange was presented for acceptance or payment, but the payment was refused.
This applies only to a notary public employed by a financial institution, during the course
and scope of the notary’s employment with the financial institution.

Principle or Party: ​A person that is involved or part of the document.

Statute of limitations: ​A law that sets the ‘maximum time’ after an event within which
legal proceedings may be initiated (started) by.

Venue:​ This is the county and state by which the notarization act took place, for
example, Sacramento County, California​.

Will:​ A written legal statement pertaining to a person’s wishes after death.

Satisfactory Evidence:​ The type of evidence that a notary uses to confirm the identity of a
signer is called “Satisfactory Evidence”

Scribing Witness:​ Should a person that signed a document not be able to appear before the
notary, the signer may request another person to sign the document as a witness that the
principle singer did sign or stated to them that they signed the original document, this person is
called a “subscribing witness”.

Common Questions & Answers - For California Notaries

Question:​ What arrests or convictions on your record should you disclose on your application?
Answer: All Notary applicants are required to disclose any arrests where a trial is pending along
with ALL prior convictions.

Question:​ You are not required to disclose a conviction that happened over 10+ years ago.
Answer: False, you are required to list ALL prior convictions

Question: ​The term of office for a notary is for how many years after the start of their term.
Answer: 4 years. (CGC 8204)

Question:​ To complete your notary filing and to act as a notary, a person must file with their
County Clerk's office (within 30 days of the commission start date) the following items:
Answer: 1) oath of office, and 2) $15,000 bond (cgc 8213)

Question:​ True or False: A notary has the ability to perform a notary act outside the county they
field their oath of office?
Answer: True, they have the ability to perform notary acts in all California counties regardless of
what county their oath was filed in.

Question:​ When filling a notary bond (the surety bond) the sum of the bond must be in the
amount of?
Answer: $15,000

Question:​ Once a notary, your journal can be lent to other notaries as needed.
Answer: False. Your notary journal must ALWAYS be kept in a secure place under the notaries’
control at all times.

Question:​ What penalty could a notary face if they fail to secure his/her journal?
Answer: His/her notary public commission may be suspended or revoked AND civil and criminal
penalties may be imposed (CGC 8214.1(o), 8214.15(b), and 8228.1)

Question:​ A Journal entry must be made at the time of the notarial act and must be recorded in
what order?
Answer: in sequential order.

Question:​ Should a notary willfully (intentionally) not properly maintain her journal, they can be
found guilty of _____________.
Answer: a misdemeanor.

Question:​ What should a notary do if a member of the public requests the ORIGINAL journal
Answer: You will need to deny the request. You may, however, give a photocopy of the journal

Question:​ Can I charge a person for a photocopy of a journal entry?
Answer: Yes, you may charge them. You are allowed to charge (30 cents) per photo-copy page.

Question:​ Who is the person that appoints notaries in the state of California?
Answer: The California Secretary of State is the public official that appoints notaries in

Question:​ I have my primary residence in Utah but I spend a lot of time and do business in
California, can I become a California Notary Public?
Answer: No (unless appointed to serve in the military), your primary residence must be in
California to become a California Notary Public.

Question:​ I am a resident of North Carolina but stationed in California for the military, am I
eligible to be a California notary.
Answer: Yes, if you are 18+ and stationed and in the military stationed in California, there are
special provisions to become a notary.

Question:​ Am I allowed to take an approved California 3-hour course of study to become a
Answer: No, if you are not currently licensed as a notary, you must complete a 6-hour study
course, from an authorized vendor, in order to become a notary public.

Question:​ I'm currently listed as a notary and have already taken a 6-hour course of study. Am I
required to take the 6-hour course again?
Answer: No, you will only need to complete a 3-hour approved course of study to complete your
license as long as you complete all filings prior to the expiration date of your current

Question:​ I'm currently licensed as a notary, but will not be able to complete my filing until after
my commission expires due to a health issue, can I take the 3-hour course.
Answer: No, if for ANY reason your commission expires prior to completing your paperwork to
renew your commission, you are required to take the 6-hour approved course.
Question:​ I’m a licensed notary and I’m completing my renewal PRIOR to it expiring, can I
take the 6-hour course or must I take the 3-hour course?
Answer: Yes, you are ALWAYS allowed to take the 6-hour approved course as part of your

Question:​ Can a notary purchase their Notary Seal from ANY company that makes rubber
Answer: No, you can only purchase your notary seal from a company that is AUTHORIZED by
the Secretary of State's office.

Question:​ What are the criteria that a notary seal must abide by?
Answer: The State of California requires each notary to use a rubber stamp as their official seal.
However, an embossing seal may be used in conjunction with the ink stamp.
       1. The seal impression must be photographically reproducible.
       2. Round notary seals must be no larger than two inches in diameter, rectangle notary
seals must be no larger than one inch in width by two and one-half inches in length with a
serrated or milled edge border.
       3. The notary seal must contain:
                a) The State Seal of California,
                b) the words "Notary Public",
                c) the name of the Notary Public as shown on their commission,
                d) the name of the county where their oath of office and Notary Public bond are
       on file,
                e) the expiration date of the Notary Public's commission,
                f) the sequential identification number (commission number) assigned to the
       Notary Public,
                g) and the identification number assigned to the seal manufacturer.

Question:​ Does the notary Seal HAVE to be round?
Answer: No, the seal may be either square or round. (Circular, may not be more than 2 inches
in diameter. If rectangular, it must not be more than 1-inch in width by 2 and ½ inches in length)
CGC 8207)

Question:​ From whom does a notary obtain a CERTIFICATE to purchase an official notary
California Notary seal?
Answer: The California Secretary of State will issue a certificate to purchase your official notary
seal. You must use your official letter when purchasing your seal and NOT a copy.

Question:​ Can a notary be held personally liable for damages that occur from their notarial
Answer: Yes, if a notary is found to have acted with negligence that person may be found
personally liable for damages, costs and attorney’s fees. A notary may purchase
supplemental insurance to safeguard themselves.

Question:​ Can The Secretary of State appoint and commission a state, city, county, and public
school district employee as a notary public to act for and on behalf of the governmental entity for
which appointed Secretary of State?
Answer: Yes, the Secretary of State may appoint as many as they see fit.

Question:​ If you are a notary appointed for a public entity, can you act as a notary outside the
public entity?
Answer: No, they may only perform notary acts for that public entity.

Question:​ Notaries appointed for public entities have to charge fees?
Answer: Yes, the notaries charge for all services and remit the fees received to the employing
agency. Each fee charged must be entered in the journal.

Question​: If a notary appointed by a public agency terminates their position (voluntarily or is
fired) are they entitled to keep their notarial status?
Answer: No, once a notary appointed by a public agency leaves their position, their actions are
viewed the same as a notary’s resignation of the commission of the notary.

Question:​ Does a person appointed to serve as a military notary on a California reservation
have to be a U.S. citizen?
Answer: Yes, they must be a U.S. Citizen; however, they don’t have to be a California resident.

Question:​ Can a military notary appointed to notarize on behalf of a reservation perform their
notary acts outside of the reservation where they were appointed?
Answer: No, they must perform all notary acts on the military reservation they were appointed.

Question:​ Does a MILITARY notary appointed to notarize on behalf of a reservation charge the
same fees as all other notaries?
Answer: No, they are NOT allowed to charge any notary fees.

Question:​ How long is a SIX hour or THREE-hour notary course of study Proof of Completion
valid for?
Answer: It is valid for 2 years from the time of completion.

Question:​ If I am a current notary who took a SIX-hour refresher course, do I still have to pass
the written state exam?
Answer: Yes, every notary, whether renewing their commission or obtaining it for the first
time, must take the state exam.

Question:​ If a notary applicant has been convicted of a crime, does that make them ineligible to
become a notary?
Answer: No, if a person has been convicted of a crime it MAY render them ineligible but such
offense does not count as grounds for immediate disqualification.

Question:​ Are those who committed a felony, including crimes committed over 10 years ago
that are compatible with notary public duties, subject to disqualification?
Answer: Yes, persons who committed a felony compatible with the duties of a notary would
become immediately disqualified.

Question:​ Who ultimately makes the decision if an applicant is unfit to be a notary public?
Answer: The California Secretary of State.

Question:​ What can happen if a notary completes a certificate of acknowledgment that contains
a statement the notary knows to be false?
Answer: The notary can be liable for Civil penalties and administrative actions, and the act is
also a criminal offense.

Question:​ Can a notary be guilty of forgery if they issue an acknowledgment that they know to
be false?
Answer: Yes.

Question​: Can a person be sent to prison for forgery?
Answer: Yes, if a person is found guilty of forgery, they may be imprisoned for no more than one
year. (California Penal Code 473)

Question:​ What form should a notary use when a person swears (or affirms) that the contents
of a document are true and correct?
Answer: A Jurat.

Question:​ In order for a notary to complete a jurat, do they need to certify that the signer
personally appeared before them?
Answer: Yes, to complete a jurat, a notary must certify that the signer appeared before them
and must include the date and county where it occurred. CGC 8202(a)

Question: ​If I am a notary for my employer, can I leave my journal with my employer, so that
they may inspect whether I am present or not?
Answer: No, the notary must be present at ALL times. The journal must stay in the
possession of the notary at all times.

Question:​ If notaries who work for their employers are requested to hand over copies of their
journal entries, can the notary certified copies of their entries?
Answer: No, the notary must provide plain copies of the journal entries.

Question:​ Should a notary be ‘subpoena duces tecum’ which is a subpoena to produce records
in court, are the copies to be certified copies?
Answer: Yes, they shall be certified copies if requested.

Question: ​ At any time, do I have to turn my journal over to someone?
Answer: Yes, but only during a select number of occasions:
      1) If requested in writing by law;
      2) by a peace officer after a legal request;
      3) by a county clerk (pursuant to Section 8209)

Question:​ If a police officer believes that my journal has evidence of a criminal offense, am I
required to surrender my journal?
Answer: Yes.

Question:​ Can I accept an identification card issued by a Mexican public agency that has the
person’s photo?
Answer: Yes, so long as it also includes a description of the person, signature, and ID number.

Question:​ Can I accept all U.S. Military identification cards as proof of identification?
Answer: Yes, but they must also contain a photo, a description of the person, signature, and ID
number. (Note most modern military ID cards do not satisfy these requirements)

Question:​ Can I accept an employee ID card issued by an agency or office of the State of
California, or by an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in this state?
Answer: Yes, so long as it also contains a photo, a description of the person, signature, and
Searel or ID number.

Question:​ Can a notary establish the signer's ID by the oath of a single credible witness when
they personally know the signer?
Answer: Yes, so long as the notary also knows the credible witness personally and a proper ID
of the credible witness is provided.

Question:​ If a peace officer properly requests my journal but I refuse their request, what
consequence may I face?
Answer: You may be punished by law or stripped of your notary public license.

Question:​ When a notary has their journal surrendered to a peace officer, what should the
notary public do?
Answer: The notary must do the following:
   ● Obtain a receipt for the journal from the peace officer.
   ● Notify the Secretary of State within ten (10) days by certified mail or other means that
       provides a receipt. (The notification shall include the period of the journal entries, the
       commission number of the notary public, the expiration date of the commission, and a
       photocopy of the receipt.)
   ● The notary shall obtain a new sequential journal.
   ● If the journal is returned, the notary shall make NO new entries in the returned journal.

Question:​ What should a notary public do if my journal is stolen?
Answer: If a sequential journal of official acts performed by a notary public is stolen, lost,
misplaced, destroyed, damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable, the notary shall:
   ● Immediately notify the Secretary of State by certified mail or other means that provides a
       receipt. (The notification shall include the period of the journal entries, the commission
       number of the notary public, the expiration date of the commission, and a photocopy of
       the receipt.)
   ● When applicable, a photocopy of any police report that specifies the theft should be
       included with the notification. The notary may then obtain a new journal.

Question:​ If I wish to no longer be a notary (resign my position) what am I to do with my notary
supplies and journal?
Answer: You are to return your notary journal to the county clerk's office where you filed your
notary public oath of office and destroy your notary seal/stamp.

Question:​ I’m a notary public and my commission expired, and I have NOT obtained a
re-appointment. What do I do?
Answer: If you do not obtain reappointment within 30 days of the expiration of your commission,
all notarial records and papers shall be delivered within 30 days (of your expiration date) to the
clerk of the county in which the notary public’s current official oath of office is on file.

Question:​ After obtaining your notary license and you change your place of residence, is
updating my information with the DMV sufficient?
Answer: NO. You must, within 30 days, notify the Secretary of State's office in writing, by
certified mail or any other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt, of your change of
address. There is a change of address form (found on the S.O.S website) that can help you with
this task.
Question:​ When submitting my change of address, do I need to supply a check to cover the
Answer: NO. There is no fee to change your address.

Question:​ When changing my address, I moved to a different county than my original oath and
bond are filed in. What should I do?
Answer: You are not required to change where your bond is filed because you are permitted to
perform notary acts in all California counties. However, a business filing may elect to file a new
oath of office and bond in the new county but this is optional.

Question​: I decided to change my legal name. What do I need to do next?
Answer: If a notary public changes his or her name, the notary public shall:
   ● Send a completed name change form to the Secretary of State.
   ● Once approved, you will be issued an amended commission that reflects your new
   ● Next, you will 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 must 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, your commission will revert back to the previous name, and
      you will be required to submit another name change application.

Question:​ What happens if I fail to notify the Secretary of State of my name or address change,
within 30-days?
Answer: Willful failure to notify the Secretary of State of a change of address is punishable as
an infraction by a fine of not more than $500. (Government Code section 8213.5)

Question:​ Can my private employer require all notary fees be turned over to them and not allow
me to perform notary duties outside their place of business?
Answer: Yes, if the employer pays the premiums on any bond and the cost of any stamps,
seals, or other supplies required in connection with the appointment, commission, or
performance of the duties of such notary public.

Question:​ If a person influences a notary to conduct an improper act are they guilty of a crime?
Answer: Yes, they can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Question:​ Is it okay to keep my journal and seal in the company safe, only employees have
access to open it.
Answer: No, it must be under the exclusive control of the notary.

Question:​ Is there a time where the notary seal is NOT required on an acknowledgment?
Answer: The law allows a limited exception when a notary public may authenticate an official act
without using an official notary public seal. Because subdivision maps usually are drawn on a
material that will not accept standard stamp pad ink and other acceptable inks are not as readily
available, acknowledgments for California subdivision map certificates may be notarized without
the official seal. The notary public’s name, the county of the notary public’s principal place of
business, and the commission expiration date must be typed or printed below or immediately
adjacent to the notary public’s signature on the acknowledgment.

Question:​ Are their special rules for placing the notary stamp on a document?
Answer: Yes, the seal must be legibly (photographically reproducible) and not placed over
signatures or other printed material when placed on the document.

Question:​ I lost my stamp. What do I do?
Answer: Send a letter immediately by CERTIFIED mail or any other means of physical delivery
that provides a receipt 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

Questions:​ If I resign my commission, what do I do with my seal?
Answer: If a person resigns, is terminated, has their license revoked or a notary dies, their seal
must be destroyed. You can do this by peeling off the rubber portion of your stamp and cutting it
into pieces.

Question:​ What is the purpose of a Certificate of Acknowledgment?
Answer: The purpose of a Certificate of Acknowledgment is to acknowledge that the person who
signed appeared before the notary, was properly identified, and signed the document.

Question:​ If a notary realizes the documents are NOT complete, can they still perform an
Answer: No, the notary public must refuse to notarize the document.

Question:​ To complete an acknowledgment, does the signer have to sign the document in the
presence of the notary?
Answer: No, they only need to acknowledge that they did sign the document.

Question:​ What is a subscribing witness?
Answer: Should a person that signed a document not be able to appear before the notary,
the signer may request another person to sign the document as a witness that the principal
singer did sign or stated to them that they signed the original document; therefore, this person is
called a “subscribing witness.”

Question:​ Does a subscribing witness have to swear under oath?
Answer: Yes, they must swear under oath that:
   ● The subscribing witness either saw the principal sign the document or heard the signer
      acknowledge that he or she signed the document.
   ● The principal requested that the subscribing witness sign the document as a witness.

Question:​ When can a Subscribing Witness not be used?
Answer: A proof by a subscribing witness cannot be used with any Mortgage, Deed of Trust,
Security Agreement, Quitclaim Deed, or Grant Deed document. This makes sense since with
these documents the notary is required to obtain the right thumbprint for these types of
documents. As in the case of right thumbprints, a Proof by Subscribing witness may indeed be
used for a Deed of Reconveyance and a Trustee’s Deed if the property is in foreclosure. These
two documents are singled out because while they do contain the word “Deed” in them, they do
not require thumbprints and they may be used with a subscribing witness.

Question:​ If there is a credible witness, what must the witness do?
Answer: The credible witnesses must sign the notary public’s journal and the notary public must
indicate in his or her journal the type of identifying documents, the identifying numbers of the
documents, and the dates of issuance or expiration of the documents presented by the
witnesses to establish their identities. (Government Code section 8206(a)(2)(E))

Question:​ Once a person has become a Notary Public, what other titles are they entitled to?
Answer: None. The only title they may use is “Notary Public” and only for the purpose of
rendering notarial services.

Question:​ If a notary has a financial interest in a document, are they allowed to notarize a
signature in the document?
Answer: No, if the notary has a financial or beneficial interest, then you are not able to notarize
the document. (G.C. 8224)

Question:​ When inspecting a document before it is notarized, which act should a notary
complete before they notarize the signature?
Answer: They must inspect the document to determine that the document is COMPLETE.

Question:​ If after reviewing a document the notary realizes that information is incomplete or
missing, what must the notary do?
Answer: The notary must refuse to notarize the document.

Question:​ If a notary is presented a document that is in a foreign language (non-English) can a
notary notarize a signature in that document?
Answer: Yes, a notary may notarize a foreign language document.

Question:​ A notary is requested to notarize a document by a person that speaks a different
language and is not able to communicate with their customers, are they able to notarize their
Answer: No, a notary must be able to communicate directly with their customers.

Question:​ If a person with a foreign language brings an interpreter in with them to notarize a
document, how should the notary proceed?
Answer: The customer should be referred to a notary who speaks the customer's language.

Question:​ If a notary is unable to identify the type of foreign language document being
notarized, what should the notary enter into the journal?
Answer: They should enter the type of document as, “a document in a foreign language.”

Question:​ In what language must the notarial certificate be written when the document is in a
foreign language?
Answer: The notarial certificate must be written in English.

Question:​ Before the notary can notarize the signature of a document what must the notary
Answer: The notary must confirm the identity of a person before they can notarize a signature.

Question:​ What is satisfactory evidence?
Answer: Satisfactory evidence is used to establish the identity of a signer which includes:
      1) the oath of 1 credible witness;
      2) the oaths of 2 credible witnesses;
      3) proper identification documents.

Question:​ If you as a notary personally know the signer, is this sufficient or “satisfactory
evidence” to establish the identity of the signer?
Answer: No, this is not satisfactory evidence.

Question:​ If an ID document is not current but issued less than 5 years ago, is the document
valid to use?
Answer: Yes, a requirement of ID documents is that they must be current or issued within the
previous 5 years.
Question:​ Is it true that U.S. passports aren’t required to have a description of the person to
be an acceptable ID?
Answer: True. A passport issued by the U.S. doesn’t have to have the description of the person
to be considered an acceptable ID.

Question:​ Is an inmate ID a valid form of ID in or out of custody?
Answer: False. For an inmate ID card to be valid, the inmate has to be in the custody of the
issuing state or local sheriff’s department detention facility.

Question:​ Can you list 4 items that must be present on ID’s to be listed as reasonable
Answers: IDs must have:
       1) Serial number or other identifying number;
       2) a photograph;
       3) description of the person;
       4) signature of the person.

Question:​ Once a notary, do you have the power to perform a marriage?
Answer: No, except for those authorized by California Law.

Question:​ Does a notary have the ability to charge any fee they wish?
Answer: No. The maximum fees allowed are listed in the notary handbook.

Question:​ Is it required to write “$0 or No FEE” to indicate that no fee was charged for a notary
Answer: Yes, a notary must write in his journal “$0 or NO FREE” to indicate that no fee was
charged, they must not leave the fee blank.

Question:​ What is the Maximum Allowable fee for the signing of an Acknowledgment?
Answer: $15 for each signature acknowledged.

Question:​ What is the Maximum Allowable fee for administering an oath or affirmation to one
Answer: $15 per individual taking the oath or affirmation & certificate.

Question:​ What is the Maximum Allowable fee for taking a deposition, administering the oath of
office certificate of deposition?
Answer: For all services rendered in connection with the taking of any deposition, the sum of
thirty dollars ($30), and in addition thereto, the sum of seven dollars ($7) for administering the
oath to the witness and the sum of seven dollars ($7) for the certificate to the deposition.
Question:​ How long does a notary public have to file his oath of office and $15,000 surety
Answer: This must be done within 30 days of the start date in the notary commission.

Question:​ In what county must the notary file their bond and oath?
Answer: Both the oath and bond must be filed with the county clerk where the principal place of
business of the notary is located.

Question:​ What is an acceptable exception for not having the oath and bond filed within
Answer: None. Exceptions are not made to the 30-day filing requirement due to mail service
delays, county clerk mail processing delays, or for any other reason. (CGC 8213)

Question:​ Once a notary changes their business address or residence address, how long do
they have to notify the Secretary of State's office?
Answer: They must notify the Secretary of State by Certified mail within 30-days.

Question:​ Can a notary be guilty of an infraction if they don’t notify the Secretary of State of his
address changes within 30-days?
Answer: Yes, and the infraction can be punished by a fine not exceeding $500 (CGC 8213.5)

Question:​ Can a commercial mailbox or Post Office Box (PO Box) be listed as 1) residence
address OR 2) the principal place of business.
Answer: No.

Question:​ What addresses need to be updated if there are changes (business or personal)?
Answer: Both. Any change of address must be reported to the Secretary of State's office.

Question:​ When completing a Jurat using credible witnesses to establish the signer's identity,
how many credible witnesses do you need?
Answer: You will need one credible witness if the notary personally knows the witness OR two
credible witnesses if they don’t personally know the witness in order to establish the signer's
identity. ( 1185(b)(3) and (b) (4) )

Question:​ What is a good example of a Jurat Oath?
Answer: “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the contents of this document are the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?” (California Code of Civil Procedure
2094(2); California Evidence Code 165)

Question:​ Is a notary able to certify copies of a birth certificate?
Answer: No, a notary is not able to certify copies of any vital records such as Birth
Certificates, Marriage License, or Death Certificate. Copies of these documents may lawfully
be certified only by officials in the relevant public records office. (CGC 8230)

Question:​ What is the purpose of a Subscribing Witness?
Answer: If a person, called the principal, has signed a document but does not personally appear
before a notary public, another person can appear on the principal’s behalf to prove the principal
signed (or “executed”) the document. That person is called a subscribing witness. (Code of Civil
Procedure section 1935)

Question:​ Are their limitations to when a “Subscribing Witness” CAN NOT be used?
Answer: Yes, A proof of execution by a subscribing witness cannot be used in conjunction with
any power of attorney, quitclaim deed, grant deed (other than a trustee’s deed resulting from a
decree of foreclosure, or a nonjudicial foreclosure pursuant to Civil Code section 2924, or to a
deed of reconveyance), mortgage, deed of trust, security agreement, any instrument affecting
real property, or any instrument requiring a notary public to obtain a thumbprint from the party
signing the document in the notary public’s journal.

Question:​ When advertising in Spanish, can a person use the literal translation,​ notario
Answer: No. You cannot use the literal translation of Notary Public when advertising any
language. (CGC 8219.5)

Question:​ Do I need to state any disclaimers when advertising in a foreign language?
Answer: Yes, every notary public who is not an attorney who advertises the services of a notary
public in a language other than English by signs or other means of written communication, with
the exception of a single desk plaque, shall post with that advertisement a notice in English and
in another language which sets forth the following: (CGC 8219.5)
        i. This statement: I am not an attorney and, therefore, CANNOT give legal advice about
            immigration or any other legal matters.
       ii. The fees set by statute which a notary public may charge.

Question:​ When making a Journal entry, what would be the proper entry for the type of
Answer: The “type of document” should be listed as the title of the document which is most often
found at the top of the page.

Question:​ When filling in the “Venue Statement,” you are listing what?
Answer: You are listing the State and County in which the person appeared before the notary
public, and the notarial act took place.
Question:​ When filling in the day, month and year in the journal entry, what date should be
Answer: The date must be the one by which the person personally appeared in front of the

Question:​ When can a person use a Signature by Mark?
Answer: When the signer of an instrument cannot write (sign) his or her name, that person may
sign the document by mark. (Civil Code section 14.)

Question:​ Are witnesses required when a Signature by Mark is used?
Answer: Yes, The signer’s mark must be witnessed by two persons who must subscribe their
own names as witnesses on the document. One witness should write the person’s name next to
the person’s mark and then the witness should sign his or her name as a witness. The
witnesses are only verifying that they witnessed the individual make his or her mark on the

Question:​ Is a notary able to certify copies of powers of attorney?
Answer: Yes.

Question:​ If a notary is convicted of a felony, are you required to surrender the notary seal to
the court?
Answer: Yes, upon conviction of any felony or any crime relating to misconduct on the part of a
notary, the court shall revoke the commission of the notary public, and shall require the notary
public to surrender to the court the seal of the notary public. (CGC 8214.8)

Question:​ If a person knowingly destroys a notary journal is that a crime?
Answer: If any person shall knowingly destroy, deface, or conceal any records or papers
belonging to the office of a notary public, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and be
liable in a civil action for damages to any person injured as a result of such destruction,
defacing, or concealment. (CGC 8221)

Question:​ If a person attempts to convince a notary to make an improper notarial act, can they
be found guilty of a crime?
Answer: Yes, Any person who solicits, coerces, or in any manner influences a notary public to
perform an improper notarial act knowing that act to be an improper notarial act, including any
act required of a notary public under Section 8206, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. (CGC

Question:​ Is a notary able to notarize a signature on an immigration document?
Answer: Yes, however, they may not help advise or fill out any information unless they are
certified by the state to do so.

Question:​ Can a California registered immigration consultation or an attorney help a person
fill out immigration forms?
Answer: Yes.

Question:​ Can an immigration consultation also advertise as a notary?
Answer: NO. A notary public legally is barred from advertising in any manner whatsoever that he
or she is a notary public if the notary public promotes himself or herself as an immigration
specialist or consultant. (Government Code section 8223)

Question:​ Do the two credible witnesses need to swear (or affirm) that they personally know the
Answer: Yes, (California Civil Code 1185).

Question:​ Do the two credible witnesses need to swear (or affirm) that the signer doesn’t have
an ID to establish their own identity?
Answer: Yes, (California Civil Code 1185).

Question:​ Can any of the credible witnesses be listed in or have a financial interest in the
document being signed?
Answer: No, a credible witness must not have any financial interest or be listed in the document.
(California Civil Code 1185)

Question:​ For the privacy of a signer, can a notary skip around in their notary journal?
Answer: No. All notarial acts must be recorded in sequential order.

Question:​ What is the infraction if a notary does not willfully maintain their notary public journal?
Answer: A notary public is guilty of a misdemeanor if the notary public willfully fails to properly
maintain the notary public’s journal. (Government Code section 8228.1)

Question:​ If a notary has an outstanding court order or judgment, can they be refused to be a
Answer: Yes (CGC 8214.1)

Question:​ Is there a reason for the refusal to re-appoint as a notary due to using the phrase
Spanish, notario publico?
Answer: Yes, (CGC 8214.1).

Question:​ Is the date and time required to be recorded in the notary journal?
Answer: Yes. Date, time and type of each official act (e.g., acknowledgment, jurat) is required to
be recorded in the notary journal. (CGC 8206)

Question:​ Can a notary journal be seized by a peace officer that is investigating a crime and
has reason to believe there is evidence in the journal?
Answer: Yes, the notary public shall not surrender the journal to any other person, EXCEPT the
county clerk, pursuant to Section 8209, or immediately, or if the journal is not present then as
soon as possible, upon request to a peace officer investigating a criminal offense who has
reasonable suspicion to believe the journal contains evidence of a criminal offense.

Question:​ If a sequential journal is seized for legal reasons by a peace officer and a new
journal has been obtained, can the notary add additional entries when the journal is returned?
Answer: No. If the journal relinquished to a peace officer is returned to the notary public and a
new journal has been obtained, the notary public shall make NO new entries in the returned
journal (Section 8206).

Question:​ Is it required to record the signature of each person whose signature is being
Answer: Yes, (Section 8206).

Question:​ When recording the type of ID used, what must be included?
Answer: 1) the governmental agency issuing the document, 2) the serial or identifying number of
the document, and 3) the date of issue or expiration of the document.

Question:​ What items need to be recorded when using two credible witnesses as satisfactory
Answer: The signatures and a form of ID’s used by the credible witnesses (CGC 8206).

Question:​ If the notary doesn’t charge a fee for a notary act, can they leave the fee box blank?
Answer: No, they must write “0” or “no fee” as the fee (CGC 8206).

Question: ​What types of documents require a right thumbprint entry in the journal?
Answer: If the document to be notarized is a deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust, or other
document affecting real property or a power of attorney document, the notary public shall
require the party signing the document to place his or her right thumbprint in the journal.

Question:​ What should you do if the right thumbprint is not available?
Answer: If the right thumbprint is not available, then the notary public shall have the party use
his or her left thumb, or any available finger, and shall so indicate in the journal. If the party
signing the document is physically unable to provide a thumb or fingerprint, the notary public
shall so indicate in the journal and shall also provide an explanation of that physical condition.

Question:​ What is an Acknowledgement used for?
Answer: In the certificate of acknowledgment, the notary public certifies:
   1. That the signer personally appeared before the notary public on the date indicated in
      the county indicated;
   2. To the identity of the signer;
   3. That the signer acknowledged executing the document.

Question:​ Are there any times the right thumbprint is not required when dealing with real
Answer: Yes, it shall not apply to a trustee’s deed resulting from a decree of foreclosure or a
nonjudicial foreclosure pursuant to Section 2924 of the Civil Code, nor to a deed of

Question: ​ What does a Certificate of Acknowledgment verify?
Answer: Only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is
attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document. (California Civil Code

Question:​ Can the Notary Seal and Signature be attached to any document?
Answer: It is not acceptable to affix a notary public seal and signature to a document without the
notarial wording.

Question:​ What is a “Venu Statement”?
Answer: It states the county and state by which the notarization act took place. For example,
Sacramento County, California.

Question:​ Are their different fee structures for a notary who is appointed to a military
Answer: They are not allowed to charge a fee.

Question: ​Can I notarize a document using a LIVE video feed?
Answer: No. A video image or other form of non-physical representation is NOT a personal
appearance in front of a notary public under California State law.

Question: ​Swear vs. Affirm, what is the difference?
Swear is using God, affirm is not. There is no difference between these two terms when a
notary places a person under oath.

California Notary Study Questions: 2021

These study questions are designed to prepare you for the California Notary State Exam. They
are not intended to be used as legal references. To register for your exam please visit:

     1. Name “One” requirement for becoming a California Notary Public?
          a. Be under 18 years of age
          b. Have a criminal record
          c. Not pass the exam
          d. Be a legal resident of California

     2. Your jurisdiction will be limited to what geographical area:
           a. The entire state of California
           b. The county in which you live
           c. The city in which you work
           d. The entire United States

     3. When completing a notary by Two Credible Witness, not know to the notary public, who
        needs to be placed under oath to establish Satisfactory Evidence.
           a. Only one credible witness must take the oath
           b. Both credible witness must take the oath
           c. Both credible witnesses and the signer must take the oath.
           d. Only one credible witness and the singer must take the oath.

     4. How many days do you have to take your oath of office after your commencement date:
          a. 6 months
          b. 10 days
          c. 30 days
          d. None of the above

     5. If you request a new Certificate of Authorization, the State of California must respond
             a. One month
             b. 5 days
             c. One year
             d. 30 days

     6. The agency of the State that will give you the new certificate is the:
           a. Corporation Commissioner
           b. Bureau of Notary Publics
           c. Secretary of State
           d. Department of Real Estate

     7. Using the words ​notario publico​ to advertise your notary practice:
           a. Is encouraged
           b. Is legal only in California
           c. Is prohibited
           d. Indicates bilingual ability

     8. If a notary willingly and knowingly notarizes a real estate document that they know to be
        fraudulent, they are guilty of a:
             a. Misdemeanor
             b. Lis pendes
             c. Carpe diem
             d. Felony

     9. What statement holds true when ask to notarize a Death Certificate:
          a. Must be notarized for NO FEE
          b. You cannot notarize a Death Certificate
          c. To notarize it must be signed in the accompany of two credible witnesses
               whereas one witness must personally know the notary.
          d. The death must have taken place less than 5 years prior.

     10. A subscribing witness can bring you:
            a. Quit Claim Deed
            b. Grant Deed
            c. Mortgage
            d. Homestead Declaration

     11. If a notary states a known false fact as true, the penalty is:
              a. No penalty
              b. $1,500
              c. $10,000
              d. $75,000

     12. When using two credible witnesses, one must:
           a. Personally know the notary
           b. Must be over 21
           c. Must be fingerprinted
           d. None of the above

     13. When do you officially become a notary?
           a. When you pass the exam
           b. When the Secretary of State sends your commission
           c. When you complete your first notarial act
           d. When your oath and bond are filed
     14. The max size of a circular Notary Seal CANNOT exceed:
            a. No more than 1 inch in diameter
            b. No more than 1.5 inches in diameter
            c. No more than 2 inch in diameter
            d. There is no size restriction of a circular notary seal

     15. The max size of a square or rectangular seal CANNOT exceed:
            a. No more than 2 inches x 2 inches
            b. 1 inch in width by 2 ½ inches in length
            c. 2 ½ inches in width by 3 inches in length
            d. There are no size restrictions on a square or rectangular seal.

     16. If you are one of the following concerning a document, you must NOT notarize it:
              a. A CFO of the company presenting the document.
              b. Employee of the company listed in the document
              c. A relative of a named person in the document.
              d. Trustor or Trustee listed in the document

     17. The fine for overcharging for a non-immigration form is:
            a. Up to $10
            b. Up to $1,000
            c. Up to $75,000
            d. Up to $750

     18. The fine for failing to notify the State that your stamp or journal was lost is:
            a. Up to $10
            b. Up to $1,000
            c. Up to $1,500
            d. Up to $75

     19. Willful failure to provide a peace officer with a journal when requested is punishable by a
         civil penalty of up to:
              a. $750
              b. $1,500
              c. $500
              d. $2,500
     20. What is the penalty for failing to post signs in English and in the other language that you
         use that “I am not an attorney and, therefore, cannot give legal advice about immigration
         or any other legal matters”, when you advertise Notary Services in a language other than
         English and are not an attorney:
              a. Up to $750 fine
              b. Not less than a one-year revoke of the commission, and the second offense shall
                  be revoked permanently.
              c. Two – four years in prison
              d. $75,000 fine
     21. When a regulation states 30 days it means:
           a. Calendar days
           b. Business days
           c. Business days excluding holidays
           d. none of the above

     22. Your commission start date is dated 04/24/20 and you get your oath filed on 05/11/20.
         Your commission will expire:
            a. Immediately – you were too late
            b. 04/23/2024
            c. 05/11/2024
            d. 05/11/2021

     23. The fee for notarizing a circulator’s affidavit is:
            a. $0 (You are not allowed to charge)
            b. $7.00
            c. $15.00
            d. Negotiable

     24. A notary can certify a copy of a power of attorney according to the:
            a. Civil Code Sections 8205
            b. Section 4307 of the ​California​ ​Probate Code
            c. Bus. & Prof. Code
            d. Notary Public Code

     25. You may surrender your journal over to:
            a. Your employer, if they purchased your notary supplies
            b. Your employer, up leaving their employment
            c. A Peace Officer with probable cause
            d. All of the above

     26. During the signature by mark process, how many people write the name signer next to
         the signature by mark:
             a. Neither witness must write the person's name.
             b. Both witnesses must write the person's name.
             c. One witness shall write the person’s name next to the person’s mark.
             d. All answers are incorrect.

     27. If a notary changes their business or residence address, who must they notify within
              a. Secretary of State
              b. Local Law Enforcement
              c. County Clerk where your oath and bond ar field
              d. Both the Secretary of State and County Clerk’s office
     28. If you move, you must contact the Secretary of State's office in writing, by certified
         mail, within:
              a. Immediately
              b. 10 days
              c. 30 days
              d. 6 months

     29. If you surrender your journal to a proper authority, you must notify the Secretary of State
              a. 1 day
              b. 10 days
              c. 30 days
              d. 1 month

     30. A commission is valid for what period of time ______ years:
            a. It never expires.
            b. 2 years
            c. 4 years
            d. 6 years

     31. Your notary surety bond is worth ______ in order to protect the public financially from the
         possibility of a negligent mistake or initial misconduct:
            a. $15,000
            b. $1,500
            c. $75,000
            d. $35,000

     32. The statute of limitations for making a statement known to be false is:
            a. One year
            b. Two years
            c. Three years
            d. Four years

     33. One stipulation of an acceptable form of a an identification document is it must be
         current or issued within:
             a. 1 year
             b. 2 years
             c. 5 years
             d. 10 years

     34. Which of the following does NOT need to be on a U.S. passport?
            a. Picture of holder
            b. Holder’s signature
            c. Description of the Person
            d. Date of issue
     35. Notary certificates are signed by:
            a. Notary Public
            b. Secretary of State
            c. Client
            d. Lender

     36. A Driver's License Issued by a State other than California must include:
            a. Photograph & Signature
            b. Physical Description
            c. Serial or other Identifying Number
            d. All of the above

     37. When administering the oath:
           a. The signer must raise their right hand
           b. Both the singer and notary public must raise their right hands
           c. The signer must swear to god
           d. None; raising right hand is not required

     38. One requirement of being a Notary Public is to:
            a. Keep a photocopy of every document notarized
            b. Keep their stamp and journal under their direct control at all times
            c. Refuse to notarize any document that is not in English.
            d. None of the above

     39. T​o ​resign your commission​, s​ end​ a letter of resignation to the ​______​ and ​deliver all​ of
         your​ notarial records and ​papers to​ the county in which ​your​ current oath of office is on
         file within 30 days and destroy ​your​ seal​:
              a. Secretary of State office
              b. County Clerk where your current oath is on file
              c. Your employer
              d. None of the above

     40. Once your commission has been issued and an applicant fails to file the oath and bond
         within 30-calendar-days, what do you do:
             a. You will need to have your fingerprints retaken at a Live Scan Site
             b. You must pay $20 to reapply
             c. You must complete a new application (with all required documents).
             d. All of the above

     41. A notary seeking reappointment must retake the notary exam:
            a. Any time after you have to pay a fine
            b. Only once if your notary commission lapses
            c. Every 4 years
            d. None of the above
     42. The fine for willful failure to notify the Secretary of State of an address or name
         change is no more than:
            a. $500
            b. $750
            c. $1,500
            d. $15,000

     43. Notaries can/must withhold their notarial services:
            a. When they can not directly communicate with the signer.
            b. When a document is incomplete
            c. When the notary knows the document to be false.
            d. All of the above

     44. Which is a true statement?
            a. It is the notary’s duty to draft power of attorney, mortgages and deeds when
            b. A notary does not have to charge a fee
            c. A right thumb print is required for ALL notary acts
            d. All statement are true

     45. A notary may complete the following types of notarial acts:
            a. Notarize a document in a foreign language
            b. Place a person under oath.
            c. Notarize a relative’s documents, so long as they have NO direct financial benefit
            d. All of the above

     46. Signers of the what following document(s) must place their right thumbprint in the
             a. On all documents notarized
             b. Power of Attorney
             c. Deed or document affecting real property
             d. Both B & C

     47. A notary must purchase _______ in order to become a notary public:
            a. Purchase a Notary Surety Bond in the amount of $15,000
            b. Purchase a Notary Surety Bond in the amount of $35,000.
            c. Purchase, Errors and Omission Insurance for No less than $5,000
            d. NO answer is correct.
     48. A suitable oat, affirmation, or deloration to an action or a proceeding may be
         administered by obtaining an affirmative response to which of of the following
             a. Do you solemnly state that the evidence you shall give in this issue (or matter)
                shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
             b. Do you solemnly state, under penalty of perjury, that the evidence that you shall
                give in this issue (or matter) shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
                the truth?
             c. Neither A or B are permissible.
             d. Both A & B are permissible.

     49. A Notary (who is NOT an immigration consultant or Attorney) may help in completing:
            a. Any legal document present to the notary
            b. ONLY Immigration documents in English
            c. ONLY Immigation documents for Mexican citizens
            d. They can’t help complete any documents.

     50. A notary may NOT notarize:
            a. When they are the attorney who drafted the Trust deed for their client and they
                are not named as a beneficiary or have a financial interest.
            b. When the document is for a State other than California.
            c. For a spouse
            d. When they are a mortgagor in a transaction

     51. For a first-time applicant seeking to obtain their notarial commission, they must:
            a. Pass an exam
            b. Be fingerprinted as part of a thorough background check
            c. Be at least 18 years of age
            d. All of the above

     52. A Certificate of Authorization to manufacture a notary public seal may be obtained from:
            a. The governor’s office
            b. The Department of Real Estate
            c. The Secretary of State
            d. None of the above

     53. Satisfactory evidence of identity can NOT be obtained from _____ even if they include: A
         Photo, Signature, serial or ID number, and description of person.
             a. A State Government Issued ID card that is EXPIRED and was issued less than 5
                years ago.
             b. Passport of a Forign Country
             c. California ID card this NOT a Driver's License
             d. Company Issued ID Badge.
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