Get Your Mortgage License in California
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How-To Licensing Guide
In order to become a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator in the state of California you’ll need to complete the following steps:
Request your personal NMLS account
The NMLS system is used to process MLO licensing requests for all 50 states, including California. Creating an account is a simple process that only takes a few minutes to complete.
- Visit the NMLS online registration portal to request an NMLS account.
- Select the Individual option
- If prompted, complete the security captcha and click next
- Provide the required information and submit your application
Complete Your California NMLS Pre-License Education
To become a California-licensed MLO you'll need to complete the required 20-hour NMLS S.A.F.E pre-licensing course along with any additional course work required by either of California state licensing agencies: The California Department of Financial Protection & Innovation (DFPI) or The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) — formerly the California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE).
NMLS SAFE Mortgage License Training - Required
All states require 20 hours of mortgage education from an NMLS approved mortgage school. If you are seeking a new mortgage license, be sure to enroll in the 20 hours SAFE course in addition to your state-specific education requirements.
CA-DFPI License Overview
The CA-DFPI license is required for any mortgage loan originator employed by a DFPI licensed lender or broker. This applies to any mortgage lender governed by either California Finance Law (CFL) or thr California Residential Mortgage Lending Act (CRMLA).
- Your Employer must also be licensed by the CA-DFPI.
- Easier license to achieve.
- Process residential mortgage loan applications or negotiate the terms of residential mortgage loans.
- Requires a Sponsorship from a DFPI licensed Employer.
More information available on the DFPI Website.
Find California (DFPI) New License Courses
DRE License Overview
The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) issues MLO endorsements to licensed real estate agents. Pursuing a DRE endorsed license will give you the most career flexibility, however, you will need to complete and maintain the required Real Estate education requirements.
- Requires a valid California Real Estate License.
- Requires additional Real Estate Education.
- Provides Greater Career Flexibility.
- Requires a Sponsorship from a DRE licensed Employer.
More information available on the DRE Website.
Find California (DRE) New License Courses
Pass the NMLS Mortgage licensing exam
Once you've completed your pre-license education, you'll need to schedule an appointment to take the National Test Component with Uniform State Content through your NMLS account.
SAFE MLO National Test Component
The SAFE MLO exam covers federal mortgage related laws, ethics, Mortgage loan originator activities, and general mortgage knowledge. Effective 4/5/21, test details are as follows:
- 120 questions (115 scored)
- 190 minutes
- Cost $110
Uniform State Content (UST)
The UST portion of the exam covers:
- Regulatory authority, responsibilities and limitations
- Definitions and documents
- License law and regulation
California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation
CA-DFPI requires at least 20 hours of pre-license education and meet one of the following three conditions:
- Passing results on both the National and California State components of the SAFE Test, or
- Passing results on both the National and Stand-alone UST components of the SAFE Test, or
- Passing results on the National Test Component with Uniform State Content
Find California (DFPI) Exam Prep
The California Department of Real Estate
The California DRE requires the applicant to have pass the DRE administered examination (scheduled through the CA-DRE) in addition to the achieving a passing score on the National Test Component.
Find California (DRE) Exam Prep
Apply for your NMLS license
Once you completed the required pre-licensing courses and achieved passing scores on the National and any applicable state required tests, you will be able to apply for your mortgage loan originator license on the NMLS website.
To apply for your California MLO license:
- Login in to your NMLS account.
- Select the filing tab on the top of the screen.
- Select Individual if your applying as an individual.
- Click Request New/Update.
- If you’re directly responsible for the paying the filing fees, click continue.
- If you’re already employed with a mortgage company, your employer may handle this step for you. These fees are not refundable. Check with your employer before you proceed.
- Click Add to apply for your CA license.
- Select the appropriate California License and click Next.
- Select the California Mortgage Loan Originator License and click Next.
- Verify that the information is correct and click Next.
- Read the final page carefully before proceeding. If the information is correct click Finish.
You’re now ready to finalize your application.
Apply For A License
Background Checks, Credit Check, and Fees
The SAFE act established licensing and registration standards for all Mortgage Loan Originators. In order to receive your California MLO certification, you'll need to provide the following information and pay the associated fees:
Create a Fieldprint account and register for an appointment.
Criminal Background Check
Initiate a criminal background check through your NMLS account.
Authorize a credit report via your NMLS account.
In order to complete the final step in becoming a fully licensed California MLO your NMLS ID will need to be sponsored by a state licensed employer. This sponsorship tells the governing agencies that your employer will be supervising your individual license. You can submit your sponsorship through your NMLS ID. Once your employer sponsorship is associated with your NMLS ID, you'll be ready to do business as an MLO in the state of California.
Your success is our #1 priority
OnCourse Learning empowers aspiring mortgage loan originators and seasoned mortgage loan officers to take their learning experience to the next level. Get and maintain your NMLS license with:
- NMLS-approved mortgage pre-licensing, continuing education and late CE courses
- Exam prep tools to help you pass your NMLS license exam
- Over 50 years of mortgage education experience
- We’ve helped over 300,000 mortgage brokers begin and advance their careers.
"This was well organized, wonderfully set up to give you ample opportunities to practice the information given through exams, quizzes, discussion scenarios, and message board."Gianna G.