Get Your Mortgage License in California

In order to become a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator in the state of California, you’ll need to complete the following steps.

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.

  1. Visit the NMLS online registration portal to request an NMLS account.
  2. Select the Individual option.
  3. If prompted, complete the security captcha and click next.
  4. Provide the required information and submit your application.

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).

Required NMLS SAFE mortgage license training

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.

Overview of California-DFPI License

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 the 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 CA-DFPI Packages

Overview of California-DRE License

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 CA-DRE Packages

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
  • Compliance

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:

  1. Passing results on both the National and California State components of the SAFE Test, or
  2. Passing results on both the National and Stand-alone UST components of the SAFE Test, or
  3. Passing results on the National Test Component with Uniform State Content

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.

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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.

How 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 applying as an individual.
  • Select 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.
  • Carefully review the final page before proceeding. Click Finish.

You are now ready to finalize your application.

Apply now

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:

Request Fee Required
NMLS Processing $30 YES
FBI CBC $36.25 YES
Credit Report $15 YES


Create a Fieldprint account and register for an appointment.

Criminal Background Check

Initiate a criminal background check via your NMLS account.

Credit Report

Authorize a credit report via your NMLS account.

Every states requires 20 hours of NMLS-approved pre-licensing education. A handful of states require education specific to the state. To find out how many hours you are required to take of pre-license training, see our state requirements guide.

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.

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