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:

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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.
Mortgage Customer

Step 1

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.

  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

Step 2

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 Business Oversight (DBO) 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 a NMLS approved mortgage school. If you're seeking a new Mortgage License be sure to enroll in a comprehensive 20 Hour SAFE course in addition to your state required education or sign-up for a single course that satisfies all of the CA MLO requirements.

CA-DBO License Overview

The CA-DBO license is required for any mortgage loan originator employed by a DBO 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-DBO.
  • Easier license to achieve.
  • Process residential mortgage loan applications or negotiate the terms of residential mortgage loans.
  • Requires a Sponsorship from a DBO licensed Employer.

More information available on the DBO Website.

Find Available California (DBO) 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 Available California (DRE) New License Courses

Step 3

Pass the NMLS Mortgage licensing exam

Once you’ve completed your pre-license education, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to take either The National Test Component or The National Test Component with Uniform State Content through your NMLS account. In addition, you will have to satisfy any additional testing required by either the CA-DBO or DRE.

SAFE MLO National Test Component

The SAFE MLO exam covers federal mortgage related laws, ethics, Mortgage loan originator activities, and general mortgage knowledge.

  • 125 questions (115 scored)
  • 190 minutes
  • Cost $110

Uniform State Content

Although it's not required in California, you can still take and the UST portion of the exam, which covers:

  • State law and regulation definitions
  • License law and regulation
  • Compliance
CA-DBO Test Component

The CA-DBO requires the applicant to pass the California State Component in addition to the National Test Component. The State component can be scheduled from your NMLS account.

Find Available California (DBO) Exam Prep Courses

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 Available California (DRE) Exam Prep Courses

Step 4

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

Step 5

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:

Request Fee Required
NMLS Processing $30 YES
FBI CBC $36.25 YES
Credit Report $15 YES
Ex: DRE Application 300 DBO License Only

Create a Fieldprint account and register for an appointment.

Criminal Background Check

Initiate a criminal background check through your NMLS account.

Credit Report

Authorize a credit report via your NMLS account.

Step 6

Get Hired

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.