Step 1: Register with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS)

  1. Visit the NMLS Resource Center to create an account.
  2. Click on the "Log in to NMLS" button
  3. Click on "Request an Account"
  4. Choose "Individual" option
  5. Enter all required information and ensure it is correct
  6. Click "Finish"

Step 2: Complete NMLS-approved pre-license education (PE)

There are two types of MLO licenses in California: CA-DFPI and CA-DRE. The pre-license requirements are slightly different for each.

To obtain a CA-DFPI license, you must complete a total of 20 hours, including 2 hours of California-specific education. Our California-DFPI MLO Pre-License Package satisfies all pre-license requirements.

To obtain a CA-DRE license, you must only take 20 hours of PE. No California-specific content is required. Taking our 20-hour National MLO Pre-License Course will fulfill this requirement.

Step 3: Pass the SAFE MLO Test

You need to schedule an appointment to take the exam using your NMLS account. The cost of this exam is $110.

Step 4: Apply for your California MLO license

After passing the SAFE exam, submit your license application through the NMLS website. In this step, you must complete the Individual Form (MU4).

Step 5: Complete a criminal background check

You need to authorize an FBI background check via your NMLS account. Then, schedule a fingerprinting appointment if NMLS does not have your fingerprints currently on file.

Step 6: Authorize a credit report

You will need to submit a credit report request via your NMLS account. If this is your first time requesting this report, you will need to complete the identity verification process, where you will be asked about your credit history.

Step 7: Pay all necessary fees

CA-DFPI license fees:

  • $30 NMLS initial processing fee
  • $300 CA-DFPI application fee
  • $15 credit report fee
  • $36.25 FBI criminal background check

CA-DRE license fees:

  • $30 NMLS initial processing fee
  • $300 CA-DRE license/registration fee
  • $15 credit report fee
  • $36.25 FBI criminal background check

Note: All fees collected through the NMLS are not refundable.

Step 8: Get hired

To become fully licensed in California, you must be sponsored by a state-licensed employer. Your employer must submit the sponsorship request. Until you are sponsored, your license may be issued as "Approved-Inactive." Under this status, you cannot conduct business as an MLO.

You must first grant your company access through your NMLS account. Once this is done, your employer can submit the sponsorship request. Learn how to give your company access here.