How to Obtain a California Mortgage Loan Originator License


In order to perform residential mortgage loan activities in California, real estate licensees must obtain a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license endorsement. Mandated requirements are based on the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE), a federal law signed into law in 2008. The SAFE Act requirements were added to California state law through Senate Bill 36, enacted in 2009. A MLO is required to take residential mortgage loan applications or negotiate terms of a residential loan, and to be compensated for arranging the loan. A residential loan is secured by real property with a residential structure of 1-4 units.

There are two ways you can obtain your Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license endorsement:

A. Through the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) if you currently have a Real Estate license, plan to obtain Real Estate license, or would like to conduct business as a Real Estate Agent in the near future.

B. Through the California Department of Business Oversight (CalDBO) if you do not have or plan to obtain a Real Estate license


A. Pre-licensure Education: Complete 20 hours of NMLS approved pre-licensure education courses, including 2 hours of California specific laws.
B. Testing: Passing score on both the National and California State components of the SAFE Test
C. Pass Criminal Background Check:   FBI criminal history background check.
D. FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY-CREDIT REPORT REQUIREMENT: The SAFE Act requires that mortgage loan originator applicants have demonstrated financial responsibility, character, and general fitness such as to command the confidence of the community and to warrant a determination that the applicant will operate honestly, fairly, and effectively.

To learn more, please visit the NMLS Resource Center