All escrow agents performing escrow services in California are either "licensed" or "controlled" escrow companies. A licensed escrow company (also known as in independent escrow company) is licensed by the Department of Business Oversight.
If you are not exempt from getting licensed and you wish to perform escrow services, you will need to get a California Escrow License.
How to get a California Escrow License
Step #1: Become member of Escrow Agents' Fidelity Corporation (EAFC)
An escrow agent must be a member of the EAFC if they plan to engage in escrow services. EAFC is organized for the purpose of indemnifying the members against losses sustained as a result of fraud, theft, or embezzlement.
There is a membership fee to join.
Step #2: Complete California Escrow License Application
There is a $625 fee for filing an application for your first location.
For each additional location, there is a $425 filing fee, plus a $100 investigation fee for each location.
Step #3: Purchase a Fidelity Bond
A Fidelity Bond is a form of Employee Dishonesty Coverage that protects companies against financial losses (either monetary or physical) that are caused by fraudulent or dishonest employees. Your Fidelity Bond must be for no less than $125,000 coverage.
You can learn more about Fidelity Bonds.
Step #4: Purchase a California Escrow Agent Bond
A California Escrow Agent Bond is a type of surety bond that is required to secure your California Escrow License. You must file a bond for at least $25,000 coverage. Your bond amount might need to be for $50,000 coverage depending on the liability of you/your company.
The bond must be increased $5,000 for each additional licensed office location.
Step #5: Meet Requirements
Before submitting your license application and bond(s), make sure you meet the following requirements:
- Liquid assets of $25,000 over current liabilities
- Tangible assets in excess of total liabilities of $50,000
- Manager who possesses a minimum of 5 years of escrow services to be stationed at office location during all business hours
- All stockholders, officers, directors, managers and employees must have background checks performed by the Department.
- These background checks include obtaining criminal history information through the Department of Justice and conducting civil court checks for activities that would indicate previous involvement in fraud, embezzlement, fraudulent conversion, or misappropriation of property.
Step #6: Submit Paperwork
Submit your paperwork to the California Department of Business Oversight.
You will be notified within 45 days that your application has been accepted. If your application is missing information, you will be contacted to re-submit.
For more information, visit the FAQ page on the California DBO website.