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The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (SAFE Act) established requirements for the licensing and registration of all Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs). Below you will find the profession requirements needed to become a state-licensed mortgage loan officer.

NMLS Criminal Background Check (CBC)

Any person looking to acquire their mortgage loan originator license (MLO) will need a criminal background check performed through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS.)

Cost Involved:

Live Scan (electronic)                                                      $36.25 CBC Processing Fee


Paper Card Capture*                                                    $36.25 CBC Processing Fee

                                                                                        $10.00 Card Packet Fee

                                                                                           $46.25 Total

*The NMLS states paper card capture is more due to manual processing of fingerprints.

Steps for completing NMLS Criminal Background Check:

Step 1: Pay for a Criminal Background Check

Do you have an NMLS account yet? If not you will need to set this up at www.nationwidelicensingsystem.org If you already have one sign in and follow the steps below.

  • Click on the “Composite view” tab
  • Then select “View Individual” in the sub menu
  • Once here, select “view criminal background check request” on the left menu bar

Here you will need to pay for the background check, once this is done you will be able to schedule your appointment for fingerprinting.

Step 2: Schedule a Fingerprinting

You will need to setup an account with fieldprint before you can schedule an appointment. At the time of scheduling an appointment, you must have valid, unexpired, government-issued photo identification. Once setup with an account the MLO will be able to:

  • Check their appointments status
  • Re-schedule their appointment
  • View and print their receipt

If you have problems or questions with the system they have a customer service line that can be reached at 877-614-4361.

Step 3: Viewing CBC Results

Fingerprints are automatically processed by the FBI and sent to the NMLS within 48 hours of submission. Results can be seen in your NMLS account.

NMLS Credit Report Requirement

Every state licensed mortgage loan originator must have their credit report processed through the NMLS. The credit report functionality in NMLS will require the MLO to complete an identity verification process in which the MLO will sign into the NMLS site and answer personal questions about themselves. Credit report fees are $15.00 and non-refundable.

TIP* If you are looking to become a loan officer but your credit might be holding you back, we recommend contacting a credit agency. They are great at finding negative credit errors and helping boost your credit score. We recommend visiting CreditRepair.com or giving them a call to see if they can help 855-429-1525.

NMLS Pre-Licensure Education Requirements

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Act of 2008 (SAFE Act) requires all state-licensed mortgage loan originators (MLOs) complete pre-licensure education. In order to meet education and licensing guidelines, one must complete 20 hours of NMLS approved education, which includes the following.

  1. 3 hours of Federal law and regulations;
  2. 3 hours of ethics, which include, instruction on fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues;
  3. 2 hours training on standards for the nontraditional mortgage product market;
  4. 12 hours of undefined instruction on mortgage origination.

Note: While the SAFE Act requires the NMLS to approve pre-licensure and continuing education, it is left up to the individual state to set their own education requirements.

Please refer to our loan officer blog to get full details on your specific state education requirements or select your State through our NMLS approved course provider.

NMLS National and State Testing

The SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator test is comprised of two parts, the National component and State component. Please note that many states require you to pass National and State tests before you are able to submit an application through the NMLS.

  • National Component – All state licensed MLOs must pass the National Component of the SAFE MLO test.
  • State Component – All state licensed MLOs must pass the State component of the SAFE MLO test in which they plan to practice. (If you plan on providing loans in multiple states you must pass each test for each state.)

Federally registered MLOs are not required to take either National or State component of the SAFE MLO test.

If you do not pass a component of the test, there is a waiting period to re-take the test.

  • Initial fail of the test requires waiting 30 days to re-take
  • 2nd fail of the test requires waiting 30 days to re-take
  • 3rd fail of the test requires waiting 180 days to re-take

Note: After the 3rd re-take and 180 days has passed, the cycle repeats. For example, if you were to fail a 4th time you will only need to wait 30 days to re-take the test.

The following resources provided by the NMLS will help provide you with more information about the test:

SAFE Act – Loan Officer License Requirements

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