NMLS-Approved Pre-License – License Application FAQs

Examples of some license application questions are below:

Q: What is the difference between NMLS registration and licensing?

A: All mortgage loan originators must have an account with the NMLS. This creates a centralized national database of disciplinary information for individuals originating residential loans. Registration is the only SAFE Act requirement for mortgage loan originators who are employees of a federally regulated depository institution or its first-tier subsidiary (as described above).

For all other mortgage loan originators, including those working for Mortgage Brokers and Mortgage Lenders, the SAFE Act requires state licensure for each state where the individual originates loans. The licensure process will be facilitated through the NMLS and its systems. State-licensed mortgage loan originators are subject to the education and testing requirements of the SAFE Act.

Q: Where do I go to apply for the license?

A: License application will be made with the NMLS directly, and information on getting started for state-licensed individuals has information available on the NMLS website. 

Q: How much are the fees to apply for a license?

A: It varies on state licensure. After selecting the state, further details can be reviewed for the requirements checklist for individual licenses for mortgage loan originators. Details of this can be found on the NMLS website.

Q: What types of background checks are required?

A: Individuals must undergo a criminal background check and a character and fitness check, including a credit check. Further information can be found on the NMLS website.

Q: When must I submit the required background checks?

A: Before applying for state licensure. Further details of background checks will be available on the NMLS website.

Q: Do I need to be sponsored as a Mortgage Loan Originator?

A: Yes. To successfully act as a Mortgage Loan Originator, it must be sponsored by a company. Resources for individuals are available at the NMLS website.

Q: Is NMLS registration also required for Mortgage Brokers and Lenders (companies)?

A: Yes, in addition to individual mortgage loan originators, a mortgage brokerage or mortgage lending company will create a record in the NMLS system. Using this "One Record Concept," NMLS allows for the creation and maintenance of a single record for each company, regardless of the number of jurisdictions in which it is licensed.

This single record may be used to apply for, maintain, renew, or surrender licenses in all jurisdictions participating in NMLS. Companies will also be able to create and maintain a single record for each branch, control person, or mortgage loan originator.

The use of any of these forms is governed by the regulations of the state in which you are seeking licensure, not by NMLS.

Additional information is available at the NMLS website.

Q: Are there any mortgage loan originators who are NOT required to become licensed?

A: Yes. Mortgage loan originators who are employees of a depository institution (a bank that takes deposits) regulated by the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve, CFPB, NCUA, or Farm Credit Administration are exempt from the state licensure and testing requirements.  However, they must become registered MLOs through NMLS and receive education commensurate with their involvement in loan origination. Although not specifically required to take NMLS-approved courses, those can certainly satisfy the requirements of the Act.

Q: If I work for a depository institution, do I need to take the education courses or examinations required by the SAFE Act?

A: If you work for an insured depository institution regulated by OCC, FDIC, FED, and NCUA or the Farm Credit Administration, you are not required to take the NMLS Approved pre-license or continuing education courses or examinations.

You still must receive education commensurate with your origination involvement, and the relevant NMLS-approved pre-license and continuing education courses can satisfy this requirement. Additionally, it would be a good idea if you have ever considered changing employment and working for a state-licensed lender or broker.

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