Yesterday I wrote about what to expect if you become a California bail bondsman. If you got through that and you’re back for more, you’re ready for the steps in obtaining your bail license. Now that I completed my pre-licensing class, I’m the expert here (ha ha)!

So, without further fan fare, here are the necessary steps to becoming a licenced bail bondsman in California:

  1. You must have lived in California for least 2 years and be prepared to provide proof.
  2. You must be 18 years old or older.
  3. You need a clean record. Kind of an obvious one since you are working within the legal system, but many people don’t realize that to be a bail bondsman, you must have no felony convictions on your record. (Unlike the NFL which employs many people without clean records.)
  4. The California Department of Insurance regulates the bail industry. For someone interested in becoming a bail bondsman, you will spend a bit of time with this department. At the DOI, as it’s known, you will find all the necessary forms for becoming a bail agent. There’s quite a list of fees, forms, and applications, so be prepared to put a side a weekend to get through everything.
  5. You must also get 12 hours of classroom study, called Pre Licensing Education. Usually available on weekends. Make sure they are approved providers.
  6. After taking the class there is an exam that must be passed (that’s next up for me). Find an actual examination site through the DOI’s website. Online examinations are also available, fill out form Individual Application, Form LIC 441-9 and provide your email address and the DOI will email you an online examination schedule for you to choose from.
  7. With the test passed, fingerprints are done (for another fee, of course), and all that’s left is finding a surety – an insurance company to underwrite your bonds. Then, filing the necessary applications and paying the fees to the Department of Insurance.

A final word about starting a bail bonds business: Writing bail is risky and at times can get very complicated. Sure, some of the smaller, $10K bonds, are quick and easy but you will learn in time that almost every bail bond is different. Obtaining the knowledge to make the right decisions can only come from working in the industry. It only takes one or two mistakes before you find yourself liable for a bail you shouldn’t have written and potentially out of business. So make sure you are mentored in to the bail bonds industry before you decide to go out on your own.

Good Luck!

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  1. Matt
    August 18, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Very insightful advice for a person new to the business! I agree….Starting a bail bonds business can’t be done in haste….Especially in California where the standard bail amounts are quite a bit higher than here in Las Vegas.

  2. Daryl
    August 18, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Thanks Matt. I remembered from when I was in class how many interesting people were there and that they were all ready to write bonds and none of them had any experience. Both the Bail pre-licensing professors and I pled with them to get a mentor (licensed bail agent with a few years of experience) or they’d be in big trouble.

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