We’ve designed this to be helpful, informative, and a little bit sarcastic. We find that dry humor and laughter make the licensing process just a little bit easier to handle. We hope that you do too.

Starting Your Company: Great, you’re doing this thing! First, you’ll need a corporation or limited liability company and authority to do business in each state that you plan to lend in. Be ready for lots of forms, name searches, payments, and paper cuts. Be careful and pay attention to the small things - mistakes will lead to rejected filings and even extra payments! Don’t expect to be able to file all documents online and know that some states will take weeks to process your filings, even if you pay extra to expedite them. So, make sure everything is perfect the first time around! Read instructions carefully and completely.

Learning A Whole New World In NMLS: You’ll need to become an NMLS expert, fast! Expect to file MU1 (Company), MU2 (Qualifying Individual/Owner/Control Person), MU3 (Branch), MU4 (Individual), Financial Statements, Surety Bonds, MCR (Mortgage Call Report), Testing/Education, and renewal filings throughout your company’s lifespan. They all tie together, and things aren’t always intuitive. Make sure to ask for a lot of help and leave yourself extra time! Don’t worry, with any luck you’ll eventually memorize the NMLS call center number.

Getting Insurance, Surety Bonds and Financial Statements: Chances are high that you will need surety bonds, errors and omissions insurance, a fidelity bond, other types of insurance, and company financial statements. There are many types of financial statements such as unaudited, compiled, reviewed, certified, and audited financial statements. There are also different types of surety bonds in widely different amounts. Find an insurance and surety bond broker that you can trust! You’re also going to need a great CPA. We know, it’s a lot.

Applying for the Right License Type: Mortgage brokers need a mortgage broker license. Simple, right? Not so fast! Every state defines things differently. You might need a mortgage banker license in one state, a mortgage broker license in another, and a dual authority license in yet another state. Be prepared to study NMLS checklists (you know where to find those, right?), call and email state regulators, and probably even research state laws and regulations. Why do you need to do all of this? Believe it or not, some state regulators will not help you because they will only send you copies of their state’s laws without answering your actual questions. So, you need to do your research to make sure you apply for the right license. This is really important because NMLS fees are not refundable and you won’t get wasted time back.

So Many Fingerprints! If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to use existing fingerprints in NMLS for your FBI background check. Less lucky? Perhaps you or other owners and executives will need to submit manual fingerprint cards and get additional state live scans. There are several states out there that require you to perform state background checks using fingerprint cards that they must mail to you. You’ll need to request those, and perhaps even fill out and sign a form before you’ll be allowed to even make the request. When you do request cards, make sure to request the right ones for the right license type! Fingerprint cards must be filled out in black ball point ink, and then fingerprints must be rolled at a police department or other government agency, and then they must be sent them to the right place with the right fees. Sometimes, you need to pay online and print a form to mail them. Some states want one check for all of the applicants. Other states want an individual check for each applicant. Some states will return your check because they want a money order. Sometimes, even we have trouble keeping it straight!

Personal Financial Statements, References and Good Credit: Ready to be a successful business owner? This is where the regulatory version of a colonoscopy comes in. Some states are going to require you to provide detailed personal financial statements on the forms that they provide. Many states are going to run a credit check. Every state is going to ask detailed disclosure questions. Have a less than stellar record? Be prepared to provide solid explanations and supporting documents. Even with a great background, you may also be required to provide bank and business references. We’ll skip talking about the personal financial guarantees that you might have to sign to obtain credit and surety bonds…

Sign here, and here, and here, and here… so many documents, so little time! Think your borrowers have it bad? Get ready to sign, notarize, upload and mail any number of different state-required documents. You may just start dreaming of affidavits, certifications, and forms. You need to complete the right forms, sign in the right places, and then send them off to the right places. There’s no rocket license. We jest. Please make sure to choose a speedy shipping option with tracking – deliveries are known to sit and linger in certain offices across the country. Hey, we can’t license you because we never got that surety bond you sent us!

Those dreaded license items: If you are doing this on your own for the first time, chances are that you didn’t submit perfect license applications. Sometimes, even perfect applications aren’t perfect once the regulator reviews them. In a few days, weeks, or even months, your state regulators are going to come calling with license items. License item is a fancy way of saying that you did something wrong or are missing something that’s required. You’ll need to correct the license item, typically by a short deadline, and then wait days, weeks or even months for the regulator to re-review your application. Don’t even think about missing your deadline, or your state regulator may consider your application abandoned and force you to start over from scratch and pay again. Did you make your deadline? Excellent. Now, hurry up and wait because the state regulators work hard but don’t have deadlines. This is how it works.

Could someone please call me back? Like we mentioned, state regulators are hardworking folks, but they’re busy and are not always responsive. Once you track down the right person at the right regulator you might need a little luck (or better yet, friendly persistence) to hear back from them. Sometimes, luck and persistence may fail you when your email bounces back or their voicemail box is full. Yet, Keep calm and license on – we’ve actually found that the most curt and stressed out people can end up being the most helpful while the friendliest regulator may look at your company’s entire NMLS profile with a microscope and issue more license items than you knew existed. At the end of the day, we’re all people and you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

But, I have a company to run! In case you haven’t noticed, the licensing process is going to take up a lot of your time. You might want to make a game plan and estimate how much time you think this will take. All done? Great! Now, take that time estimate you just came up with and multiply it by at least four. Or ten. We’re serious. The process from start to finish is intensive and time consuming, even for the experts on the best of days. You can do this on your own, but just know that it will definitely come at a cost both financially and in terms of your time and resources. Only you can decide if it’s worth it. We offer flat rates to make that decision easier for you.

Overwhelmed? At Lynx Licensing, this is what we do. Let us help you to avoid a lot of the pain, frustration and wasted time that even the smartest and most dedicated mortgage professionals experience when they try to obtain mortgage licenses themselves. We do what we do so that you can do what you do – run your company and help your borrowers to realize the American dream of home ownership. Call us today at (312) 588-6800 or email our President, Ryan at ryan at lynxlicensing dot com. We’re always here to help.

On May 15, 2018, the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions issued a questions & answers guide to help explain the mortgage license requirements that will change in Indiana as of July 1, 2018. Prior to a year ago on July 1, 2017, the Department required mortgage lenders to have and maintain two separate licenses to engage in first lien and second lien mortgages. Now, lenders only need to apply for a Mortgage Lender License which will permit them to originate first and second mortgage loans (and lenders that had both licenses in the past were automatically converted). Although this change already went into affect last year, Indiana passed a new law (HEA 1397 - an Act to amend the Indiana Code concerning financial institutions) which introduced technical changes that make it clear that a single Mortgage Lender license permits both first lien and second lien mortgage lending. There are a few other tweaks to such as a slightly different definition of mortgage loan originator, but we didn't find any changes that would impact our lender, company, broker or individual mortgage loan originator clients.

  • Ryan Kerian

Editors note: These amendments don't take effect until November 24, 2019 but are still great news for our industry!

A little known provision of the bill to reform Dodd-Frank that was signed into law by the President on May 24th (Public Law 114-174) has a major impact on federal loan originators moving to a state-regulated employer, and state-regulated loan originators moving from state to state. Beginning November 24, 2019, both groups can start originating loans immediately while their state license applications are pending, so long as certain criteria is met. If you work for a bank and want to move to a state-regulated company, or if you're a state-regulated loan originator wanting to offer loans in a new state, read on to see if you'll qualify.

Temporary Authority for Loan Originators Moving From a Depository Non-Depository Institution

If you are a registered loan originator (depository institution) and become employed at a state-regulated (non-depository) institution, you can now temporarily originate loans if:

  1. you've never had a loan originator license denied, revoked, or suspended,

  2. you've never been subject to or served a cease and desist order,

  3. you've never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that would preclude loan originator licensure, and

  4. you've applied to be a state-licensed loan originator in the state you wish to originate, and e) you've been registered in NMLS as a loan originator during the one (1) year period preceding your application date.

If you meet this criteria, your authority to temporarily originate loans will last until a) you withdraw your application, b) the state denies or issues a notice of its intent to deny your application, c) the state grants your application, or d) 120 days after your application submission (whichever is earlier).

Temporary Authority for State Loan Originators Moving To Another State

If you are a mortgage loan originator (non-depository/state regulated) and your employer has a company license in the new state you want to originate in, you can now temporarily originate loans in the new state if:

  1. a) you've never had a loan originator license denied, revoked, or suspended,

  2. you've never been subject to or served a cease and desist order,

  3. you've never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that would preclude loan originator licensure,

  4. you've applied for a mortgage loan originator license in the new state you wish to originate in, and

  5. you've been licensed in NMLS as a loan originator in another state during the thirty (30) day period preceding your application date.

If you meet this criteria, your authority to temporarily originate loans in the new state will last until a) you withdraw your application, b) the state denies or issues a notice of its intent to deny your application, c) the state grants your application, or d) 120 days after your application submission (whichever is earlier).

Need Licensing Help?

If your state-regulated (non-depository) mortgage company needs help with getting a federally registered loan originator licensed quickly, or you want to save time and money on getting your loan originators licensed in new states, contact us for help at or call us at (312) 588-6800. These changes may still be far away, but our expert mortgage licensing services can help you submit your license applications more quickly and with less effort.

Located in Raleigh, North Carolina

ryan at lynxlicensing dot com


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