How to Use NMLS

Updated on May 12, 2023

At a Glance: To get started with NMLS, follow these steps: 1) Create an NMLS account on the NMLS Resource Center website. 2) Complete required pre-licensure education, covering mortgage regulations, ethics, and product knowledge. 3) Pass the licensing exam, such as the National SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test. 4) Submit your license application through your NMLS account. 5) Undergo a background check, including a credit report and fingerprint submission. 6) Pay applicable fees. 7) Wait for license approval from your state’s regulatory agency. 8) Maintain your license by completing continuing education and keeping your account updated.

The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) is an essential tool for mortgage and financial services providers in the United States – and it is an essential element of building a credit startup. As such, it’s crucial that fintech founders not only understand what NMLS is and how it operates, but also how to use it. 

In this post, we will explore the various functions of NMLS, how to get started with the system, and how to effectively use your NMLS license once your application has been approved.

NMLS Overview

NMLS stands for Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry. It is a web-based platform developed and maintained by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR).

NMLS is a centralized system used by state regulatory agencies to manage and process license applications and renewals for various non-depository financial services industries, such as mortgage brokers, lenders, and loan originators. The system helps to streamline the licensing process, reduce regulatory burden, and enhance supervision of the non-depository financial services industry.

The NMLS system also provides a comprehensive database of licensed companies and individuals, making it easier for consumers to research and verify the license status of the companies and individuals they are considering doing business with.

To learn more about NMLS, see out comprehensive post Complete Guide to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS)

What is NMLS Used For?

The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) is a platform used in the United States for the licensing, supervision, and regulation of state-licensed companies and individuals involved in the mortgage, financial services, and money transmission industries. NMLS was established by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR) to improve and streamline the licensing process.

NMLS has several primary functions:

  • License management: It helps mortgage loan originators (MLOs), mortgage companies, and other financial services providers to apply for, renew, or update their licenses electronically.
  • Regulatory oversight: It provides state regulators with tools for monitoring and supervising licensed entities and individuals, thus promoting better supervision and consumer protection.
  • Public access: NMLS Consumer Access is a public-facing website that allows consumers to verify the licensing status of mortgage companies, MLOs, and other financial services providers, as well as access information about their regulatory actions and enforcement history.
  • Background checks: NMLS facilitates comprehensive background checks for license applicants, including credit reports and criminal history checks, ensuring that only qualified and trustworthy individuals and companies are granted licenses.
  • Information sharing: The system enables the sharing of licensing and enforcement information among state regulators, helping them coordinate their efforts and address potential risks more effectively.

How to Get Started With NMLS

To get started with NMLS, you’ll need to complete a number of steps, including: 

  1. Create an NMLS Account
  2. Complete Pre-licensure Education (PE)
  3. Pass the Licensing Exam
  4. Submit Your License Application
  5. Complete a Background Check
  6. Pay Applicable Fees
  7. Wait for License Approval
  8. Maintain Your License

Below, you’ll find in-depth explanations for each of these steps.

1. Create an NMLS Account

Visit the NMLS Resource Center and click on “Log in to NMLS” in the upper right corner. Then click on “Request an Account” and follow the instructions to create an individual account. Make sure to keep your NMLS ID number handy, as you will need it throughout the licensing process.

2. Complete Pre-licensure Education (PE)

Depending on the type of license you’re applying for, you may be required to complete a certain number of hours of pre-licensure education. This education typically covers federal and state-specific mortgage regulations, ethics, and mortgage product knowledge. You can find approved course providers through the NMLS website.

3. Pass the Licensing Exam

After completing your pre-licensure education, you’ll need to pass the National SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) Test or another relevant test, depending on your desired license type. The test consists of a national component and may include a state-specific component, depending on the state in which you’re seeking licensure. You can schedule your test through the NMLS website.

4. Submit Your License Application

Once you’ve passed the necessary exams, log in to your NMLS account and navigate to the “Filing” tab to submit your license application. You’ll need to provide personal and employment information, as well as any required documentation, such as proof of pre-licensure education completion and test scores.

5. Complete a Background Check

As part of the licensing process, you’ll need to undergo a criminal background check and authorize NMLS to access your credit report. This process typically involves submitting fingerprints, either electronically or via a fingerprint card, depending on your state’s requirements.

6. Pay Applicable Fees

You’ll need to pay any applicable fees, such as application fees, credit report fees, and background check fees, as required by your state. These fees can typically be paid through your NMLS account.

7. Wait for License Approval

Once you’ve submitted your application and all required documentation, your state’s regulatory agency will review your application. The review process can take several weeks or longer, depending on the state and the volume of applications they’re processing.

8. Maintain Your License

After receiving your license, you’ll need to complete continuing education (CE) requirements and renew your license annually or as required by your state. You’ll also need to keep your NMLS account up-to-date with any changes to your personal or employment information.

Remember that licensing requirements may vary from state to state, so it’s essential to research the specific requirements for the state(s) in which you plan to operate.

How to Log In to NMLS

Once your lending startup’s application has been approved and you have received your NMLS login credentials, you can log in to the NMLS system to manage your company’s license, compliance, and reporting requirements. Here are the steps to log in to NMLS:

  1. Visit the NMLS Resource Center: Navigate to the NMLS Resource Center website. This website serves as the main hub for accessing the NMLS system and provides various resources and support materials.
  2. Access the login page: On the top-right corner of the NMLS Resource Center homepage, click on the “Log in to NMLS” button. This will take you to the NMLS login page.
  3. Enter your credentials: On the login page, enter your NMLS User ID and Password in the appropriate fields. These credentials are typically provided to you when your company’s application is approved, or you may have created them when you set up your account initially.
  4. Click “Log In”: After entering your User ID and Password, click the “Log In” button to access your NMLS account.
  5. Explore the NMLS Dashboard: Once logged in, you will be taken to the NMLS Dashboard, where you can access various features and functions related to your company’s license management, compliance, and reporting requirements. Familiarize yourself with the dashboard, tabs, and tools available to manage your company’s NMLS-related tasks effectively.

If you ever have trouble logging in or need assistance with your account, you can contact the NMLS Call Center at 1-855-NMLS-123 (1-855-665-7123) for support. Additionally, the NMLS Resource Center offers user guides, training materials, and other resources to help you navigate the system effectively.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the NMLS can seem daunting at first, but with a clear understanding of its functions and processes, it is an invaluable resource for your lending startup. By following the outlined steps for getting started, maintaining compliance, and utilizing your NMLS license, you can ensure that your business stays in good standing and provides consumers with the confidence they need when working with a licensed professional. Remember to stay up-to-date with licensing requirements, renewals, and regulatory changes, as these are crucial for maintaining your license and the success of your business in the ever-evolving financial services landscape.

Read Next: What is an NMLS License? >>

How to Use NMLS FAQ

Here are five common FAQs about using NMLS and their respective answers:

How do I reset my NMLS password if I’ve forgotten it or need to create a new one?

To reset your NMLS password, visit the NMLS login page and click on the “Forgot Password” link. You’ll be prompted to enter your User ID and the email address associated with your NMLS account. After submitting the required information, you’ll receive an email with a link to reset your password. Follow the instructions provided in the email to create a new password.

Can I apply for licenses in multiple states through NMLS?

Yes, you can apply for licenses in multiple states using the NMLS platform. To do this, log in to your NMLS account and navigate to the “Filing” tab. From there, you can create a new filing and select the additional state(s) for which you wish to apply for a license. Keep in mind that each state has its own specific licensing requirements and fees, so you will need to ensure you meet those requirements for each state.

What is the process for renewing my license(s) through NMLS?

License renewal typically takes place during the annual renewal period, which generally runs from November 1st to December 31st. To renew your license, log in to your NMLS account, navigate to the “Filing” tab, and select “Renewals” from the dropdown menu. Follow the prompts to complete the renewal process, making sure to pay any applicable fees and ensure your continuing education (CE) requirements are up to date.

How do I update my company or personal information in NMLS?

To update your company or personal information, log in to your NMLS account and navigate to the “Filing” tab. Depending on the information you need to update, you can select either “Company (MU1)” or “Individual (MU2)” filing. Open the relevant sections within the filing, make the necessary changes, and submit the filing for review. Be sure to check for any state-specific requirements or fees associated with updating information.

How can I find the status of my license application or check if my license has been approved?

To check the status of your license application or verify if your license has been approved, log in to your NMLS account and navigate to the “Composite View” tab. From there, select “View License/Registration List” to see a list of your current licenses, registrations, and application statuses. You can also visit the NMLS Consumer Access website to verify your licensing status publicly.

Frank Gogol

A seasoned SEO expert, Frank has a long history of working with and for startups. Starting in mid-2018, Frank served as the SEO Strategist for Stilt, a fintech startup that provided fair loans for immigrants in the US and other underserved markets. While with the company, he scaled site traffic from zero to more than 1.5 million unique visits per month, driving the bulk of the company’s lead generation until it was acquired by J.G. Wentworth in December 2022. As employee #5 at Stilt, Frank was witness to, and part of, the successful building and sale of a fintech company, uniquely positioning him to create content for founders about all things startups.