Transferring your nursing license to another state doesn’t need to be a huge hassle. While the methods and requirements vary from one state to another, the process is straightforward. Most states require nurses to hold a valid and active license and to have passed the NCLEX-RN exam.
Some states have what’s known as a “walk-through” provision (grants a temporary license), while others are part of a multi-state compact that honors a valid nursing license from member states. If you’re not sure about the status of your nursing license, you can visit the Nursys licensure database.
In case you ever need to transfer your nursing license, here is the low-down on what steps to take to make it easy-peasy. Read on to learn:
- Why would you transfer your nursing license?
- What is a compact state?
- What do you need to know when moving to another state?
- What do you need to know when moving for military reasons?
- What do you need to know if you’re licensed from another country?
Why would you transfer your nursing license?
There are many reasons why you might want to transfer your nursing license. Moving to another state (or country) for personal or professional reasons tops the list. Some nurses, including travel nurses, may work in multiple states.
Some members of the military relocate frequently, as do their spouses who may work in the nursing field. Military nurses can receive special allowances when moving between states.
Transferring your nursing license internationally can be a bit more complex but not undoable. Most countries require nurses to complete an evaluation of their educational qualifications and eligibility for licensure before they can move their credentials.
What is a compact state?
Compact nursing states have agreed to one nursing license for Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). RNs and LPNs can get a license that allows them to practice in any of the compact nursing states. They can freely move between compact states without the hassle of transferring their nursing license. Travel nurses find compact nurse licensure particularly beneficial. It saves them time and money when switching between short-term assignments.
What do you need to know when moving to another state?
There are several scenarios you might encounter when transferring your nursing license to another state. Here’s a quick guide on what you can expect with four of the most common relocation situations.
Non-compact to non-compact state
- Apply for licensure by endorsement
- Must have active license from another state
- Contact state board of nursing where you’re relocating to make arrangements
Non-compact to compact state
- Apply for licensure by endorsement (before or after move)
- Must apply for licensure before working at new job
- If requirements are met, can apply for multi-state license
- Current license remains active until it expires
Compact to non-compact state
- Apply for licensure by endorsement (can apply after move)
- Once licensure approved, license becomes a single-state
- Notify board of nursing from former state about change in licensure
Compact to compact state
- Apply for licensure by endorsement
- Can continue to work on license from old state until new multi-state license is approved
- Previous license is deactivated once new multi-state license issued
Expert advice from nurses like you
What do you need to know when moving for military reasons?
If you’re an RN or LPN enlisted in the miliary, or you have a military spouse, you may find yourself moving quite frequently. You might need to transfer your license between states or even countries. Special allowances are in place to help nurses in this unique situation.
Some states participate in a military spouse interstate license recognition program. If you’re moving to one of these states, it makes it much easier to transfer your nursing license. You can check with your military branch or the state board of nursing where you plan to move to verify if this program is observed and to what degree.
Military nurses and their spouses can receive reimbursement for licensure costs that occur when they transfer between states and countries. Each branch of the military has its own policies, so you’ll want to check with yours to get the most accurate information.
What do you need to know if you’re licensed from another country?
Moving your nursing license between countries can be a bit trickier. Since you’re educated and licensed in the U.S., most countries require an assessment to determine if your qualifications are equal to theirs. Others, like Australia, Denmark, and New Zealand, welcome U.S.-licensed nurses with open arms and actively recruit U.S. nurses.
If you’re moving to the U.S. from another country, you’ll be required to declare either your country of origin or the state you’re moving to as your permanent residence.
What are your next steps?
Before you do anything, you should verify your license in your current state of practice. You can request a verification or certification of your license from your state’s licensing board. Once you have validation of your nursing license, you can use it to apply for a licensure by endorsement.
If you know you want to relocate but aren’t sure where to go, Incredible Health is here to help! You can check out the highest-paying states for RNs to get some ideas. You also can get some awesome advice from other nursing professionals on our Q&A forum for nursing professionals.
Questions from the Incredible Health Nurse Community
- How do you renew your RN license for the first time? Is there any reminder via email or postal mail beforehand? Can you renew earlier ?
- Hi How can I start working as a nurse if I have license from another state in PA? No experience related.
- About The NCLEX: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Exam. nclex.com. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- Moving to Another State. ncsbn.org. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- Nursys Nurse License Verification. nursys.com. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- Transferring Your Professional License: What’s Involved? militaryonesource.mil. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- Military Spouse Interstate License Recognition Options. dol.gov. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- The best countries for a career in Nursing. santaferelo.com. Accessed April 8, 2022.