How to Transfer Your Nursing License to Another State

Last Updated on January 9, 2024

blue nurse stethoscope over map of United States

It’s a good time to be a nurse! There are more nursing and travel nursing jobs available today than ever before, all across the country. But taking advantage of these opportunities might mean taking a job in another state. For RNs, LPNs and LVNs looking to work an assignment in another part of the country, here’s a quick guide on how to transfer your nursing license to another state.

Why Do You Need to Transfer Your Nursing License to Another State?

Why do you need a new nursing license when you work in a different state? Getting licensed is a key part of becoming an RN, LPN or LVN. (Licensed vocational nurses, or LVNs, are Texas and California’s version of LPNs.) Each state has its own specific licensing rules and standards, as set by its board of nursing (BOD).

The first nursing license you get is specific to the state or territory where you passed your exam. After you get your degree and pass the NCLEX exam, you’ll be licensed in the state where you currently live. This is known as your primary state of residence, or PSOR. Your license is usually only valid in your PSOR. So, if you want to work in another state, you’ll have to get licensed in that state.

This can all make the question of how to transfer your nursing license to another state seem a little complicated. But the good news is that it’s really pretty simple. Additionally, if you’re looking for a great new job opportunity, it’s certainly worth taking the time to do.

>CNAs: Interested in traveling or moving states? Discover How to Transfer Your CNA License to Another State

The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC)

Before we continue, you should know that there are some exceptions to this rule! The most important one is the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), an agreement among dozens of states that lets nurses work with just one license.

Also called the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), this agreement means you don’t have to get another license when you work a job in another state. This as long as both states are in the compact. States that are in the eNLC are called “compact states,” and those that aren’t are called “non-compact states.”

Another exception is the military spouse interstate license recognition program, which makes it easier for nurses who are married to members of the military to transfer their license.

Which States Are in the eNLC?

Most states and territories are in the eNLC — more than 40 of them, in fact! If you get a license in a compact state, you don’t have to worry about how to transfer your nursing license to another state. You can read more about the eNLC here, or see a list of current member states here.

The eNLC is especially useful for travel nurses who frequently move from state to state. Unfortunately, though, not every state has joined the compact. In fact, some of the biggest states aren’t members. This includes popular travel locations like California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Hawaii.

These non-compact states are home to some of the biggest cities in the country, like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas. As such, they usually have lots of jobs on offer. But the good news is that the list of compact states is getting bigger every year. Additionally, a few of them are currently in the process of joining (such as New York, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota).

How to Apply for a Multi-State License

If you passed your NCLEX in a compact state, then you may already have a compact license (or “multi-state license”). That means you can already work in another compact state without getting another license. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. You can find out whether your license is a multi-state license at nursys.com.

Remember, even if you switch from one eNLC state to another, you still need to contact the board of nursing in your new state and let them know that you’re updating you’ve changed your PSOR.

Transferring Your LPN/LVN or RN Nursing License to Another State

If you’re planning on taking a job in a state that isn’t part of the eNLC, the process is still pretty simple. Usually, you won’t have to take the NCLEX again. You’ll just need to follow a pretty basic procedure to let your new state know that you’re a licensed nurse in good standing. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow.

Step 1: Confirm Your Current License Is Valid

Go to nursys.com to verify your current license. Then contact your state board to request validation, which you’ll need to present to the board of nursing in your new state.  

Step 2: Apply for Licensure by Endorsement

Before you begin working in your new state, you’ll need to apply for “licensure by endorsement.” This is a streamlined way to get a new license that doesn’t require taking another exam. The process is to:

  • Provide verification of your current nursing license
  • Complete an application for the new state
  • Pass a background check
  • Pay the fee

The specifics for each of these steps, like the amount of the fee, depends on the state. Each one has different standards. To get the details for the place you want to move to, check out the nursing board’s web site. You can find links to all of them at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you do all this this before you move to a new state. If you do it too late, you may not get your new license in time. Usually, you can practice with your old license for a month or two after moving. But that isn’t always the case! So, it’s best not to leave it to chance, but to begin the process as soon as you can.

Transferring Your Nursing License Is Easier with CareerStaff

The short version? The question of how to transfer your nursing license to another state is much easier than it used to be. This is especially true if you live in a Nurse Licensure Compact state!

But there’s a way to make it even easier. When you find your next nursing job with CareerStaff, our team of amazing recruiters will help take care of everything. There are many other advantages of working with us, too. Besides job opportunities across the United States, we also offer great pay and benefits (including health, dental, vision and life insurance) and flexible scheduling.

See for yourself: From local contracts to travel nursing, check out our list of hundreds of available nursing jobs here. And if you’re ready to get started today, just fill out our quick online application. It’ll just take a few minutes, and it’s the fastest way to connect with a CareerStaff recruiter.

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