How to Transfer Your RN License State-to-State

Finally, you have taken and passed the NCLEX-RN Exam…way to go! The next step now involves becoming licensed as a RN and it will probably seem like it takes forever. Licensure is the process that each state board of nursing goes through in order to grant each individual who has been determined to exhibit competency to perform care within the RN scope of practice. Each state has their own board of nursing and criteria that will determine whether or not each applicant has the necessary skills to practice safe and effective care to become licensed as a RN.

Transferring your RN license from state to state may not be as complicated as you may think, thanks to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC allows nurses to have one license that is valid in multiple states…up to 25 states and counting. Through the NLC, nurses have the ability to practice across participating state lines both physically and electronically through a simple process without any additional fees or applications. Nurses will have the ability to practice in both their home state and other states that participate in the NLC. You are eligible to obtain a multistate license if you:

  • Are a legal resident of a state included in the NLC.
  • Hold an active RN license that is in good standing.
  • Meet licensure requirements in your home state, in addition to licensure standards, and exhibit competency to practice within the RN scope if you reside in a remote state that does not participate in the NLC.
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Keep in mind the different characteristics of the states in which you practice. There is a party state (any state that participates in the NLC), a home state (the nurse's primary state of residence), and a remote state (any party state other than the home state). Following are examples if you were to decide to reside in another state and practice as a RN.


Transfer Your RN License from Non-Compact to Compact State

  • You must apply for licensure by endorsement in the new state of residency.
  • Your individual state license issued by the non-compact state will not be affected and remain active if you continue to maintain it, meaning you will have to resume your continuing education hours, practice within the laws of that state, and renew it by the deadline.

Transfer Your RN License from Compact to Non-Compact State

  • You must apply for licensure by endorsement in the new state of residency.
  • Your compact license will be changed to a single-state license valid only in the state you have chosen.
  • You must notify the board of nursing in the state you moved out of so they can take actions to inactivate your license from their board.

Transfer from Compact to Compact

  • You can practice on the former residency license for up to 30 or 90 days depending upon the new state to which you have moved.
  • You will be required to apply for licensure endorsement at least 1 to 2 months in advance of a move, pay any applicable fees, and complete a declaration of primary state of residency in the new home state.
  • You will be issued a new multistate license and your former license will be inactivated.
  • You must notify the board of nursing in the former residency state that you have moved.
  • Proof of residency may be required.

Here is a scenario to kind of put it all together for you:

Nicole holds an active RN license in her primary state of Colorado. However, she lives near the four corners, (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado), and all those states participate in the NLC. Therefore, Nicole can drive across the borders to practice or practice electronically without any additional fees or applications. Later though, Nicole decides to move and change her primary residence to New Mexico. She will now have a 30-day grace period to practice on her current license, but by the end of those 30 days, Nicole will need to have obtained her new multi-state license. Ultimately, this is why it is a good idea to apply for new licenses in advance of any move so there is not a lapse in your ability to practice.

If you have to transfer your RN license it will occur via a process referred to as endorsement. Of course, the endorsement process is only able to be carried out once you have passed the NCLEX-RN and hold an active license in good standing with your particular state board of nursing. The process includes:

  • Choosing the state in which you would like to endorse your license with to access their board of nursing and rules to fill out an application for endorsement.
  • Visiting the “Nursys” licensure verification site to obtain online verification for endorsement to practice in another state.
  • The board of nursing in the state to which you are applying for endorsement will then have to accept your application, perform new background checks and ensure all your information is correct.
  • Payment of predetermined fees for your RN endorsement in the state you have chosen.
  • Within 1 or 2 months you will be notified whether or not your information has been approved to hold a license in your chosen state.

The whole process to transfer your RN license may seem complicated, however with the technology we have today and since we are able to do much of the process electronically…it's not as complicated as it could be. Ultimately, obtaining a nursing license is a strict process, because let's face it…we don't want just anyone to be able to take the lives of others into their hands unless they are highly qualified to provide safe and effective care. Find all the information you need to make your process simple at

P. Shreffler

About P. Shreffler

P. Shreffler started her nursing career in 2010 as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). After working for almost five years she decided it was time to go back to college and further her education. In June of 2015 she passed her NCLEX on the first attempt and can finally put that RN behind her name! Her background has been in the long-term care setting for these past 5 years with a small amount of experience in acute care during RN school. I am excited at where my career may take me and I enjoy knowing that I may make the difference in many, many lives down the road!
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