Multi-State Licenses for Nurses and CNAs 

Nurse preparing to drive car, opening trunk

Are you one of the 2 million+ nurses who live in a state where the law allows you to practice in multiple states? Are you a short drive to a neighboring state border?

If you fit into one of these categories, there are opportunities you can explore to get set up with additional nursing licenses in other states. As long as you meet minimum requirements and have an active and unencumbered license, any RN, LPN/LVN, or CNA living in a state that allows multi-state licenses can pursue one. Multi-state licenses are a great way for nurses and aides to expand their job opportunities and build upon their work experience. 

There are a few ways that nursing professionals can become licensed to work in multiple states. For RNs and LPN/LVNs, the Nurse License Compact was developed to help facilitate easier cross-state practicing. For CNAs, there are options of Licensure by Endorsement, given you have an active license in your home state.  

This article will give you the information you need to reach out to your current and prospective Licensing Boards for more detail on how you can obtain additional licensure, depending upon your current nursing license and primary state of residence. 

Additional note: The Public Health Emergency (PHE) is officially ending on May 11, 2023. Many Licensing Boards and Departments of Health have already lifted their pandemic waivers, but some may still be in effect. If, under this Public Health Emergency, you have been working in a state other than that in which you are licensed, be advised that you will soon need to follow one of the paths below in order to maintain your ability to work in a different state. 

Licensure by Endorsement 

You are eligible for licensure by endorsement if you are actively licensed in another state, jurisdiction, or territory of the United States. You are eligible to apply with the Board of Nursing and/or Department of Health to get endorsed in that state as meeting minimum requirements. This is a great opportunity if you, as an RN, have passed your NCLEX. Your NCLEX is reciprocal and recognized in all states. You will be issued a new license for the additional state in which you are seeking licensure and will be able to actively work in both states.   

Please note, this is a formal application process which is reviewed by the specific license issuing body. In most, if not all states, you are still required to complete any necessary criminal background check processes, which may include FBI or state background checks and fingerprinting. You may also have to pay any fees associated with the application process. 

Nurse License Compact Arrangement 

The Nurse License Compact allows for RNs and LPN/LVNs to have a multi-state license and gives them the legal ability to practice in their primary residence state and any other state within the Nurse Licensure Compact. In other words, you have one license, but the ability to practice in many states.  

There are two types of licenses you can apply for through your State Board of Nursing – the “Single State License,” and the “Multi-State License.” The difference between the two types is where you can practice. To take advantage of working in other states, you will want to request a “Multi-State License” from the State Board of Nursing associated with your primary residence.  As of March 2023, there are 39 jurisdictions who are currently participating in the Nurse License Compact. Check out the full list of participating states.

In order to qualify for a Multi-State License, your home state/primary license state must be part of the Nurse License Compact group. In order to work in multiple states, you must have a Multi-State License issued by your home state.  

If you are interested in working in a state that is NOT a part of the License Compact, you must apply for a single-state license with the Board of Nursing of that state. 

State-by-State Requirements for Obtaining a Multi-State License* 

*Note: The links here are for convenience, however for the most accurate and current information, please contact your State Board of Nursing.  


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