Oct 10, 2022

RN Licensing Tools

Nursing License: Time Frames & Compact States

Got your heart set on a travel nursing job in California or Florida? You’ll facilitate a smooth assignment if you obtain your nursing license in advance. Some states take longer than others, but with planning and the support of your recruiter, you’ll make it to your dream destinations.

How can I expedite my nursing license in all states?

You can apply for a “compact license” that is honored in 37 states under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Your permanent residence must be in a compact state, otherwise you’ll need to apply for a license in the state where you wish to work.

What are “compact” states?

Several states participate in what is called the extended Nurse Licensure Compact. Getting a license in a compact state means that you can work in other compact states without needing an additional license. This may affect your decision on where you take assignments, especially if you are working with tight time frames.

Non-NLC-Member States:
  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. DC
  4. Hawaii
  5. Nevada
  6. Oregon
Pending NLC Legislation:
  1. Alaska
  2. Illinois
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Michigan
  5. Minnesota
  6. New York
  7. Ohio
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Washington
What are “walk-through” states?

Walk-through states may issue a temporary nursing license in as quickly as one hour to one day that will enable an RN to practice while awaiting a permanent license. These temporary licenses are typically valid for 30 days to six months, depending upon the issuing state. Many non-walk-through states also offer temporary licenses, subject to varying qualifications. Temporary licenses are usually issued in a reduced time frame and are valid for less than a year.

Resources:

Nurse Licensure Guidance – Tool for state-specific nurse licensure guidance

Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) – NLC member states and links to states’ nursing regulatory boards

Nursys® – Look up and verify your RN license status

Contact Info for State Boards of Nursing – NCSBN: National Council of State Boards of Nursing

State Nursing License – Turnaround Times

The following chart provides information on the expected time frames for licensing in each state. Note that licensing times are changing by the day during the Coronavirus pandemic. Rules may vary by facility and by state. Your recruiter can give you the up-to-the-minute details on licensure at the facilities that you are considering.

State
Compact?
Walk-through?
Time for Permanent Licensure
Alabama 2-4 weeks
Alaska PENDING 8 weeks
Arizona YES * 2-4 weeks
Arkansas 4 weeks
California NO 3-6 months
Colorado 4-6 weeks
Connecticut NO 1-4 weeks
Delaware 4-6 weeks
DC NO 4-5 weeks
Florida 2-4 weeks
Georgia 10-15 days
Hawaii NO 2-15 days
Idaho YES * 6 weeks
Illinois PENDING 6-8 weeks
Indiana 3-8 weeks
Iowa 2-8 weeks
Kansas 2-4 weeks
Kentucky 2 weeks
Louisiana YES * 4-6 weeks
Maine 8-10 weeks
Maryland 10 weeks
Massachusetts PENDING 4-5 weeks
Michigan PENDING 6-8 weeks
Minnesota PENDING 2 weeks
Mississippi 3-4 weeks
Missouri YES * 2 weeks
Montana 2 weeks
Nebraska 2-10 weeks
Nevada NO 2-4 weeks
New Hampshire 2 weeks
New Jersey 6-8 weeks
New Mexico 3-4 weeks
New York PENDING YES * 6-8 weeks
North Carolina 6-8 weeks
North Dakota 2-4 weeks
Ohio PENDING 4-6 months
Oklahoma 2-3 weeks
Oregon NO 3-6 weeks
Pennsylvania PENDING 2-3 weeks
Rhode Island 4+ weeks
South Carolina YES * 2 weeks
South Dakota 3-5 weeks
Tennessee 4-6 weeks
Texas 4-6 weeks
Utah 2-3 weeks
Vermont 4-6 weeks
Virginia 4-6 weeks
Washington PENDING 3-4 weeks
West Virginia 2 weeks
Wisconsin 2 weeks
Wyoming 2-3 weeks

* Special conditions may apply. Ask your recruiter for details.

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