RN Licensure

What You Need to Know About RN Licensure

RN Licensure

Are you a Registered Nurse (RN) student who is getting close to graduating or maybe a prospective RN student or an aspiring RN who wants some information about RN licensure? In either case, this article will be of help. From how to obtain your initial RN license to how to renew and verify it, your questions will be answered below.

Applying for an RN License by Examination

If you are a recent nursing graduate, you will need to apply for your initial license through a process known as licensure by examination. What this means is that after you complete your RN training and earn your degree, you must sit for and pass the national RN licensing exam before you can obtain a license in the state where you wish to work.

The RN licensing exam is regulated by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and is more commonly known as the NCLEX-RN. Since testing administrators vary from one state to another, it is best to contact the NCSBN to locate a testing site near you. During your exam, you will be required to complete a computerized multiple-choice test as well as a clinical evaluation of your nursing skills.

Fulfilling Other RN Licensure Requirements

In addition to completing the NCLEX-RN, there are various other requirements you will need to fulfill before you will be granted an initial RN license in your state. Although these requirements vary depending on the state issuing your license, typical requirements include:

  • Proof of RN Diploma or Degree
  • College or University Transcripts
  • Current CPR Certification
  • Criminal Background Check or Fingerprint Card
  • Current Passport-Sized Photo
  • Payment of Current Examination Fee

Applying for an RN License Through Endorsement

Are you currently a licensed RN who wants to transfer your license to a different state? If you are, many states will allow you to do so through processes known as endorsement or reciprocity. The requirements for these programs vary depending on the state where you wish to obtain a new license. However, some of the most common requirements include:

  • Proof of Current RN License
  • Current CPR Certification
  • Completion of Various Continuing Education Courses
  • Payment of the Current License Transfer Fee

Understanding the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC)

Many states in the U.S. today work together providing what is known as the Nursing Licensure Compact Agreement to Registered Nurses who wish to work in states other than where they are licensed. As of the beginning of 2015, there are 25 states that offer this unique program.

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. Delaware
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Idaho
  7. Iowa
  8. Kentucky
  9. Maine
  10. Maryland
  11. Mississippi
  12. Missouri
  13. Montana
  14. Nebraska
  15. New Hampshire
  16. North Dakota
  17. Oklahoma
  18. South Carolina
  19. South Dakota
  20. Tennessee
  21. Texas
  22. Utah
  23. Virginia
  24. West Virginia
  25. Wyoming

With the NLC agreement, you only need one license to practice as an RN in participating compact states. To learn which states are part of the Nursing Licensure Compact Agreement, you simply need to visit the website of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to find the current listing of compact states.

Renewing Your RN License

RN license renewal requirements vary significantly among the various states. This is because each state's Board of Nursing sets the rules regarding RN renewals. As such, the best way to learn about your state's requirements is to visit your state's Board of Nursing website. Nevertheless, RN renewals are typically required annually or biennially, and some common requirements are:

  • Proof of Current Employment
  • Proof of Current CPR Certification
  • Payment of the Appropriate Renewal Fee
  • Completion of Various Continuing Education Courses

Reinstating an Expired RN License

If you miss your license renewal date, your RN license will expire, and your status will be noted as inactive. In this case, you will need to reinstate your license. You can do this by contacting your state's Board of Nursing and requesting a reinstatement application. The requirements necessary for reinstating an expired RN license vary as well; however, you will likely need to fulfill some or all of the following:

  • Proof of Your Most Current RN License
  • Criminal Background Check or Fingerprint Card
  • Completion of the NCLEX-RN
  • Completion of Various Continuing Education Classes
  • Proof of CPR Certification
  • Completion of Nursing Refresher Courses
  • Payment of the Current Reinstatement Fee

Verifying an RN License

Verifying your RN license is a simple process and can be done online either through your state's Board of Nursing website or the Nursys website. If your state allows online verifications, visit its website and search for a link labeled verifications. If you cannot find such a link, you will need to visit the Nursys's website. When verifying your license, be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your Full Name as it Appears on Your License
  • The State Where You Are Licensed
  • Your RN License Number
  • Your Social Security Number
  • The Address You Provided for Your Initial License
  • Your Birthdate

Knowing all about the requirements for obtaining, renewing, reinstating, or verifying your RN license can help you get licensed and keep your license in active standing.