Nurse Compact States 2021
By Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
What is the Nurse Licensure Compact?
A nurse compact state is one that allows nurses who hold a nurse compact license to work in multiple states without getting additional state licenses. This allows a nurse flexibility in their career. A multistate license is also synonymous with a compact license.
In 2018, legislation was passed and the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) was replaced by the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), which simplified the process across the states. The nurse may hold a multi-state license in their primary place of residence (also known as home residence) and practice in multiple other compact states.
As of June 2021, the eNLC is only for Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practice Nurses (LPNs/LVNs). Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), must hold an individual state license in each state of APRN practice. There is currently an effort to move forward with an APRN Compact and will go into effect once 7 states have enacted the legislation (currently North Dakota has enacted the legislature and Delaware is pending).
States in the Nurse Licensure Compact
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
New Jersey and Guam are in the partial implementation stage. This means a nurse who holds a multistate license in their home state, may now utilize that license to practice in New Jersey or Guam. However, a nurse who resides in New Jersey will not be able to apply for a multi-state license until the 2nd half of 2021 (the date is TBD). Nurses residing in Guam will not be able to apply for a multistate license until 2022. Vermont has been accepted into the NLC and is currently awaiting implementation
- Rhode Island
- Virgin Islands
Current States Not in the Nurse Licensure Compact
- American Samoa
- District of Columbia
- Mariana Islands
- New York
Nurse Licensure Compact Advantages
The greatest benefit of the eNLC is a nurse who carries a compact state license, can work in any of the other 33 eNLC states, removing multiple barriers a nurse may encounter when attempting to gain employment in a state not considered their primary place of residence (ie. money, and time). This allows flexibility to the nurse and may provide new career options including travel nursing.
Compact vs. Non Compact Nursing License
There are a few points to consider when comparing a compact nursing license vs. a non-compact nursing license.
- Compact Nursing License:
- A nurse who carries a compact nursing license can practice in other compact states without applying/obtaining a new nursing license for that state. There is no time limit that the nurse can practice in the other state, as long as the nurse maintains legal residency in the state that issued the compact nurse license and the nurse remains in good standing with that state’s board of nursing. Proof of legal residence includes a driver’s license, voter’s card, federal income tax return or W2 form. These legal documents should be issued by the same state (PSOR).
- If the nurse chooses to keep their compact state license, in addition to obtaining a license in a non-compact state, the nurse will have to keep their PSOR in the compact state. The nurse will then carry 2 nursing licenses and will have to stay up to date with both as directed by the state board of nursing. For more information if you move your PSOR, please visit the NCSBN website or the state board of nursing.
- Non-Compact Nursing License: Only a nurse who declares a compact state as their PSOR may be eligible for multistate license. Therefore, a nurse who resides in one of the 11 states/territories not part of the nursing compact, must carry an individual nursing license for each state employed. There is no limit on the number of nursing licenses that can be carried by an individual nurse, but the nurse is responsible for maintaining good standing with each of those licensing boards.
How to Know if Your Nursing License is a Compact License
It is easy to find out if your current nursing license is a compact nursing license by signing up for Nursys. Nursys is a national database used for verification of nurse licensure, discipline and practice privileges for RNs and LPNs/LVNs . By creating an account on Nursys, the database will allow a nurse to view all of their licenses, both active and inactive, and the compact status of each of those licenses.
How to Apply for a Compact State Nursing License
To apply for a compact state nursing license, the first step is to have graduated from a board of nursing approved program. Next, identify if your primary/legal state of residence (PSOR) is an eNLC state. PSOR is determined by driver’s license, voter registration and/or filing of federal income tax. If it is not, you are not eligible for a compact state nursing license.
Once a nurse determines they are eligible to apply for a compact state nursing license, there are 2 ways to apply:
- License by Exam – License by exam involves applying for licensure with the state board of nursing in your PSOR. Next, register to take the NCLEX, receive authorization to test, take NCLEX and wait to receive the results. Once the NCLEX is passed, a multi-state license is granted.
- License by Endorsement – License by Endorsement involves identifying first, if the new PSOR is a member of the eNLC.
- If it is, the nurse must then identify if their previous license was a compact nurse license. If it was, the nurse then applies for a RN/LPN license in their new PSOR. The nurse may use their previous license to practice until their new license is granted. Once the nurse receives their new license, the former license will be inactivated.
- If the nurse’s previous PSOR was not a member of the eNLC, the nurse must apply for a RN/LPN license in their new PSOR and wait to practice until the license is issued.
Two key points to remember. If your PSOR is not an eNLC state, you may not apply for a compact state license. Instead, you must apply for licensure for that specific state and it is only valid to practice in that state. A nurse may hold one compact state license/multistate RN/LPN license but may hold multiple non-compact state licenses.
For specific questions regarding state licensure, please visit your state board of nursing website.
Compact Nurse License Resources
- Nurse Licensure Compact: https://www.ncsbn.org/nurse-licensure-compact.htm
- Nurse Licensure Compact: https://nursecompact.com/index.htm
- Your State Board of Nursing
- APRN Compact: https://aprncompact.com/index.htm
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Sources: 50 State Boards of Nursing, University Websites, U.S. Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ranking Methodology.