Understanding the Nurse Licensure Compact


Multi state nurse licensure compact

Increasing access and raising the bar in nursing practice

What if your nursing license would allow you to relocate or work travel nursing jobs in another state nearly as easily as your driver’s license allows you to drive across the state line? This scenario already exists for nurses who have their permanent residency and hold their nursing license in one of the states that are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact.

As of August 1, 2021, the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) has been enacted by 38 states and territories, with four states and Guam pending full implementation. The compact provides a multistate license for eligible registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs), allowing them to practice in both their home state and other compact states.

Under the NLC agreement, nurses must follow the practice laws and regulations of the state where they are practicing. The compact has been a boon for those seeking travel nursing jobs.

A short history of the NLC

America’s boards of nursing were the first health care provider regulatory bodies to develop a model for practicing across state lines. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) adopted the NLC in 1997, and launched the initiative in 2000.

In 2015, the NLC underwent several revisions to ensure that it reflected best practices and provided for continued high standards of public protection. The changes helped address the growing need for nurse mobility and clarification of the authority to practice for nurses engaged in telenursing or interstate practice, including travel nurses who work temporary jobs in other states.

The enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, which was known for a period as the eNLC, was officially enacted on July 20, 2017, and implemented on January 9, 2018. 

The current list of NLC compact states

The following 37 states and one territory have enacted the Nurse Licensure Compact, as of August 1, 2021:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam (partial implementation)
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey (partial implementation)
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio (awaiting implementation)
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania (awaiting implantation)
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont (awaiting implementation)
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Who is eligible for a compact nursing license?

According to the NCSBN, you can obtain a compact (multistate) nursing license if you:

1. Legally reside in one of the NLC states; see above.

2. Hold an active RN or LPN/LVN nursing license in good standing. (Note: Advance practice nurses have a separate APRN compact.)

3. Declare an NLC state as your primary state of residency.

4. Meet the licensure requirements in your home state. When working in a remote state (a compact state other than your home state), you will also be held accountable to the nurse practice act of the state where the patient is located or where practice occurs.

Nursing license verification

The NLC ensures that all pertinent information about a nurse's licensure is readily accessible in one location: the Nursys database. Nursys allows people to verify nurse licensure, discipline and practice privileges for RNs and LPNs/LVNs licensed in participating jurisdictions, including all states in the compact.

Learn more about the NLC

To learn more about the interstate compact and how it affects you, visit the NCSBN's Nurse Licensure Compact page.

Questions about nurse licensing in compact and non-compact states? Contact one of our partner travel nursing companies and a recruiter will gladly answer your questions and offer advice. 

FIND YOUR NEXT NURSING JOB, in your state of choice, with NursingJobs.com.

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