Nurse Licensure Compact: Work in 34 states as a travel nurse on one license

Nurse working under the nurse licensure compact

Last updated 4/7/2021

If you’re a travel nurse, or a nurse who is considered traveling, you’ll want to be familiar with the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). This multi-state license allows a nurse to practice in his or her home state, as well as all states and territories that currently participate in the compact. The NLC helps eliminate the need for multiple, single-state licenses and alleviates what can be a burdensome, costly, and time-consuming process.

A multi-state NLC license benefits nurses, patients, and healthcare systems by increasing access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level. The NLC gives nurses the flexibility to practice across state borders, facilitates both in-person and telenursing services, and allows nurses to more quickly and effectively provide vital services in the event of a disaster.

List of NLC Participating States

The following 34 states and one U.S. territory currently belong to the NLC:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. Colorado
  5. Delaware
  6. Florida
  7. Georgia
  8. Idaho
  9. Indiana
  10. Iowa
  11. Kansas
  12. Kentucky
  13. Louisiana
  14. Maine
  15. Maryland
  16. Mississippi
  17. Missouri
  18. Montana
  19. Nebraska
  20. New Hampshire
  21. New Jersey*
  22. New Mexico
  23. North Carolina
  24. North Dakota
  25. Oklahoma
  26. South Carolina
  27. South Dakota
  28. Tennessee
  29. Texas
  30. Utah
  31. Virginia
  32. West Virginia
  33. Wisconsin
  34. Wyoming
  35. Guam*

*Guam and New Jersey have partial implementation, which allows nurses who hold active, unencumbered, multi-state licenses issued by NLC member states to practice in Guam and New Jersey. However, nurses who are New Jersey or Guam residents will not be able to apply for a multi-state license until the NLC is implemented (in late 2021 for New Jersey and 2022 for Guam).

NLC states map

States with pending NLC legislation

The following states have pending NLC legislation, signaling continued momentum toward a more unified, collective approach to licensure:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Do I qualify for a multi-state license?

Nurses who declare a compact state as their primary state of residence (PSOR) are eligible for a multi-state license. For compact purposes, PSOR is not related to property ownership in a given state. Rather, it’s about your legal residency status.

If your PSOR is a compact state and you have a current license from that state, you may already hold a multi-state license. When you applied for your license, if you declared that state as your primary state of residence and met the licensure requirements of that state, the license you were issued should be a multi-state license, assuming you are currently in good standing. You can confirm whether your license is single state or multi-state on the free resource, www.nursys.com. In the event your license is not designated as multi-state, you will need to contact your primary state of residence’s board of nursing.

If you are not able to declare a compact state as your PSOR, you are not eligible for a compact license. You can still apply for a license in a compact state. However, your eligibility will be limited to a single state license that is valid in that state only. You may have as many single state licenses as you wish. If your state does not yet participate in the NLC, you can advocate for change. Learn more about how to drive awareness and encourage your state officials to support the NLC.

For more information on NLC

For additional information and resources, visit the Nurse Licensure Compact page from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The NCSBN offers additional NLC FAQs, stories, videos, a training toolkit, and application information.

Do you have questions about licensing for travel nurses? Give us a call at 800.774.9251.

About the author

Allison Riley

Allison Riley

Allison Riley is a public relations professional with more than 10 years experience in healthcare and corporate communications. She lives in New York City with her better half and two wonderful daughters. She and her girls are currently contending for world's slowest recorded stair climb to a fifth-floor apartment, and she enjoys writing so she can just finish her sentence already.

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