Nursing Compact States | Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC)
Updated September 19, 2022 · 3 Min Read
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Most of the U.S. takes part in the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). Check out this article that explores the benefits of the compact, and the pros of getting a multistate license.
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The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows licensed nurses around the U.S. to work in other states that take part in the compact with just one license, called a multistate license. The compact states include a majority of the states and territories in the United States.
Check out the resources below to learn more about the states that are a part of this compact and how nurses in these states benefit.
What Is the Nurse Licensure Compact?
The NLC is an agreement among states to honor one another's nursing licenses. In other words, if you earn a nursing license in one of the nursing compact states, you can use it in a participating state without having to apply for a license in that state.
However, if you change your primary state of residence, you must apply for a license in your new state. Because each state has its own criteria to maintain licensure, nurses should check for individual requirements from their primary state board of nursing.
This applies to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nurse educators. Because most states require nurse educators to be licensed in the state where their students are located, having a multistate license means that they can teach remote students in NLC states.
The NLC means that nurses have more geographic flexibility. This helps nurses who work in multistate health systems and travel nurses. It also benefits participating states and their employers since they can hire nurses from other Nurse Licensure Compact states. Removing the need to apply for new licenses results in a more streamlined process and less paperwork for state boards of nursing in NLC states.
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Current NLC States and Status
This map shows current nursing compact states, states that have current legislation that is awaiting approval, states with partial implementation, and states that do not participate.
You can hover over each state to see its name and status. This gives you a quick overview of where your multistate license is valid. View the table below to see a list of all participating U.S. territories.
Current NLC States and Status
|District of Columbia||Non-NLC State|
|Guam||Partial NLC Implementation|
|New Mexico||NLC State|
|New Hampshire||NLC State|
|New Jersey||NLC State|
|New York||Pending Legislation|
|North Carolina||NLC State|
|North Dakota||NLC State|
|Ohio||Enacted NLC: Awaiting NLC Implementation|
|Pennsylvania||Enacted NLC: Awaiting NLC Implementation|
|Rhode Island||Pending Legislation|
|South Carolina||NLC State|
|South Dakota||NLC State|
|Virgin Islands||Enacted NLC: Awaiting NLC Implementation|
|West Virginia||NLC State|
Source: NCSBN (August 2022)
Benefits to Being a Nurse in a Compact State
Being a nurse in a compact state allows for a variety of benefits, including job opportunities, financial benefits, and the ability to practice telehealth.
- More Opportunities: Nurses in NLC states can take advantage of finding work in another state in the NLC with very little paperwork.
- Saves Money: A nurse with an NLC license in their home state doesn't have to pay any license renewal fees. If they relocate, they just have to pay for a new license once and don't have to pay more fees unless they move again.
- Telehealth: The boom of remote telehealth is a huge factor in the healthcare industry right now. Nurses in a compact RN license state can give telehealth care to patients from other states with ease. This helps patients who need specialized telehealth services and allows nurses to do that easily.
State and Patient Benefits to the Nursing Licensure Compact
The flexibility for nurses to fill patient needs beyond state lines has increased healthcare opportunities for patients living in nursing compact states. As seen from the COVID-19 pandemic, this collaboration aids in disaster preparedness, cross-state cooperation, and greater access to care across the nation.
- Availability of Nurses: Rural and remote areas in compact nursing license states have access to a greater number of nurses that can provide care if needed.
- Disaster Preparedness: Like the COVID-19 pandemic, a compact state can send the appropriate amount of nurses to areas that need them the most. A state going through a natural disaster, virus outbreak, or other unpredictable circumstances will need more nurses to help with the number of people who need care.
- Promotes Cooperation: Nurses in compact states can cooperate with nurses and healthcare professionals across state lines, allowing for more collaboration and assistance in unprecedented scenarios.
- Greater Access to Care: Patients in states not in the NLC miss out on specialized care that they could benefit from because of state lines.
COVID-19 Effects on Licensure Status by State
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a majority of states to enact emergency licensing waivers that allowed nurses to practice outside of their home states. The overload of people hospitalized by the virus warranted states that were most affected to request additional staffing.
Nurses and other healthcare professionals during the pandemic witnessed record numbers of hospitalizations and worked tireless hours providing care for patients.
As the pandemic progressed, a majority of states have rescinded the emergency nursing license with the increase in vaccinations and decrease in hospitalizations. Additionally, some states have implemented a policy that provides emergency licenses to nurses caring specifically for COVID-19 patients.
Frequently Asked Questions: Nursing Licensure Compact
How many states are nursing license compact states?
As of August 2022, 37 states and U.S. jurisdictions are NLC states. Another two (Ohio and Pennsylvania) have passed the legislation but are not yet among the nursing compact states.
How do you apply for a multistate license?
You apply to the state board of nursing in the state where you currently live or attend school, as long as it is an NLC state. You must reside or be a student in a participating state and present proof of residence.
Which states are not part of the nurse licensure compact?
Ohio and Pennsylvania have passed legislation to become NLC states, but not yet enacted it, as of August 2022. Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Rhode Island have pending legislation to join the Nursing Licensure Compact states. Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state do not participate and do not have pending legislation.
How do nurses obtain their license when moving from one NLC state to another?
If this is a permanent move, you must submit proof of residence in the new state and apply for a new license before or once you move to your new state. You can continue to practice with your old multistate license until you receive your new license.
Page last reviewed September 7, 2022
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