Nursing Compact States | Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC)

Ann Feeney
Updated March 28, 2024
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Nurse Licensure Compact states allow nurses to practice in other states with one license. Learn how to get your multistate license from an NLC state.
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The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses in the U.S. to practice in other states with a multistate license. Currently, 38 states and two territories are on the list of NLC jurisdictions.

Check out the resources below to learn more about the states that are a part of this compact and how nurses in these states can benefit.

What Is the Nurse Licensure Compact?

The NLC is an agreement among states to allow nurses to practice with a multi-state license. If you earn a nursing license in one of the nursing compact states, you can use it in a participating state without applying for another license.

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 for maintaining licensure, nurses should check for individual requirements from their 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 Nursing Compact 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 Nursing Compact States and Status

List of NLC States and Jurisdictions
JurisdictionNLC Status
AlabamaNLC State
AlaskaNon-NLC State
ArizonaNLC State
ArkansasNLC State
CaliforniaNon-NLC State
ColoradoNLC State
ConnecticutNon-NLC State
DelawareNLC State
District of ColumbiaNon-NLC State
FloridaNLC State
GeorgiaNLC State
GuamPartial NLC Implementation
HawaiiNon-NLC State
IdahoNLC State
IllinoisNon-NLC State
IndianaNLC State
IowaNLC State
KansasNLC State
KentuckyNLC State
LouisianaNLC State
MaineNLC State
MarylandNLC State
MassachusettsPending Legislation
MichiganNon-NLC State
MinnesotaNon-NLC State
MississippiNLC State
MissouriNLC State
MontanaNLC State
NebraskaNLC State
NevadaNon-NLC State
New HampshireNLC State
New JerseyNLC State
New MexicoNLC State
New YorkNon-NLC State
North CarolinaNLC State
North DakotaNLC State
OhioNLC State
OklahomaNLC State
OregonNon-NLC State
PennsylvaniaEnacted NLC: Awaiting NLC Implementation
Rhode IslandEnacted NLC: Awaiting NLC Implementation
South CarolinaNLC State
South DakotaNLC State
TennesseeNLC State
TexasNLC State
UtahNLC State
VermontNLC State
Virgin IslandsEnacted NLC: Awaiting NLC Implementation
VirginiaNLC State
WashingtonPartial NLC Implementation
West VirginiaNLC State
WisconsinNLC State
WyomingNLC State

Source: NCSBN (August 2023)

Benefits to Being a Nurse in a Compact State

Being a nurse in an NLC state has many benefits, including job opportunities, financial benefits, and the ability to practice telehealth nursing.

  • More Opportunities: Nurses in Compact 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 an NLC 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 who 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.

During the pandemic, nurses and other healthcare professionals witnessed record numbers of hospitalizations and worked tireless hours providing care for patients.

As the pandemic progressed, many states rescinded the emergency nursing license with an increase in vaccinations and a 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

question-mark-circleHow many states are nursing license compact states?

As of August 2023, 38 states and two U.S. territories are NLC states.

question-mark-circleHow 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.

question-mark-circleWhich states are not part of the nurse licensure compact?

Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have passed legislation to become an NLC state but have not yet enacted it, as of August 2023. Massachusetts has pending legislation to join the NLC. Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York and Oregon do not participate and do not have pending legislation.

question-mark-circleHow 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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