Everything You Should Know About Compact Licensure

May 14th, 2015 | Posted by Amber in Travel Nursing, Travel Tips, Traveler Tips

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The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) was established in 2000 to simplify the licensing process across state lines for registered nurses and licensed practical or vocational nurses. If you are licensed in one compact state, you may work in your home state as well as another compact state without having to apply for a license in other compact states. This benefits almost every professional, but particularly those interested in travel nursing.


How to obtain compact licensure

If the state you have declared as your primary state of residence is a compact state, and you are licensed to practice in that state, your license is designated as a compact license. Compact license status is determined by your state of residence.

If your primary residence is not a compact state, but you move to a compact state, you can then apply in the new state for licensure by endorsement. Your new license will be a compact license, and your license in the non-compact state will still be valid.

If your primary residence is in a compact state and you move to a non-compact state, and you wish to practice nursing, you must apply for licensure by endorsement to that state’s board of nursing. Your compact license is no longer valid and cannot be used to practice in any compact state. Your new license will be only for the state of your primary residency.

If you move from one compact state to another compact state, you do need to apply for licensure by endorsement. You can obtain a complete list of requirements from the National Council of State Boards of Licensing (NCSBL).


Rules and Regulations

It is important to remember that nursing licenses are granted by individual states. In order to practice in any state, you must follow the practice act in whatever state you practice–regardless of whether it is a compact state or not. It is imperative to keep all the boards of nursing informed of your residence. That means notifying the board in every state for which you hold a license when you change your state of residency.

Your state of residency will change to the new state when one of three things happens:

  • You get a license to drive in the new state, or,
  • You register to vote in the new state, or,
  • You file your federal tax return in the new state.


Compact states

There are currently 24 compact states with legislation pending in four others. The ultimate goal is to have all 50 states join in the compact. The NCSBL has a state map that shows the compact states and has a feature where you can click on any state and be taken to the state licensing board for more information.

For your convenience, here is a current master list of the compact states:


  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri


  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin


Take advantage of Compact Licensure and expand your work opportunities, particularly if you are interested in travel nursing, Enjoy the easy privilege of practicing in any of the compact states when you have a compact state license.
Those with pending legislation to become compact states include: Minnesota, Montana, New York and Oklahoma.

Let us help you find your next travel assignment! Contact us today at www.pprtravelnursing.com.

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