What is a Compact State?
Compact states include all states that have passed or are in the process of passing the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) legislature.
Compact nursing states allow registered nurses to receive one nursing license in their primary state and then be able to work in multiple states without needing to obtain additional licenses.
What is a Compact License?
In the past, registered nurses were required to receive nurse licensure for each state they practiced in. If a nurse wanted to work in a new location, they would need to apply for licensure within that state.
This system was implemented as a way to ensure that nurses upheld the healthcare standards specific to each state. However, the time-consuming process became near-impossible for nurses who wished to travel from state to state.
Many states adopted the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) to ease this process and eliminate the multi-state license requirement.
The Nurse Licensure Compact is a leap forward in unifying standards for nurses and enhancing the nursing industry.
Nurses that receive compact nursing licensure can legally practice in multiple states without having to receive a new license in each state.
What Are the Nursing Compact States? (NLC Member States)
Nurses can work in any participating compact nursing state with a compact multistate license. Here is a full list of compact nursing states that accept a universal multi-state license:
- Guam (partial implementation status)
- Louisiana (for registered and licensed practical nurses only)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Ohio (awaiting implementation on January 1st, 2023)
- Pennsylvania (law passed; awaiting implementation date)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Virgin Islands (law passed; awaiting implementation date)
- West Virginia (for registered and licensed practical nurses only)
Pending Nurse Compact States
Several states have legislation pending to join the NLC. The states with pending compact status include:
States/Territories Without eNLC Legislation
Some states and territories have not considered or have denied membership with the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). These states include:
Why the NLC is Important
A universal multi-state license ensures that nurses in NLC member states have identical qualifications and are held to the same standards.
The advent of the compact nursing license makes it possible for nurses to apply for a singular license to work in any of the compact nursing states.
Benefits of the Nurse Licensure Compact
The NLC directly benefits nurses, their patients, and the healthcare facilities that hire nurses. The nursing industry can welcome more nurses and provide extra patient care by making the state licensure process more efficient without sacrificing healthcare standards.
Compact Nursing License Benefits for Nurses
Having a compact nurse license allows nurses to pursue opportunities outside the state where they were initially licensed.
Being able to work in multiple states regardless of legal residency status provides nurses with new employment options that can be pursued with minimal paperwork. The nurse compact license also eliminates license renewal fees.
States with a compact status can make telehealth a more accessible and practical option, as nurses have extended practice privileges.
Compact Nursing License Benefits for Patients
Nursing shortages are a significant healthcare concern. In areas that accept compact licenses, patients can receive care from travel nurses to alleviate nursing shortage woes.
NLC standards help to ensure that patients receive the best care from qualified nurses. Compact nursing licenses can also provide more accessible healthcare to patients in remote areas.
Compact Nursing License Benefits for Healthcare Facilities
Compact nursing licenses provide healthcare facilities with increased access to qualified nurses, background checks, and other information.
Rather than sifting through specific nursing program qualifications, the NLC provides healthcare facilities with clearly defined standards that licensed nurses must meet.
Requirements for Compact Nursing License
To determine compact license eligibility, nurses can refer to these requirements directly spelled out by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN):
- Meets the requirements for licensure in the home state (state of residency)
- Has graduated from a board-approved education program; or
- Has graduated from an international education program (approved by the authorized accrediting body in the applicable country and verified by an independent credentials review agency);
- Has passed an English proficiency exam (applies to graduates of an international education program not taught in English or if English is not the individual’s native language)
- Has passed an NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN® Examination or predecessor exam
- Is eligible for or holds an active, unencumbered license (i.e., without active discipline)
- Has submitted to state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks
- Has no federal felony convictions or has never entered into an agreed disposition of a felony offense under applicable state or federal criminal law
- Has no misdemeanor convictions related to the practice of nursing (determined on a case-by-case basis)
- Is not currently a participant in an alternative program
- Is required to self-disclose current participation in an alternative program
- Has a valid United States Social Security number.
Consider a Job in a Nursing Compact State
If you want to become a registered nurse or pursue a similar nursing career, now is the time to pursue it! With new legislature and access to compact state licenses, it is easier than ever for qualified nurses to find jobs in their desired locations.
Travel Nursing Jobs in Nursing Compact States
Once you receive your compact nursing license, becoming a travel nurse in a compact state is a breeze.
To use our tool to find jobs in compact states, go to our browse jobs page and filter your search by state.
Nursing Compact State FAQs
How do I Apply for a Compact State Nursing License?
To begin the application process, you must first claim an NLC state as your primary residency. After this, you can visit your state board of nursing website to upgrade your license.
The application process is easy and takes about a week. You can enroll in Nursys e-Notify system to update you on application and NLC changes.
What is the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC)?
In 2018, the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact was created to expand the NLC.
The eNLC adds additional standards to the compact nursing license, including the need for federal criminal background checks.
Are Nurse Practitioners Included in the Compact States?
Nurse practitioners are not included in the eNLC but have a similar compact called the APRN Compact.
The APRN compact is relatively new. Delaware, North Dakota, and Utah have passed APRN compact legislation, with New York pending legislation.
Can I Get Another License in a Non-Compact State?
Residents in non-compact states can obtain as many state licenses as needed to practice nursing. It is important to stay up to date on renewing all your licenses.
Can I Transfer From a Nursing License Compact State?
Not only does the nursing compact make working in different states easier, but it also simplifies the process of transferring your primary residence to a compact state.
Nurses can apply for licensure by endorsement and complete the Declaration of Primary State of Residence form in their application. This form can be found on your state board of nursing website.
Can You Practice in Non-Compact States?
It is possible to practice in a non-compact state, but the process can be tricky. Nurses must apply for a license specific to the non-compact state and meet their unique requirements. You can then search for licensure by endorsement on the state board of nursing website to receive a new multi-state license.
Do All States Have Compact Nursing Licenses?
Currently, there are 39 states and territories with a compact status, with eight states and territories pending legislation.
Does a Nurse Have to Get a Compact State License?
Nurses must be licensed in the state they practice, regardless of whether it is a single-state or multistate license.
While you can get a single-state license in most states, the nursing compact license is typically the easier option.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Compact State Nursing License?
Assuming you have all the qualifications required for a nursing license, the application review process should take a few days to a week.
Time frames differ for those getting their first license than those converting a single-state license into a compact nursing license.
How to Practice With my Compact License in Another State.
You can practice with no additional steps if you have your eNLC license and are planning to work in compact nursing states.
How to Know if You Have a Compact Nursing License.
To check if you have a compact state license, visit nursys.com and find the QuickConfirm feature.
Nursys is the only national database that allows nurses to check licensure verification. Search by your name, license number, or NCSBN ID to view your report and verify licensure.