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Travel in 37 states on one nursing license: 2021 nurse licensure update

Last updated Nov. 1, 2021 to add the US VI as a territory with pending legislation to join the compact.

Being able to work in multiple states under one nurse license is expanding across the country. So far, 37 states and one territory have passed legislation and joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). This is an important development for travel nurses because it makes your nurse license a lot more portable.

NLC states map as of 11/1/2021

What states can I work in with a Nurse Compact license?

These are the 37 states and one U.S. territory that have passed eNLC legislation and belong to the compact.

*Guam and New Jersey have partial implementation. This means nurses with active multi-state NLC licenses can practice in Guam and New Jersey. However, it also means nurses with New Jersey or Guam as their primary state of residency can’t apply for a multi-state license until the NLC is fully implemented there in late 2021 (for New Jersey) or 2022 (for Guam).

**Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont have entered the compact but are still awaiting implementation.

States and territories with still pending eNLC legislation include:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Important travel nurse license facts about the NLC

To help you understand how the Nurse Licensure Compact works, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing has put together an online list of frequently asked questions and answers. Several more states are considering joining the compact. Here’s how to stay informed as things develop:

  1. Visit the NCSBN website for important eNLC updates
  2. Contact your home state board for application specifics
  3. Get in touch with your RNnetwork recruiter for additional help

We’ve summarized a few answers to the most common questions here, and you can see the complete list on the NCSBN website.

Q: How can I get a compact multistate license if I live in a noncompact state?

A: Only nurses who declare a compact state as their primary state of residence are eligible for a multistate license. If you are a resident of a noncompact state, 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. Of course, you can have as many single-state licenses as you wish.

Q: What does Primary State of Residence mean?

A: For compact purposes, primary state of residence (PSOR) is not related to property ownership in a given state. It is about your legal residency status. If a nurse’s PSOR is a compact state, that nurse may be eligible for a multistate (compact) license. If a nurse cannot declare a compact state as his/her PSOR, that nurse is not eligible for a compact license.

Q: I live in a compact state and have a license from that state. What do I need to do to get a multistate license?

A: When you applied for that 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 already be a multistate license. A good way to check is to use the Quick Confirm tool at www.nursys.com. In the event your license is not designated as multistate, you will need to contact the your primary state of residence’s board of nursing.

What does it all mean for me right now?

The short answer is that more than half the country is in reach with one home state license. And as other states join the compact, getting a multi-state license will open up even more travel possibilities. That doesn’t mean the bar will be lower — you still have to be great at what you do, with the documentation to prove it. What it does mean is that once you clear your home state licensing hurdles, there’s a process in place to practice in multiple compact states.

Imagine the new people, places, and experiences that are waiting for you out there. Whether you crave fulfilling new patient care opportunities, new friendships, or the chance to make off-time memories in new places, this is an industry trend that’s great for you.

For additional licensing help, talk to your RNnetwork recruiter or for general assistance call 800.866.0407.

About the author

Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnell is a content developer at RNnetwork and loves bringing people together with stories that make a difference. After hours, Tim is a book, movie, and music enthusiast and will seize just about any opportunity to travel.


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  • Question: If my Nursing license is originally from California, but I move to Idaho, and declare that as my primary state of residence and obtain a nursing license in Idaho…does that make me eligible for the compact states? Or will I still have to obtain a license in each state I wish to travel to?

  • I just renew my florida license. I also have NY license what are the steps to take to get a compact license

    • There is another fee with the state of Florida for the multi state. Just contact the board of nursing on their website. You can upgrade there.

  • Dear mam,i have rn license of newjersey…I can work in other states with this license or not…please reply..what’s the procedures….

    • Hello Johnsy, according to the NLC website, New Jersey is allowing nurses who hold active, unencumbered, multi-state licenses issued by Nurse Licensure Compact member states to practice in New Jersey under their multi-state licenses. For further questions about where a nurse licensed in New Jersey can work, I would recommend contacting your local regulatory body for the most up-to-date information.

    • Because Hawaii is not part of the licensure compact, you would need to obtain a Hawaiian nurse license prior to beginning work there. If you’re interested in working in Hawaii with RNnetwork, one of our consultants will be able to help walk you through the steps of obtaining one. You can reach us through the link at the top of our website or by calling 1-800-866-0407.