The ongoing nursing shortage has had at least one positive outcome for the profession: many states are figuring out new ways to make it easier and faster for RNs to practice across state lines. As a result quite a few states have decided to become Compact Nursing States. 

Significant changes to the original Nurse Licensure Compact went into effect on January 19, 2018. Now called the eNLC, there are 29 member states, with additional states pending membership.

In order to enjoy the many benefits of a compact license, you must have graduated with a RN degree from an accredited institution, have passed the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN exam, have a valid license and original residence in one of the member states.

While the nursing boards do want to make it easier for RNs to practice in a wider range of locations, they also want to maintain patient safety. To that end, prospective multistate license holders must pass a state and federal fingerprint and criminal background check. They can’t have any state or federal felony convictions on their record, or any misdemeanor convictions related to nursing.

International graduates must pass an English language proficiency test.

You’ve met all the eNLC qualifications, now what?

If you are not currently a holder of a multistate license, you should be able to begin the upgrade process online by going to your original state’s BON website.  Most sites have a fairly obvious link — something along the lines of  “eNLC / Multistate Licensure Upgrade Application”.

Some of the process does occur offline, though. In order to complete the fingerprint check, you will probably have to do live fingerprint scan at a certified center in your state of residence. And, yes, there are fees along the way.

It could take as long as take several weeks for your application to be approved.  The results of your review should be sent to you online and/or via U.S.P.S.

Nurses who were members of the previous Licensure Compact are  grandfathered into the new eNLC, and do not need to reapply. However, as always, your original nursing license does expire at regular intervals and must be renewed. If you are a traveling nurse, you may inadvertently have done something (such as applied for a new driver’s license in another state) that would change your home state for tax or licensing purposes, so be aware that such changes may also affect your multistate licensing. If you are unsure if your license is single state or multistate, you can use Quick Confirm at at no cost.

Travelers build time into their job search to make sure they’re ready to go.  Easy guide to nurse licensure time frames by state.