What is a Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) State? (And Who’s Part?)

What is a Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) State (And Who’s Part) featured image

Maybe you’re a nursing student who isn’t very sure which state you want to work in after you graduate. 

Or maybe you are already a nurse who wants to work in multiple states?

Well… The Nursing Licensure Compact (or NLC) was created to address these concerns. 

But you might be asking questions like: 

We’ll answer all these questions and MORE in this article. We’ll also give you a Nursing Licensure Compact States Chart for you to see the NLC status of each state at a glance. 

We have a lot to talk about. So, if you’re ready, let’s begin!

What is a Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) State?

In a nutshell, nurses with a license in an NLC state are allowed to practice in any other NLC state without having to apply for another license. For example: an RN in Arizona can practice in New Mexico without having to apply for a New Mexico license by endorsement. 

As you probably already know, states have unique processes and requirements for the licensure of nurses. 

This made it complicated to practice as a nurse in another state before since the license from one state was not automatically credited. All the nurses had to undergo a process of licensure by endorsement to be able to practice somewhere else. 

This can be a hassle and expensive process, especially if you’re planning to stay in that state for just a few weeks or months. 

This is not just a problem for the nurses but also the states. If a state has a shortage or an immediate need for nurses, it cannot easily hire nurses from other states. 

Some states, therefore, came together and formulated the Nursing Licensure Compact that allows nurses from all participating states to hold a multistate license. 

They are allowed to practice their nursing profession in their home state and any other compact state, without having to apply for a separate nursing license. 

Each of the compact states agrees to honor each other’s nursing licenses. 

This nursing compact was first created in the year 2000. More and more states have participated since then. 

In 2018, they enhanced the standards of the compact and streamlined their requirements. It is now also known as the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC). 

What are the Benefits of NLC States? 

Coming from an NLC state is beneficial for nurses because it widens their practice and gives them more job opportunities. 

They are not limited to practice in just one state. Instead, they have a lot of geographic flexibility especially since most of the states are NLC states or are already pending full implementation to become NLC states. 

Those who don’t come from NLC states can still practice in another state, but they have to go through the licensure process which can be time-consuming, tedious, and expensive. But with the NLC, nurses can skip the hassle. 

This is also beneficial for the participating states because it entails less paperwork for their state’s regulatory board of nursing. 

It is the nursing board that has to review all the applications for licensure. With the NLC, this workload can be lessened. 

Aside from that, if they have a shortage of nurses or a need for a specialized nurse, they can hire nurses from other states who may fit the job description. 

What are the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) States? 

There are 36 NLC states (AL, AZ, AR, CO, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI, and WY), 8 states with Pending legislation (AK, IL, MA, MI, MN, NY, RI, and WA), 6 states not part of the NLC (CA, CT, DC, HI, NV, and OR), and 1 state awaiting NLC implementation (PA).

See the chart below for an easier time finding if your state is part or not! 

Nursing Licensing Compact States Chart 

  • NLC State means the state has already implemented and enacted the NLC.
  • Pending Legislation or Implementation means that the NLC legislation has already been signed, but there is no implementation yet or implementation is partial. 
  • No Pending NLC Legislation means that the state is not an NLC state and has no current action to become one.
State Board of NursingNursing Licensure Compact Status
AlabamaAlabama Board of Nursing NLC State
AlaskaAlaska Board of Nursing Pending Legislation
ArizonaArizona State Board of NursingNLC State
ArkansasArkansas State Board of NursingNLC State
CaliforniaBoard of Registered Nursing No Pending NLC Legislation
ColoradoColorado Board of NursingNLC State
ConnecticutConnecticut Board of NursingNo Pending NLC Legislation
DelawareDelaware Board of NursingNLC State
District of ColumbiaDC Board of NursingNo Pending NLC Legislation
FloridaFlorida Board of NursingNLC State
GeorgiaGeorgia Board of NursingNLC State
HawaiiHawaii Board of NursingNo Pending NLC Legislation
IdahoIdaho Board of Nursing NLC State
IllinoisIllinois Board of Nursing Pending Legislation
IndianaIndiana State Board of NursingNLC State 
IowaIowa Board of NursingNLC State
KansasKansas Nursing BoardNLC State
KentuckyKentucky Board of NursingNLC State
LouisianaLouisiana State Board of NursingNLC State
MaineMaine State Board of NursingNLC State
MarylandMaryland Board of Nursing NLC State
MassachusettsMassachusetts Board of Registration in NursingPending Legislation
MichiganMichigan Board of Nursing Pending Legislation
MinnesotaMinnesota Board of NursingPending Legislation
MississippiMississippi Board of NursingNLC State
MissouriMissouri Nursing BoardNLC State
MontanaMontana Board of Nursing NLC State
NebraskaNebraska Board of NursingNLC State
NevadaNevada State Board of NursingNo Pending NLC Legislation
New HampshireNew Hampshire Board of Nursing NLC State
New JerseyNew Jersey Board of NursingNLC State
New MexicoNew Mexico Board of NursingNLC State
New YorkNew York Board of NursingPending Legislation
North CarolinaNorth Carolina Board of Nursing NLC State
North DakotaNorth Dakota Board of Nursing NLC State
OhioOhio Board of NursingNLC State
OklahomaOklahoma Board of Nursing NLC State
OregonOregon State Board of Nursing No Pending NLC Legislation
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania State Board of Nursing NLC Enacted: Awaiting Implementation
Rhode IslandRhode Island Board of Nurse RegistrationPending Legislation
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Board of Nursing NLC State
South DakotaSouth Dakota Board of Nursing NLC State
TennesseeTennessee Board of NursingNLC State
TexasTexas Board of NursingNLC State
UtahUtah State Board of NursingNLC State
VermontVermont State Board of NursingNLC State
VirginiaVirginia Board of NursingNLC State
WashingtonWashington Board of NursingPending Legislation
West VirginiaWest Virginia RN BoardNLC State
WisconsinWisconsin Board of NursingNLC State
WyomingWyoming State Board of NursingNLC State

For those with pending NLC legislation, it is important to keep updated on whether your state has fully implemented the NLC or not, and what specific implementations have already taken place (if any). 

You can check your state’s board of nursing for more details, and you can also check the NCSBN website

Which Types of Nurses Does the NLC Apply to?

The NLC applies to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs). 

It does not apply to Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). 

However, some states have been pushing for an APRN compact to be established and implemented.

The NCSBN has already developed model legislation for states to be able to enact the APRN Compact. 

This will be fully implemented when at least 7 states enact the legislation. 

For now, APRNs need to apply for single-state APRN licenses even if they belong to an NLC state. 

However, their multistate RN licenses will still be credited in other compact states. 

Am I Eligible for an NLC license?

For you to be able to get an NLC license (also called a ‘compact license’ or ‘multistate license’) you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must reside in an NLC state, and you must declare an NLC state as your primary state of residency. If your primary state of residence is not an NLC state, you are not eligible for an NLC license unless you transfer your primary state of residence to an NLC state. 
  • You must be actively licensed as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed professional nurse (LPN)/licensed vocational nurse (LVN).
  • You must meet any requirements for licensure held by your home state, though when practicing, you will also be held to the standards of the state where the patient or practice is located.
  • When you apply for a license in an NLC state (which is your primary state of residence) and meet all the requirements, the license they issue should already be a multistate license. But if your state only became an NLC state after your initial application, you have to apply for a multistate license from your state’s BON. 

What Should I Do if I Want to Work in Another State but Belong to a Noncompact State?

If you belong to a noncompact state but want to work in another state, you can apply for licensure by endorsement in the state you want to work in. If your application is approved, then they will give you a single-state license to work in that state. 

You can have as many single-state licenses as you want. 

Although the process is a bit more tedious, it is still possible for you to work in many states as long as you have a license by endorsement in those states. 

You don’t need to feel helpless though! There is still a way for you to do this.

What Happens if I Move From One State to Another?  

If you are permanently moving from a noncompact state to a compact state, you need to change your primary state of residence and apply for licensure by endorsement in the state you are moving to. If your application and residency requirements are met, you may be issued a multistate license from your new NLC state.

If you are permanently moving from a compact state to a noncompact state, you need to change your primary state of residence and apply for licensure by endorsement in the noncompact state. However, your multistate license will no longer be applicable and you will only have a single-state license from your new state of residence. 

If you are moving from one compact state to another compact state, you still need to change your primary state of residence and apply for licensure by endorsement in the state you are moving to. Your new home state will issue you a new multistate license. 

In Conclusion

And there you have it!

We’ve discussed what an NLC state is, what are the advantages of belonging to an NLC state, which types of nurses this applies to, which states are NLC states, etc.

We also talked about what happens if you DON’T belong to an NLC state. We saw that, although it may involve more time and effort, it isn’t a helpless condition. You can still work in other states if you undergo the endorsement process. 

We hope you found all this information helpful!

If you have any more questions, please leave us a comment. 

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