NLC – Simple and Easy But Often Misunderstood


Nursing License Compact

Through the Nurse License Compact, NLC, nurses have the ability to work across state lines, the state boards of nursing reach an understanding of cooperation and coordination, and licensing laws across state borders are effectively enforced.

There are currently 24 states that participate in effectively allowing a properly licensed nurse in his or her home state, their residency, to practice in other compact states without having to get an additional license in that state. Keep in mind the NLC applies to RN, LPN/LVN, but not APRN’s.

nursing license verification


Having a compact license, in a compact state, allows cross-border work, both physically and/or electronically, in another compact state.

Steps to Obtain a Compact License:

Step 1 – Nurse obtains proper license in primary state of residence

Step 2 – Nurse maintains requirements for licensure in primary state

Step 3 – Nurse applies for compact nurse license and, if approved, gains privilege to practice in compact states

Step 4 – Nurse remains subject to Nurse Practice Act in state of practice

Step 5 – Nurse is familiar with any difference in laws in state of practice

A compact license should not be confused with a national license. Nevertheless, it is recognized nationally, meaning, enforcement takes place in the state where a violation occurs.

Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators (NCLA) are the executive directors of the boards of nursing in Nurse License Compact states and is a quasi-governmental organization that enforces the Nurse License Compact.

The NLC is simple but widely misunderstood. The most commonly misunderstood concept of the NLC is moving from one state to another. The change of residency never seizes to complicate matters and causes confusion.

When Moving from One Compact State to Another Compact State:

The state of residency matters, keep this in mind. A compact license allows nurses to work not live in other compacts. So, once you move to another compact state you will have to get properly licensed in that state you newly reside in. Once you declare the new state of residency your license in the previous state of residency expires. There is a 30-90 day window that allows you to work with your old license, from the previous state of residency, in the new state of residency. You must notify the board of nursing in the former state that you have moved. It is highly recommended to allow plenty of time to get all of this situated in order to get your ducks in a row so you ar in compliance.

When Moving From One Compact State to a Noncompact:

It is basically the same process except your compact license will be changed to a single-state license, which will only be valid in that state. Again, state of residency matters and you have to declare the state you are residing in.

Keep in Mind:

An international nurse on a visa applying for licensure may declare either the country of origin or the compact state as primary state of residence. If the foreign country is declared the primary state of residence, a single state license is issued.

Military Nurse Practice: Policy 3.7

  • A federal /military nurse practicing on a base/VA facility, need only have one license from any jurisdiction per U.S. federal/military policy.  When practicing in a civilian facility, the nurse is bound by the compact law and rules.
  • A federal/ military nurse with proof of residency in a Compact state may be issued a multistate license.  If the nurse does not have proof of residency in a compact state, nurse may be issued a single-state license. The nurse may not hold more than one multi-state license.
  • Standard compact proof of residency documentation applies
  • Note: Military form #2058 requires nurse to state legal residence

Nurse License Compact, allows nurses with a compact license to work in both their home state and other party states. This takes in consideration the mobility of nurses as well as providing the flexibility with a single healthcare license.

This convenience is easily misunderstood so it is important to be educated in order to stay in compliance. Many times, the compliance issue lies with a new employee because the employer was not aware he/she recently moved. The new employee was not aware of the regulation and therefore is practicing with the wrong license. ProviderTrust helps tremendously with preventing these misunderstandings by finding, and connecting the dots, to ensure nursing license verification compliance.


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