The Ultimate Guide to Nursing Compact States 2022

Enhanced nurse licensure compact is a way for registered nurses and other healthcare professionals to practice outside of their primary state. Nurses restricted to a single state license, in short are now able to have what some have described at additional licenses for other states that are member states or eNLC states and have been changed by an agency called the Enhanced Nurse Licensed Compact.

It is one in which nurses who have their medical license in a state or territory are allowed with an enhanced compact license to practice in any enhanced compact state.

Nursing Compact States and How to Apply for a Compact Nursing License (Everything You Need to Know)

Applying for a Nurse Licensure Compact is easier than you may think. As long as you meet all of the requirements, the application process is straightforward and doesn’t take much time to complete. Registered Nurses can find this application form on your state’s nurse’s regulatory body and license website.

The Nursing Compact License is essentially a multistate license allows professionally certified and licensed nurses to work in multiple states regardless of where they originally maintained licensure. There are many benefits to the eNLC, helping to improve the way we conduct health care today.

What is a Compact Nursing License

Generally, once a nurse completes nursing school, becomes certified, and obtains their license, they are only legally allowed to practice in the state they were licensed in known as single state licenses. With a compact nursing license or The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), a nurse is given the okay to work in any state that accepts the use of this license; including office visits and telemedicine. 

Currently, at the end of 2021, there are 34 states that are part of this program and one territory (Guam.) With multiple others in pending legislation for approval. 

Do You Have Compact Licensure Eligibility?

To qualify for a compact status, you first and foremost must hold a valid United States Registered Nurse RN license in an approved compact state from the state board of nursing. You also need to provide verifiable proof that you currently reside in the same state you are licensed in providing a permanent address.

For those already licensed and certified by the board of nursing, you can easily apply for your compact nursing license when you renew your current license. 

Uniform Licensure Requirements for a Multistate License

Getting compact multi state licenses issued isn’t an immediate process. You must determine compact license eligibility and requires a lot of information and many steps, taken a few months before you can be approved.

Here is a list of the 11 requirements that apply to nurses practicing in any state.

  1. All applicants must meet the licensure requirements in their primary state of residency. (approved proof of residency includes federal income tax return, driver’s license, or voters registration card.)
  2. The applicant must have graduated from a board-approved education program, or
  3. an international education program that was approved by the applicable country authorized accrediting body and passes credential reviews.
  4. If the applicant is not a resident in the country they are applying in and the individual’s native language isn’t English, they must pass an English proficiency exam.
  5. All applicants are required to take and pass the predecessor exam, NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN® Examination.
  6. Each applicant must hold an active, unencumbered license or is at least eligible to practice nursing. All applicable fees must be up to date.
  7. Applicants must submit state and federal fingerprints background checks.
  8. Applicants will not be eligible if they have been convicted of or found guilty of any federal felony convictions.
  9. Applicants must not have misdemeanor convictions involving the nursing practice.
  10. Applicants can not be currently enrolled in an alternative program
  11. Any applicant currently participating in an alternative program is required to self-disclose this information.
  12. All eligible applicants must own a legal state-issued U.S social security number.

All applicants must meet each of the 11 requirements in order to apply for the Nurse Licensure Compact eNLC, no matter which NLC state they are applying in.

The requirements for the Nurse Licensure Compact eNLC differ from the original state nurses licensure and the requirements needed for nursing school and future education.

For information regarding those requirements, visit your local government website for state-specific licensures. Here you will also receive all the up to date information regarding fees and the application process.

Obtaining Your Homes States Application Forms

Once you have all of the 11 requirements secured, you will then be directed to your home state boards nurses regulatory body and license website

From there, you will have access to your state-specific application forms and information guiding you to obtaining your license.

Once the information is filled out in detail and to the best of your knowledge, you will have to wait for a determination and your license upgrade.

It is important that you complete this paperwork not missing any questions and disclosing any misdemeanor convictions related criminal history in length.

Note: misdemeanor offenses are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and don’t necessarily mean you will be denied your license.

What are the Benefits of a Compact Nursing License?

While a handful of states still have their concerns about joining the eNLC, there are many advantages to a multistate license versus a single state license, especially during the current healthcare crisis due to the viral outbreaks.

Increase in Nurse Availability

With a Compact Nursing License, there is the obvious benefit of having access to nurses outside of a state whenever there is a shortage.

Before the multi-state license was available, nurses were only permitted to practice in the state they resided in and had their license in, which made them unavailable to other states where nurses were scarce, or a widespread health crisis, or severe devastation (such as natural disasters) required additional health care workers. 

Now, when there is an overwhelming need for professional nurses in one state, nurses from other participating compact states can transfer when and where ever needed. This is beneficial for travel nurses who prefer to work travel nursing jobs.

Ability to Practice in Growing Workforce

It seems like the healthcare field is leaving the private practice world for the multi-state healthcare industry. These advancements allow many health care buildings to exist under the same company, but in many different locations, some bigger than others, with more opportunity.

Compact Nursing Licensure will give many professional health care providers other than just travel nurses the ability to re-locate when needed in order to follow better opportunities or take more prominent roles within the same company, no matter which state it is located in. Multi state licenses can help many nurses, not just those in the travel nursing area to practice across state lines.

Improving Telehealth

Modern technology has taken the world by storm in recent years in many aspects of life, with one of the biggest changes being in the healthcare field. One of these big changes includes the use of telemedicine, allowing patients to get service and treatment over the phone or live video chat. 

In order for nurses to help take on the millions of Americans flocking to this new and much more convenient way of receiving health care, they are required to have a license to practice in the state the patient is being billed in.

With the multi-state license, nurses can provide services to anyone anywhere as long as they live in an eNLC states.

Why Are Some States Refusing to Join?

As previously mentioned, there are still a handful of states who have no interest in participating in the Compact Nursing Licensure program. These issues are worth taking a look at as they do hold some water and may need to be addressed at some point in the future.

Lack of Uniform Required Professional Growth

Up till now, each national council state board has implemented its own rules and guidelines for continuing education for nurse licensure, which typically required yearly testing or re-certification to ensure nurses are keeping up with changing laws and procedures.

Currently, there are no guidelines all nurses must follow in order to maintain furthering education, which can place them at all different skill levels.

Increase in Telemedicine

Although telemedicine has become a very popular way to get quick and convenient health care, there are still many doctors and government officials who believe standard health care practice and in-office visits are still critical in proper care.

If more nurses are able to practice in multiple states, the telehealth industry will continue to grow, and office practices will start to diminish.

Lack of Disciplinarian Standards

The lines of disciplinarian responsibility in states that utilize multi-state nurse licensing are currently unclear, which can get a little complicated.

If a nurse is practicing somewhere other than their own home state and disciplinary action is required, the jurisdiction lines are blurred, and there may be disputes and legal issues over who is held responsible for dealing with each situation for compact states.

There is also the issue with compact states taking different approaches to their disciplinarian standards, making it difficult to determine the best cause of action in each individual case.

Which States Are Currently Involved with The eNLC?

There are many eNLC member states currently allowing nurses to apply for a Nursing Compact License, with many others who are currently pending eNLC legislation.

If you are a nurse licensed in one of the eNLC states below, you are eligible to apply for compact enhanced nursing licensure.

  • Alabama  
  • Arizona 
  • Arkansas 
  • Colorado 
  • Delaware 
  • Florida 
  • Georgia 
  • Idaho 
  • Indiana  
  • Iowa 
  • Kansas  
  • Kentucky 
  • Louisiana
  • Maine 
  • Maryland 
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri 
  • Montana 
  • Nebraska 
  • New Hampshire  
  • New Jersey 
  • New Mexico 
  • North Carolina 
  • North Dakota 
  • Ohio 
  • Oklahoma 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • South Carolina 
  • South Dakota 
  • Tennessee 
  • Texas 
  • Utah 
  • Vermont 
  • Virginia 
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin  
  • Wyoming

Approved Territories

  • Guam

States pending NLC Legislation and awaiting implementation

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island

States and territories that are refusing participation in compact status and eNLC legislation at this time

  • Alaska 
  • American Samoa 
  • Connecticut 
  • District of Columbia 
  • Hawaii 
  • Mariana Islands 
  • Minnesota 
  • Nevada 
  • New York 
  • Oregon 
  • Washington
  • Virgin Islands

Areas not currently compact approved are changing rapidly, and these states can change at any time. To find an updated list, you can check the NCSBN website to see if there is any new legislation pending.

Supporting Organizations Throughout the US

Many healthcare organizations throughout the states believe in the enhanced nurse licensure compact and support it openly. Below is a list of some of these organizations that stand by this license.

  • Association of Camp Nurses
  • Organization for Associate Degree Nursing
  • Hospital Corporation of American Healthcare
  • National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
  • Commission for Case Manager Certification
  • Cross Country Healthcare
  • National Patient Safety Foundation
  • Telehealth leadership Council
  • American Association of Poison Control Centers
  • Population Health Alliance
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • National Student Nurses Association
  • Association for Vascular Access
  • Oncology Nursing Society
  • National League for Nursing
  • American Association of Colleges of Nurses
  • American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
  • Neuroscience Nurses American Association
  • National Military Family Association
  • Emergency Nurses Association


Because the Compact Nurses License is so new and many people still have tons of questions, here is a list of the more commonly asked ones.

What is the Difference Between a Compact and A Multi-State License?

There is absolutely no difference between the two licenses, these names are often interchanged depending on who you speak with. Both mean the same thing, with Compact Nursing License being the legal term used.

What is the Fee to Apply for a Compact Nurses License?

The fee to obtain your Compact Nurses License will vary depending on the state you live in. You can find this information on your state’s website.

How Can You Obtain a Compact Nursing license if You Live in a Non-Participating State?

Unfortunately, you can not receive or practice with a Compact Nursing License if you currently reside in a state that does not participate in the program.

Can You Apply For a Compact Nursing License if You Live in a Non-Compact State But Own Other Property in the Compact States?

In order to be eligible for a compact nursing license, your primary residence must be in a compact approved state. Owning property in any other state doesn’t impact your qualification for licensure.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Approved Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact?

Once your application is completed and you have met all of the requirements to qualify for a compact nursing license, the process shouldn’t take too long for you to be approved. However, if you are a licensed nurse in a compact state (and you met all of the requirements), you may already have a compact license.

How Long Can You Work Outside Your Residential State With a Compact License?

There is no time frame placed on a compact states nurse’s license. As long as you remain compliant with the qualification regulations and requirements, you can work in any participating compact state for as long as you need to.

However, if you are going to be moving to another compact state, you will be required to register with that state, changing your primary residence status.

Summing Things Up

Although not all US states are currently on board, more than half of them are already participating in the compact nursing license program, making it beneficial to all who qualify to take action and apply for their multi-state license as soon as they can.

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