Nursing Licensure Compact NLC – Explained

Debra Riley


If you are a registered nurse or an LVN/LPN you might not want to stay in one place for work. If your state is a compact state you would be able to work in other states that have also enacted the compact state licensure.

The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses to work across multiple states without the worry of having to register and gain licensing in each state. It removes the need for renewal and fees in each state you wish to practice in. Many Boards of Nursing are working in collaboration and streamlining requirements allowing for continuity across state lines.

When applying for a license in your home state you can acquire a multi-state license which gives you the benefits of working in compact states.

nurse licensure compact states

Multi State License

There are certain criteria you must meet in order to apply for a multistate license:

  • You must be a resident in a multi-state license and state that NLC state as your primary residence.
  • You need to have an active license as a registered nurse or LPN/LVN.
  • You must meet any licensing requirements by your home state and when practicing in another compact state you need to adhere to the standards set out by that state.

Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC)

The NLC was officially changed to eNLC in July 2018 and all states except Rhode Island joined the new program and adhere to the guidelines.

The ability to work across state lines only applies to RN’s and LPN’s or LVN’s at present there are no guidelines or legislation in place for APRN’s. The NCSBN have been trying to get a compact agreement in place but to date only three states have signed up for this and for it to be pass legislation there needs to be 10 states signed up.

Have You Got a Compact License?

The best way to check this out is by logging into your Nursys account. This is a national database and holds all the information for licensure, practice privileges and disciplinary actions for RN’s and LPN’s.

You can view your compact position and if you download your report you can see all the states you can or cannot practice in.

Nursing in a Compact State


Your license allows you to work across the 34 states currently in the eNLC. This has a huge benefit for travel nurses as they don’t need to register in each state saving them time and money.

Compact states can be assured of your practice as you have proved yourself in other states.You have options to work in most places in the US, well those that have enacted eNLC!


There are not many except if your home state in not currently a compact state or is awaiting legislation. There is no telling how long this could take and in the meantime you might want to consider changing your Primary State of Residence (PSOR) . This however could mean you apply for licensure in another state to comply with their requirements.

nurse licensure

eNLC Requirements for Compact States

There are 11 licensure requirements for a multi-state license as set out by the Commission:

  • Meet the state of residency licensure requirements
  • Graduated from an approved nursing program either home or if abroad through an international program that is verified
  • Has passed the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN
  • The ability to pass an English exam if English is not your first language
  • Is eligible or holds an unencumbered license
  • Submitted to finger-print criminal background check
  • No state or felony convictions
  • No misdemeanor convictions in relation to nursing practice
  • Is not participating in an alternative program
  • Required to disclose participation in an alternative program
  • Must have a valid United States Social Security number

All those applying to the eNLC must meet these requirements. The Board looked carefully at each states licensure requirements and tried to develop guidelines which took into account each states needs. This was done in the hope that more states would participate.

Some states however resisted and have so far not joined. Their concerns included disciplinary action, loss of state revenue for single state licenses, patient privacy and confidentiality and the growth of telemedicine and telenursing.

List of Compact States

This is the most up to date list of compact states, those awaiting legislation and those states that are not part of the eNLC.

Current eNLC States

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

States Awaiting Legislation for the eNLC

  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania

States Without Legislation for the eNLC

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island (part of original NLC)
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Impact for Nurses in Compact States

If your state has pending legislation or has recently joined eNLC your State Board of Nursing will get in contact with you. You will need to show proof of state residency for them to decide if you have compact state eligibility.

compact state nursing

If you are not due to renew your nursing license you don’t need to do anything as you will be issued with a new license if you meet the requirements for eNLC without any further cost to you.

You must be resident in a eNLC state to obtain a compact license. If you are a non-resident you can apply for licensure by endorsement but will only get a single state license. You can apply for multiple state licenses although this could be costly.

By signing up to Nursys you can be assured you will be kept up to date with information regarding eNLC and also your renewals and license expiry dates.

In relation to continuing education needs you NEED to meet the requirements for your issuing state and not the one you practice in.

The compact states are ever changing with new states joining the scheme and some awaiting approval to join. This will make it easier for nurses to fulfill the increasing demand for nurses throughout the country.