The Nurse Licensure Compact


The Nurse Licensure Compact

June 11, 2018

By Karen Wilkinson, RN, NHA, CLNC – CareerSmart® Learning Contributor


The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) was originally implemented 18 years ago as an interstate agreement that allowed a nurse to be licensed in one state but also have the privilege of practicing in other “compact” states.  The NLC recognized that a more adaptable system of nursing licensure was needed.  At that time, changing technologies were emerging in healthcare that individual state licensing boards were not positioned to efficiently address.  The mobility and practice of nurses across state boundaries created challenges for nurses, as well as for state boards of nursing. The necessity of multiple individual state licenses, and adherence to various state laws, regulations, and continuing education requirements complicated the practice of nurses who lived in one state but worked in another, or were electronically teaching or working in a different state.  And state boards of nursing were concerned with patient safety issues affected by a nurse’s level of compliance with multiple state licensure laws and with state board-related enforcement activities.[1]  Between the years 2000-2008, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Colorado, and Rhode Island pioneered the NLC.[2]

On January 19, 2018, an updated version of the NLC, called the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), was implemented.  The eNLC authorizes registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses to apply for a multi-state license if they reside in a participating state and meet minimum requirements.  A multi-state license allows the nurse to practice both physically and electronically in their state of residence, as well as in all other eNLC states.   However, if a nurse needs to work in a state that is not a member of the eNLC, a single-state license issued from the state is necessary.  Whether the nurse holds a multi-state or single-state license, the laws and regulations of the state where the patient is located must be followed. There are currently 29 states that have implemented eNLC, but that number is anticipated to increase as new states join.[3]

The goal of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing is that eNLC will be enacted in every U.S. state.  Why is the eNLC important?  Besides the flexibility it affords nurses, a multi-state license ensures that nurses practicing in all compact states have met 11 minimum requirements:

  1. Requirements for licensure in the home state have been met;
  2. Has an active, unencumbered license;
  3. Graduated from an approved nursing program;
  4. Passed licensure examination;
  5. English proficiency;
  6. Passed criminal background check, including fingerprints;
  7. No felony convictions;
  8. No misdemeanor convictions related to nursing practice;
  9. Not currently participating in an alternative program;
  10. Agree to self-disclose participation in an alternative program; and,
  11. Possesses a valid U.S. Social Security number.[4]

Single state licensure may still be available to those nurses not meeting the eNLC uniform licensure requirements.


For more information about eNLC and the status of state implementation, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing at:


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[1] Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators (NLCA).  Nurse Licensure Compact, Final Version, November 6, 1998.  Retrieved June 07, 2018 from

[2]  National Council of State Boards of Nursing.  Original Nurse Licensure Compact.  Retrieved June 07, 2018 from

[3] National Council of State Boards of Nursing.  Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) Implementation.  Retrieved June 07m, 2018 from

[4] National Council of State Boards of Nursing.  Uniform Licensure Requirements for a Multistate License.  Retrieved June 07, 2018 from

March 4, 2019

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