What Exactly Does Nursing Licensure by Endorsement Mean?
By Robbie Gould on 09/21/2023
Over the years, the nursing profession has undergone remarkable transformations, adapting to the evolving healthcare landscape and the changing needs of society.
From its origins in the early 19th century, nursing has evolved into a dynamic and multifaceted field. It is typically characterized by the integration of evidence-based practice, technological advancements, specialized nursing fields, expanded roles and increased professional mobility.
The establishment of licensure by endorsement and the nursing compact license have played pivotal roles in shaping the modern nursing profession. Those changes have also empowered nurses to provide high-quality care and offer their expertise in diverse healthcare settings across the country (and even across the ocean).1
If you're on the path to becoming or are a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN), or currently working as either, this is an exciting opportunity for you to learn how to work in any state you'd like at any point in your career.
What is licensure by endorsement?
Nursing licensure by endorsement is basically just a request for your local state nursing board to verify your nursing credentials.
In nursing practice, licensure by endorsement allows an RN or LPN who is already licensed in one U.S. state or territory to more easily apply for and obtain a registered nurse license in another state.
Licensure by endorsement eliminates the need to retake the entire licensing examination (NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN®).
When you apply for a nursing license, you can select either a single state or multi-state license. A multi-state license allows you to practice in all states that participate in the nurse licensure compact, without needing separate applications each time. If you have a multi-state nursing license, nursing licensure by endorsement doesn’t apply to you unless you want to practice nursing in a non-compact state.
If you hold a single-state nursing license and move to a different state, you can apply for a nursing license in that new state using the licensure by endorsement process. If you hold a multi-state nursing license and move to a non-compact state, you’ll go through the same process.
Check the Nursing Compact state list to see if nursing licensure by endorsement applies to you.
If you’re an LPN or RN and already have your initial licensure from your original state's licensing agency, applying for licensure by endorsement essentially allows the new state to verify that your nursing license is active and in good standing.
That original license proves that you have successfully completed an accredited nursing program and passed your licensure exam. Then the nursing board in the new state can issue a license for their state.
What's the purpose of an endorsed license?
The purpose of this licensing process is to facilitate mobility for nurses with an active license. The process allows for registered nurses and those licensed in practical nursing to (pretty much) seamlessly transition from working in one state to working in another. Fortunately, it's not a strenuous or lengthy process.
The endorsement process recognizes a nurse's qualifications in different states, making it easier for them to practice nursing if they decide to move or work in a different state.
Licensure by endorsement is best for:
- Nurses relocating to a new state
- Travel nurses
- Military spouses who are licensed nurses
- Nurses seeking career growth and opportunities
- Nurses in states joining the nursing compact
What are the requirements for licensure endorsement?
The requirements for licensure by endorsement vary by state. Your state’s board of nursing determines them. Go to your local nursing board website to see the requirements that would apply to you.
As an example, if you are applying in the state of Florida, the requirements for licensure endorsement include:
- Providing evidence of a current and active RN license in the original state
- Verifying educational credentials
- Submitting fingerprints for a background check
- Completing additional paperwork or educational modules (sometimes) specific to the new state's regulations2
It is essential to keep in mind that each state may have its own set of additional requirements for nurses. Nurses should contact the nursing board of the state they want to endorse their license. That nursing board will have the most accurate, up-to-date information on the specific process and requirements for licensure endorsement in that state.
How long does it take?
The time it takes to have your license endorsed by another state can vary depending on several factors, including:
- The specific requirements of the state where you seek endorsement
- The completeness and accuracy of your application and official transcripts
- The workload of the state's nursing board or licensing authority
In some cases, the endorsement process can be relatively quick, taking a few weeks to a couple of months. However, in other situations, it may take several months for the endorsement to be completed.3
What are the benefits?
Having your license verification endorsed by another state can offer several attractive benefits for nurses. Here are some of the largest benefits.
Ease of mobility
Licensure by endorsement allows nurses to move to a new state or territory without having to retake the entire licensing examination. This streamlined process saves time and effort, making it more convenient for nurses who wish to relocate for personal or professional reasons.
With licensure by endorsement, nurses can access a broader range of career opportunities in different states. They can explore diverse healthcare settings, work with various patient populations and enter specialized nursing fields that might not be available in their home state.
Flexibility and job market accessibility
The endorsement process opens up new job markets for nurses, enabling them to respond to workforce demands in U.S. states with nursing shortages. This increased flexibility can also lead to more competitive salaries and benefits.
Professional growth and development
Exposure to different healthcare systems and practices in various states can contribute to a nurse's professional growth and development. For nurses, learning new approaches and techniques can enhance their skillset and broaden their knowledge base.
Common questions about licensure by endorsement
What is the nursing compact?
The nursing compact, also known as the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), is an agreement among certain U.S. states and territories that allows registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to have one multistate license. It enables RNs and LPNs to practice nursing in their home states as well as other participating compact states.4
Is a license by endorsement a temporary or permanent license?
Licenses by endorsement are not temporary licenses. Instead, a license obtained through endorsement is generally a permanent license as long as a nurse continues to meet the renewal requirements as set forth by the state's nursing board.
Once a nurse successfully completes the endorsement process and is granted a license in a new state, that license will remain valid for a specific period. The time period is typically one to two years, depending on the state's renewal cycle.
Should I get nursing licensure by endorsement?
The nursing profession has witnessed significant advancements and changes over the years. Licensure by endorsement has emerged as a valuable way to promote nursing mobility and enhance the quality of patient care across state borders.
By facilitating mobility and standardizing licensure requirements, licensure by endorsement supports the continuous growth and development of the nursing profession.
As healthcare needs continue to evolve, nurses with endorsed licenses will be better equipped to meet the challenges of an increasingly interconnected and dynamic healthcare landscape. These nurses can also ensure that patients receive optimal care, regardless of their location.
If you are a nurse and want to learn more information about how you can practice while moving about the country, check out our “How to Become a Travel Nurse in Florida: Mapping Out What It Takes.” It covers everything you need to know to begin your next exciting healthcare journey.
NCLEX-RN is a registered trademark of National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc
NCLEX-PN is a registered trademark of National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc
NCLEX is registered trademark of National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc
1Johnson and Johnson Company. Nursing - International Nurse. Date accessed 8/3/23. https://nursing.jnj.com/specialty/international-nurse
2Florida Legislature – Sunshine Online. Statutes and Constitution – The 2022 Florida Statutes (including 2022 Special Session A and 2023 Special Session B). Date accessed 8/3/23. https://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm
3American Traveler. Nursing License: Time Frames by State. Date accessed 8/3/23. https://www.americantraveler.com/nursing-license-time-frames-state
4National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Nurse Licensure Compact. Date accessed: 8/3/23. https://www.nursecompact.com/