Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact
How to Apply for a Compact State Nursing License
In order to obtain a compact nursing license and work as a nurse in a compact state, you must have proof of residence (see below) in a compact state as well as a current, active Registered Nurse License in said state. With a compact license, you can practice (physically or via telehealth) in any of the other participating compact states without needing to obtain another license (this saves tons of time and money keeping up with new state licensure and renewals).
The Primary State of Residence (PSOR) is the state (also known as the home state) in which you declare a primary residence for legal purposes. Sources used to verify your primary residence may include a driver’s license, federal income tax return, or voter registration. PSOR refers to legal residency status and does not pertain to home or property ownership. Only one state be identified as the primary state of legal residence for eNLC purposes.
Note: the upgrade from a state nursing license to a multistate nursing license does not happen automatically; you must actively apply. If your home state was part of the original NLC, and you hold a multistate license that was acquired previously, you do not have to pay a fee to transfer it to an eNLC license; a new license will be issued as long as you’re eligible.
So, with all of this in mind, how do you actually get a compact license?
How to Navigate the eNLC in One Page
- First, you must live in one of the compact states and claim it as your primary state of legal residence. It’s the state that you can prove primary residence via your driver's license, voter registration card, or federal income tax return. You can only have one primary state or residency. Homeownership does not equal residency!
- Step 1 above.
- Either graduated from a board-certified education program; or, graduated from an international education program that has been approved by the respective nation’s accrediting body.
- Passed an English proficiency/TOEFL exam (if English is not your native tongue).
- Passed the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN.
- Eligible for or holds an active license (active disciplinary actions not withstanding).
- Submitted state and federal fingerprint-based background check.
- Not convicted or found guilty of a felony.
- Have no misdemeanors or convictions related to the practice of nursing.
- Not currently a participant in an alternative program.
- Required to disclose any current participation in an alternative program.
- Has a valid United States Social Security number.
- If all of the above criteria are met, then you can go to your state board of nursing website to upgrade your license (simply follow the provided instructions for the “eNLC Upgrade Application” or “Apply for a multistate license” options. You’ll find that having confirmed (a) through (k) above will make this state virtually painless. Once your application is reviewed and accepted (typically takes three to seven business days), you will receive your eNLC license in the mail.
The official eNLC body strongly recommends that you join the Nursys e-Notify system, which will update you with any real-time changes to the eNLC system. This is particularly useful for travel nurses.
Furthermore, in terms of Continuing Education (CE) contact hours, you are beholden to the requirements in your home state, the state that issued your compact license.