Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact

Moving Scenarios: Moving to or from a Compact State

As a Registered Nurse, you are only considered to be moving to a new state if you have the intent to stay (i.e. you are not just taking a temporary travel nursing assignment for a few months). Moving means you are changing your primary state of residency. This is also true for nursing compact states (all eNLC/NLC states).

If you are moving to a new state and changing your primary state of residence, there is no amount of time or grace period indicated by the State Boards of Nursing to apply for a license by endorsement in the new state. You must declare the new state as your primary state of residence and then apply for licensure by endorsement.

As explained below under "moving scenarios," note that even if you are moving from one compact state to another, you'll still need to apply for endorsement to update to compact nursing license.

You don’t have to have a permanent address in that state in order to do so. Every employer has an allotted time in which nurses are required to apply so that they are compliant. Employers are required to have nurses that are appropriately licensed working for them.

Most common moving scenarios:

Moving from non-compact to compact state…
Moving from compact to non-compact state…
Moving from one compact state to another compact state…
(International) Moving to a compact state from another country...

Two additional moving scenarios:

If you commute across state lines for work…

For example, if you live in Kansas City, KS and choose to commute to work in Kansas City, MO, you’d have to hold a nursing license from Kansas state, as that is your primary state of residence. In other words, given this example, state of residence supersedes state of work.

If you are a military spouse…

If you are a military spouse and maintain a primary state of residence in a compact state, and your spouse is stationed in another compact state, you can practice in the second compact state for the length of time your spouse is stationed there (without applying for a compact license in the second state). However, if you obtain a driver’s license or register to vote in the second state, you will need to also acquire a multistate license in this state.

Moving isn’t easy, but if you’re looking to get the most out of your nursing career—particularly in terms of nursing salaries or job opportunities—it may be the most strategic thing you can do. As we’ve mentioned, there are a slew of benefits to living (having your primary state of residence located) in a compact state. 

Even if you’re not currently a travel nurse or don’t think you’ll ever become one, knowing that the flexibility is there, if and when you need it, is a huge win in and of itself. As we’ve witnessed throughout the recent pandemic, you never know when you’ll be needed (or choose to go) across state lines.

Hopefully over time, more states will join, and a large lifestyle change or effort won’t be necessary to receive the benefits of living in a compact state.

Continue on to view the most frequently asked questions surrounding compact nursing licensure.

Nursing Compact States

Additional Resources

For more information on the Nurse Licensure Compact, and how to navigate it for yourself, see the additional resources below!