More states have joined the NLC — now it’s time for the big holdouts to get on board! – Nurse Recruiter

More states have joined the NLC — now it’s time for the big holdouts to get on board!

The train keeps on rolling: month after month, year after year, more and more states are joining the Nurse Licensure Compact! 

Progress seems unstoppable. An impressive roster of NLC laws has been enacted and implemented in recent years. No fewer than 36 states have now fully implemented the Compact.

NLC map update: 2021-2023

Since our last eNLC post, Ohio, New Jersey and Vermont have all implemented the NLC. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Guam and the Virgin Islands have at least enacted laws to adopt the NLC. Just last week, the state of Washington partially implemented the NLC, so nurses who hold a multistate license in other NLC states can now practice there.

For travel nurses in particular, these changes are a blessing. Applying for multiple separate state licenses can take a ridiculous amount of time and paperwork — the last thing you want after a long shift! It’s expensive too: updating your nursing licenses can easily cost you a thousand dollars every two or three years.

It’s no coincidence that the State Representative who introduced the bill in Alabama, which enacted the NLC in 2019, was a nurse herself. The lawmakers who introduced these bills and kept pushing them forward have been doing yeoman’s work for ordinary nurses.

But now it’s time for the final stretch. The few states stubbornly holding out include some of the largest of the country, like California and New York. Draft laws to adopt the NLC are languishing in the legislatures of Massachusetts, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii. Michigan has been an especially vexing case, because a bill was passed there in 2020 only to be vetoed by Gov. Whitmer, and new legislative efforts had to start from scratch.


  • March 2021: enacted and partially implemented in Guam — tentative implementation in 2023
  • July 2021: enacted in Pennsylvania
  • November 2021: implemented in New Jersey (apply now!)
  • December 2021: enacted in the Virgin Islands — tentative implementation in 2023
  • February 2022: implemented in Vermont (apply now!)
  • January 2023: implemented in Ohio (apply now!)
  • April 2023: enacted in Washington
  • July 24, 2023: partially implemented in Washington: nurses with a multistate license in other NLC states can practice in the state (apply now!)

Addressing the nursing shortage, one state at a time

At we get a front row seat to the nursing shortage and the tireless efforts of nurses to plug gaps wherever they appear. We know how many of you are willing to move halfway across the country if that’s where you’re needed, upending your lives if a job opportunity appears that matches your interests and provides the right compensation.

It has been 24 years since the Nurse Licensure Compact was first launched to make it easier for you to practice your profession in other states. And thanks to its continuous expansion, you are now able to pursue nursing job opportunities elsewhere without bureaucratic hassle… in most of the country. But let’s be honest here. The more states join the NLC, the more glaring the exceptions become!

Here’s our take. The momentum is clearly on the side of providing nurses with more freedom to work wherever they want and wherever they are needed. And when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, one of the two will have to give way. We’re deep into the 21st century, and nurses have honed their expertise to perform to their full capacity whether they work in Minnesota, Mississippi, or Massachusetts.

It’s simply not fair that nurses in states like New York face hurdles to working in other states which nurses licensed elsewhere can skip. And it’s a waste of opportunities that nurses who could help plug the nursing shortage in New York can’t do so without jumping through additional hoops.

Travel nurses collage
Travel nursing, made easier by the eNLC!

A Texas RN and Air Force spouse testified in Louisiana that she had had to wait half a year just to get her license, when she would have been able to start practically overnight in another state. That’s just not right — nor reasonable. It’s time to level the playing field!

The Covid-19 pandemic should have really hit home the point here. Politicians and nursing boards in non-compact states were left scrambling as hospitals filled up at breakneck speed, passing emergency measures to allow nurses from outside to come in. Nurses from compact states who were eager to volunteer were left waiting when every minute counted.

When disaster strikes and local nurses are overwhelmed, states which have joined the NLC can save lives more quickly. When understaffed rural hospitals struggle to find local nurses, those in compact states can adapt more swiftly. We’re stronger when we can come together!

The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) system which was introduced in 2018 addressed legitimate concerns about safety and background checks. With all respect to any apprehensions that might still exist, we say: yield to the inevitable. Address any potential downsides with accompanying legislation. Let’s get this journey, which has already taken so long, done!


  1. Making it easier to hire and work as travel nurses. There has been an explosion in demand for travel nurses, who are plugging urgent staffing gaps at short notice — and enjoying the financial perks! Every state which joins the NLC expands the pool of nurses who can take on a travel assignment with minimal hassle.
  2. Saving you time and money. No more headaches updating multiple state licenses and tracking different educational requirements. Not just useful for travel nurses! Do you live close to a state border, eager to apply for jobs or per diem assignments on the other side? Do you regularly move across the country because your spouse works in the military? Are family obligations calling you back home? The NLC eases your transition every time.
  3. Improved patient care. The more states join the NLC, the more uniform licensing requirements become, ensuring that nurses across the country meet high standards of practice. Regions with pronounced nursing shortages can recruit qualified nurses from across the country. Nurses can focus more quickly on patient care instead of burdensome paperwork.
  4. Facilitating telehealth services. Expanding the NLC allows more nurses to provide remote services across state lines without impediments.
  5. Speeding up disaster response. When, God forbid, the next pandemic or natural disaster strikes, compact state nurses can jump in to help right away.

Do you agree? Add your voice in the comments! But if you’re not so sure, we’re eager to hear from you as well. Do you practice in one of the states that are not in the NLC yet, and would you like to keep it that way? Tell us why!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Let’s face it … everything comes down to money. These hold out don’t want to let go of the revenues they collect by charging nurses to get licensed in their states.

I have had a compact license in the past. I moved home to New York and unfortunately New York is not a COM pack State. It would be very easy for me to work in the surrounding states if this could happen. I think it’s important that this happens considering what we’ve been through with Covid. Pearl

I have an Oregon license plus multi license. It makes it so much easier as a travel nurse to be able to travel to different states to work. I’m applying for the California license and been waiting for 3 months. Having the compact license makes things easier because we wouldn’t have to apply to each state and wait for months.

California needs to get on board with joining NLC. It would help the state in our struggles of short staffing, burnout and nurses leaving due to being overworked.

Yes!! I am a Florida nurse, I applied for NY in March 2023 as of today August 1th 2023 I am still waiting. I had a critical need job offer that I accepted to start in July but could not get license. I have been in contact with Florida boards and NY Boards and still dealing with red tape. In the meantime they have my money that I paid to get me license and wont return it unless I withdrawal my application. Not to mention all the fees I had to pay to get my transcripts and proof of licensing sent to MY state. I have just taken a job in Ohio that had no issues with my compact license. It’s just crazy, every nurse takes the NCLEX, we should be able to work anywhere in the US and not pay for extra licensing.

Massachusetts, please pass the NCL bill!

I live in Washington DC and am so frustrated they aren’t part of the compact! How can I take action to help DC move towards joining!?

I totally agree. All states should allow an RN to practice in any state. Patient care is the same across the board. It isn’t like we are practicing veterinary care. Especially, if you specialize in a specific area. We need good travelling nurses, and we need the flexibility and ease to practice wherever needed.

I wish all 50 states adopt compact nursing licenses. It doesn’t make sense while we have same board of nursing, to have different licensing laws. Let it be one license that works for all states that would decrease nursing shortage.

I have a California license, Texas will not allow me to bring my license into Texas. I have spoken to the B. O. N in Texas they say no! The reason is for is because I went to Nursing school in tx. I had to drop my last class of nursing school. I was in the LVN program at Galveston College in tx. So I challenge the boards in California and pass my exam, so Im an LVN. Only in California that’s why Texas will not allow me to transfer my license into Texas. I guess Texas is not a Com pack state.

I have a Pa license and would really like to see change. A compact license should be nation wide . We as nurses should have a say . Thank you for reaching out

This is great news. I’m excited and believe this will help with the nursing shortages that many states are facing. Thank you for taking a stand.

It’s imperative that nurses have the freedom to work in all states, and after the pandemic the need for nurses is painfully urgent for the communities and all age groups of citizens. Nurses shortage is alarming! All states need to get on board with joining in the compact. Times are different, people need to unite more to benefit all.

How can we do compact license for cna I think it would be beneficial as well.

Omg yessss, we need to have all states be NLC I feel. I’m a military spouse and recently just moved to New York and dealing with the process of endorsing right now. It is taking so long and I need to start working soon after not being in a job for some months now due to the move. I did just hear about the new thing that went into legislation for military spouses to get the process expedited, and I was fortunate to take advantage of that, but how long will that take?

Come on IL-get with the program. Show that you are forward thinking

I have practiced in the US for 32 years passing board exams in both Canada and US to become licensed. I have since attained both a BSN and graduate education in the US. I recently applied for licensure in Oregon after having a temp license during pandemic. They were sent a WES report from my undergrad school and they have twice refused it, wanting me to spent an additional 2-4 hundred dollars to re-evaluate Canadian nursing school courses and grades to see if they met American standards. That was again was done 23 years ago to get into university and has been a requirement of all foreign graduates for decades. It is completely ridiculous that this hold out state on an endorsement application is allowed to do this, and which can only be seen as blatantly discriminatory. I have tried to reach out to senators, congressmen and the governor not one has done anything.

Let’s get on board in Michigan! No compact, not even on the Nursys license verification website. What will it take to get Michigan to wise up??This is so detrimental to patient care. We’ll all be patients at some point in time…..

I live in California and am a 66 year old nurse of 35 years. I have been away from the bedside for 13 years. I had a great job managing high risk pregnancies telephonically, but was part of a huge lay off in my company 3 1/2 years ago. I have found it impossible to find another telephonic job as everyone wants compact licensed nurses. It doesn’t cost the companies as much money for licensing that way, not to mention the time it takes to apply for and obtain endorsement by one state at a time. This leaves us California nurses unable to obtain these jobs. This just isn’t fair on so many levels.

Oregon has to get on board with NLC. My situation is not common but a good example of why nonetheless. I graduated in the UK in 1987. I moved to CA in 1988. I worked full-time in CA until 2019. ICU 11years, ED 17 years (including 4 as Director), IR when I moved to Vancouver WA in 2020. I now am full-time in Vascular Access in WA right on the border with OR. I’m finishing up my MSN in education. My goal is to teach for my last 10 years! OR won’t take my transcripts via the CA BORN like WA did. They will only accept from “original school”. My school closed pre 2000. To work as nursing faculty in Vancouver I need both state licenses. The NLC legislation potential for OR is my only hope 🤦‍♀️