Changes in California Nursing Licensing Regulations Will Greatly Impact Travel Nurses

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
February 1, 2022
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Beginning March 31, 2022, travel nurses who are currently working or planning to work in California will no longer be permitted to do so without taking further action. When COVID-19 started in March 2020, the Emergency Medical Service Authority (EMSA) enacted policies that approved nurses to practice on out-of-state licenses in good standing without requiring a California state license. Prior to this, nurses were not permitted to work based on reciprocity.  

All Travelers Will Be Affected

Out-of-state nurses will no longer automatically be approved to practice in California facilities. The California State Board of Nursing (BRN) is encouraging nurses to apply for Licensure by Endorsement as quickly as possible in order to continue practicing. 

So if you plan to work in California in the next several months, you will want to take action. This may turn into an extended process and delays could lead you to lose your job or slow down your chances of securing assignments in the state. 

What Does It All Mean?

Moving forward, California will not honor reciprocity for other states as it has for the last two years. In addition to affecting nurses, this will impact any provider who does not have a California state license prior to April 1st. To obtain a new license, nurses can apply for endorsement as mentioned above. However, there are certain stipulations and it may take several weeks for the application process to go through. 

Nurses who will not receive new licensure by the March 31 deadline can apply for temporary licensure after completing the licensure by endorsement application. This gives out-of-state nurses an additional six months of coverage to continue working. In order to successfully receive licensure by endorsement, nurses are required to have:

  • A current license in another state or Canada
  • Completed a nursing program that meets all of the California requirements
  • Passed the NCLEX or appropriate Canadian exam

Steps to Making It Happen

There are many benefits to travel nursing in California, including beautiful sights, amazing cities, sunny weather, beaches, and high-paying contracts. If you are looking at continuing or starting work in California, the BRN suggests applying for the licensure by endorsement as soon as possible. It can take up to 90 days to process but may be delayed due to the potential influx of applicants. 

Next, apply for a temporary license so you can continue working while you wait. You will receive your license right away and it lasts for six months. This will ensure that you have a buffer while waiting for the BRN to process your application. Also, be aware that the application process for out-of-state nurses does require a fingerprint card.    

Final Factors to Keep In Mind 

If you haven’t already, be sure to talk to your travel agency and healthcare facility about how this change will affect you and your position. It will result in staffing changes, so it’s important to know where you stand. 

Additionally, speak with your agency about the application process. Some agencies help cover the cost of fees, which may be helpful. Each application comes with a different fee: 

  • Registered Nurse Endorsement Application (RN from Another State, District, or U.S. Territory) - $350 
  • Registered Nurse Endorsement Application - International RN - $750
  • Temporary RN License - $100
  • Fingerprint Card - $49
  • Fees for other Nursing Licenses can be found at the California Board of Registered Nursing website

Remember: if you’re running short on time, you will likely need to pay for both the endorsement application and the temporary license to prevent a lapse. Those fees will add up! You can apply online through BreEZe Online Services


Brandy Hall is a Nurse Writer who established The Writing RN to create meaningful content for health and wellness practitioners and their patients. Brandy is a mom of two girls ages 13 and 2, plus two cats, a military spouse, and a stepmom of two, who loves traveling, food, and fitness.

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