How to Get a California RN License if You’re Already Licensed in Another State in 2019

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
June 21, 2019
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A California travel nurse job is, understandably, atop the professional wish list of many RNs. California is a massive state with many travel nursing positions that offer great pay, world-class cities, and plenty of natural wonders. However, obtaining a California nursing license takes a bit of extra time and effort.

Here are the steps to apply for California licensure by endorsement if you already hold a nursing license in another state. We’ll include time estimates for each of the steps as well, so you can accurately understand how long this process will take and plan your next California nursing assignment accordingly.

Fill Out an Application

The application for California endorsement may be completed online or in paper form to be mailed to the California Board of Registered Nursing (CBRN). If enough fees are paid (an extra $100), the BON will issue a temporary license while you’re waiting for a permanent license after submitting your application.

If you’re applying online, you’ll need to make an account with California’s BreEZe account. Click here to create your account and begin the application process. To learn more about the online application itself, click here for an overview of what the online application entails.

Estimated Time: Less than 1 hour to complete your profile, but your application cannot be submitted until you have completed all the other steps.

Complete Fingerprints and Payment

Those already in California or close enough to visit a LiveScan center in California may opt to complete their fingerprints at a center and pay fees there.

Nurses outside of California can request that fingerprint cards be mailed to them. Click here to access the fingerprint request site. The California Board of Nursing recommends that you bring your fingerprint cards to a law enforcement agency (who may charge a fee) to have them collected using black ink only. You’ll need to mail your fingerprints with a check or money order for $49.00 payable to the Board of Registered Nursing.

However, due to recent nursing shortages and high demand for nurses in California, many nurses are experiencing delays when using physical fingerprint cards. If you are in a rush to get your California license, traveling to California and visiting a LiveScan center is your best bet to get your license quickly.

If you plan on traveling to California to complete your fingerprints with LiveScan, click here to access the LiveScan form.

Estimated Time: LiveScan centers can process fingerprints within 48 to 72 hours. For fingerprint cards, the California Bureau of Nursing quotes “6-8 weeks from the time they receive your completed packet to issue your license.” However, nurses are reporting wait times as long as 6 months due to increased demand for California licenses recently.

Submit a 2-Inch by 2-Inch Passport Photo

If you’re filling out the online application, there is an option to attach a photo file to it. If you’re going the paper application route, mail your photo to the Board of Nursing along with your application. You can easily have these photos taken at pharmacy stores including Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid.

Estimated Time: One hour or less to have your photo taken and printed.

Verify Your Nursing License

The Board of Nursing needs to verify that you do indeed have a nursing license in another state if you’re applying for endorsement. Many states use the Nursys verification site, which charges a fee: you can access it by clicking here.

If your state doesn’t participate in Nursys, you’ll need to fill out a license verification form provided by your state’s BON and state that you want verification sent to the California BON.

Estimated Time: Using Nursys, verification should take an hour or less. If you live in a state that does not offer Nursys, you should contact your state Board of Nursing. Timings will vary depending on where you are located.

Request Your Transcripts

You’ll need to fill out transcript request forms from the nursing school(s) you attended. Transcripts need to be sent directly from the school to the California BON.

Estimated Time: Two weeks or less to receive transcripts from the university that you obtained your nursing degree from.

Letters or Documents for Discipline or Convictions

If you’ve ever had any criminal convictions or disciplinary action on your nursing license, you’ll need to send the California BON letters of explanation, and details about rehabilitation.

Estimated Time: Varies depending on your circumstances, as these are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Pay Fees

California charges a $350 application fee, and an additional $100 fee if you’d like to apply for a temporary license. If you’re applying online, you’ll have the option to pay your application fee online. If filling out the paper application, you’ll need to mail a check or money order to the Board of Registered Nursing.

When considering if you should get a temporary license, it’s important to keep in mind that the CBRN needs all your documentation EXCEPT your college transcripts to issue a temporary license. This means that if you go the manual fingerprinting route, and you’ve sent in all your paperwork together, the transcripts will be processed weeks before the CBRN finishes processing the manual fingerprints. Due to this, a temporary license is a better choice for nurses who go to California in person and have access to a LiveScan center, since the fingerprints will be processed much faster.

Estimated Time: Instant

California Travel Nurse Jobs

Applying for California nursing license endorsement takes a bit more legwork than many other states, but the rewards are great—you can take your lifesaving abilities to the beautiful Golden State!        


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand

Find the Travel Job that’s Right for You

Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

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