Updated: Why You Should Consider Getting a Compact State License as a Travel Nurse in 2019

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
July 12, 2019
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The Nurse Licensure Compact, or NLC, was originally created to provide nurses with the ability to practice in multiple states. It is an agreement between states that allows nurses with one state license to practice in other states that are part of the agreement. Travel nurses and nurses who provide telemedicine and e-medicine services all benefited from the original NLC, now having the ability to practice in 30 different states without applying for a new license in each state.

Recently, the NLC was revised and enhanced and the eNLC was born (click here to learn more about the enhanced NLC, or eNLC). In order to obtain a compact multi-state license, the nurse’s primary residence must be in a compact state. To determine if you live in a compact state, check out the map below to view all current compact states.

Current Compact License States:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. Colorado
  4. Delaware
  5. Florida
  6. Georgia
  7. Idaho
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas (as of 7/1/19)
  10. Kentucky
  11. Louisiana (as of 7/1/19)
  12. Maine
  13. Maryland
  14. Mississippi
  15. Missouri
  16. Montana
  17. New Hampshire
  18. New Mexico
  19. Nebraska
  20. North Carolina
  21. North Dakota
  22. Rhode Island
  23. South Carolina
  24. South Dakota
  25. Tennessee
  26. Texas
  27. Utah
  28. Virginia
  29. West Virginia
  30. Wisconsin

States with eNLC Enacted, Awaiting Implementation

  1. Alabama (as of 1/1/20)
  2. Indiana

States with Pending eNLC Legislation

  1. Michigan
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. New Jersey
  4. Connecticut


One of the greatest draws of nursing is the stability of the profession; there will always be patients who need nurses. A compact nursing license provides the holder the ability to move to where the jobs are available with minimal hassle; they can start working and earning money nearly immediately.

Frequently, new nurses want to get a year or two of experience before they embark on the travel nursing journey. Holding a license in a compact state helps to facilitate this journey (assuming the desired destination is in another compact state, of course).

There are numerous other benefits to having a compact nursing license:

  • Flexibility for location and increased options for travel nursing assignments
  • Allows nurses who practice telehealth to meet with patients across the U.S.
  • Eliminates red tape that comes with becoming licensed in a new state
  • Increases the number of nurses who can provide quality care to patients in many states


In order to obtain a nursing compact multi-state license, your primary residence must be in a compact state. If you are licensed & live in one of the states on the NLC map, congratulations! You already have a compact license and are eligible to work in any other compact state.

However, if you do not live in a compact state, you will have to either continue obtaining a new license in each state you want to work as you go along, or you can move your primary residence to a compact state. If you are planning to move to a compact state, you should immediately start the process to apply for a license in the compact state. This will be a single-state license until you establish residency in the compact state.

Here are the complete requirements for acquiring a compact nursing license:

National Council of State Boards of Nursing Uniform Requirements for eNLC Licensure

  • Meets the requirements for licensure in the home state (state of residency)
  • Has graduated from a board-approved education program; or Has graduated from an international education program (approved by the authorized accrediting body in the applicable country and verified by an independent credentials review agency)
  • Has passed an English proficiency examination (applies to graduates of an international education program not taught in English or if English is not the individual’s native language)
  • Has passed an NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN® Examination or predecessor exam
  • Is eligible for or holds an active, unencumbered license (i.e., without active discipline)
  • Has submitted to state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks
  • Has no state or federal felony convictions
  • Has no misdemeanor convictions related to the practice of nursing (determined on a case-by-case basis)
  • Is not currently a participant in an alternative program
  • Is required to self-disclose current participation in an alternative program
  • Has a valid United States Social Security number


The NCSBN has a comprehensive FAQ on the NLC that answers many common questions nurses may have. If you have more questions about compact state nursing licenses, or simply want to learn more about travel nursing, reach out to us today.

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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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