What Is A Compact Nursing License and How To Apply for One

stethoscope resting on the map of the USA


Can you imagine having a nursing license in 39 states? That would be 39 applications to fill out, background checks to do, and fees to pay for. However, the better alternative is to apply for one compact license. 

If you are interested in traveling to other states in the United States and using your practical nurse skill set to help others, a compact nursing license is just what you need! Keep reading to learn more about the nurse licensure compact and what you need to do in order to apply for a multi state license!  


What is a compact nursing license? 

As a travel nurse, whether you’re in long term care nursing, ER nursing, or hold another specialty, it is not uncommon to hold several state licenses. However, there is an easier option than applying for multiple licenses. Nurses who are interested in traveling can apply for a compact nursing license. 

A compact nursing license allows for nurses to work in any of the compact states throughout the United States. You may hear the term nurse licensure compact (NLC) or eNLC or simply compact license; they can be used interchangeably. Currently, there are 39 compact implemented states in the US, with several more being added to the compact state list.


Here is a map of all the current compact States in the US 

map of current compact States in the US

How to get a compact nursing license?

Applying for a compact license is similar to applying for any single state license.

In order to apply for a compact nursing license, you must meet all of the uniform requirements for a multistate license. 

These requirements include:

  1. Your primary state of residence is in an eNLC state
  2. Graduated from an accredited nursing school, college, or university
  3. Passed an English proficiency exam
  4. Passed the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN
  5. Holds a current state license
  6. Passed a federal fingerprint-based background check
  7. Have nor convicted or found guilty of a felony 
  8. Have no misdemeanors or convictions related to nursing practice
  9. A current US citizen 

If you meet all of these criteria, then you can go to the state board of nursing website. Further requirements may vary depending on the home state that you live in. 

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How do compact nursing license states benefit nurses?

As a travel nurse, you look forward to visiting new places, working different healthcare jobs, and being able to work in any eNLC state you want. Having a compact license makes it easier for travel nurses to jump around to any compact state they want to for career opportunities. 

Here are a few reasons why a compact license can be so beneficial for nurses. 

  1. Relieves the burden of applying for and holding multiple state licenses
  2. Can be more cost-effective
  3. Processing time is shortened 
  4. Easily work in multiple states
  5. The renewal requirements are much easier



A compact nursing license makes it much easier for traveling and per diem nurses to apply their skills in multiple states. Our team of registered nurse recruiters are here to help you throughout the entire application process. If you are interested in learning more, speak with one of our recruiters to start your compact nursing license application today!

Contact A Recruiter

If a compact nursing license is not for you, check out this MAS blog on how to get a nursing license in another state


Reviewed By: 

Ashley Chancellor, RN, Nurse Recruiter: Ashley is a retired travel nurse with over eight years of travel experience and 10yrs as an ICU nurse. After working through COVID she decided to take a much needed step away from the bedside to explore other avenues and found herself on the recruiting side of things. Ashley is a transplant from Pittsburgh, PA, to Tucson, AZ, where she loves hiking, writing, traveling, fishing, cooking, and cheering other nurses on as they go after their travel dreams!



  1. https://www.ncsbn.org/nurse-licensure-compact.htm 
  2. https://nursinglicensemap.com/resources/nursing-licensure-compact/#:~:text=The%20Nurse%20Licensure%20Compact%20(NLC)%20removes%20complications%20for%20nurses%20practicing,multiple%20renewal%20requirements%20and%20fees.
  3. https://www.trustedhealth.com/compact-states/how-to-apply 
  4. https://www.americanmobile.com/nursezone/nursing-news/how-the-nurse-licensure-compact-benefits-travel-nurses/ 
  5. https://www.americanmobile.com/nursezone/nursing-news/how-to-get-a-compact-nursing-license/



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