The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) began on January 19, 2018, but most nurses simply refer to it as the Compact. Under the eNLC, registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/LVNs) living in states that have joined the Compact can apply for one multistate license and practice in person or via telehealth in any state that’s also part of the Compact. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), 41 U.S. states or territories have enacted legislation to join the eNLC as of October 2023.
Which States Are in the eNLC?
A total of 41 states or U.S. territories have passed legislation to enact the NLC as of October 2023. However, only 36 states have fully implemented the NLC. The remaining 5 jurisdictions have enacted the NLC but haven’t fully implemented it. Nurse graduates and current RNs or LPN/LVNs must apply with the State Board of Nursing in their primary state of residence (PSOR) to obtain a Compact license, also called a multistate license. Nurses who obtain or already have a multistate license can practice in any of the following 36 states that have fully implemented the NLC on a single license. Nursing compact states currently include:
Source: NCSBN (10/13/2023)
Of the remaining jurisdictions, two states and one U.S. territory have enacted legislation to join the Compact and partially implemented the NLC. One other state and one additional U.S. territory have enacted legislation to join the Compact but are awaiting implementation. These states and territories include:
- Guam: The governor of Guam signed the NLC into law on 3/5/2021, making it the first U.S. territory to enact the NLC. The territory partially implemented the NLC allowing nurses with multistate licenses from any Compact state to practice in Guam. However, nurses residing in Guam can’t obtain a multistate license until it fully implements the NLC. Full implementation was tentatively scheduled to occur in 2022. As of October 2023, Guam remains listed as partially implemented with an implementation unknown at that time. The Guam Board of Nurse Examiners will post or publicize this date when it becomes available.
- Pennsylvania: The governor of Pennsylvania signed the NLC into law on 7/1/2021 to begin the process of adding the state to the Compact, but full implementation has yet to occur. Nurses holding an active, unencumbered multistate license from another state were allowed to begin practicing in the state on September 5, 2023. Also, if they held a single-state Pennsylvania license, they no longer needed to renew it. However, RNs or LPN/LVNs who reside in Pennsylvania can’t apply for a multistate nursing license until the state completes the implementation process and full implementation occurs. An implementation date is currently unknown but will be posted on the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing site when this date becomes available.
- Rhode Island: The governor of Rhode Island signed the NLC into law on 6/24/2023 to begin the process of adding the state to the Compact, but full implementation hasn’t occurred yet. Nurses holding a multistate license can’t practice in Rhode Island without applying for licensure by endorsement until full implementation occurs. RNs and LPN/LVNs who reside in Rhode Island also can’t apply for a multistate nursing license until the state completes the implementation process and full implementation occurs. Rhode Island was part of the original NLC but didn’t take steps to join the eNLC. The state exited the Compact on 1/19/2018 and has made several attempts to rejoin until finally passing a bill to return to the Compact in 2023, making it the 41st jurisdiction to join. Rhode Island has tentatively planned to fully implement the NLC in January 2024.
- U.S. Virgin Islands: The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands signed the NLC into law on 12/6/2021. It’s currently awaiting implementation of criminal background checks through the FBI and the USVI Board of Nurse Licensure (VIBNL) hasn’t announced an implementation date at this time. Until then, nurses holding a multistate license can’t practice in the U.S. Virgin Islands without obtaining an endorsement through the VIBNL. Plus, nurses residing in the U.S. Virgin Islands can’t apply for multistate licenses until full implementation goes into effect. VIBNL will post or publicize an implementation date when one becomes available.
- Washington: The governor of Washington State signed the NLC into law on 4/21/2023, making it the 40th jurisdiction to join the Compact. As part of the legislation to join the NLC, the Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission changed its name to the Washington State Board of Nursing (WABON). The Board began addressing the steps to implement the NLC in May 2023. WABON announced a two-phase NLC implementation plan. It completed Phase 1, allowing nurses holding an active, unencumbered multistate license from another NLC state to practice in Washington as of 7/24/2023. Phase 2 is currently in the rulemaking process but WABON anticipates being able to offer and issue multistate licenses to RNs and LPN/LVNs residing in the state by early 2024.
States with Pending Legislation
Seven states currently have pending legislation that could allow them to join the Compact. However, similar legislation has previously been introduced in each of these states and didn’t pass, so there’s a chance that the pending legislation will also fail. However, as of October 2023, the following seven states and Washington, D.C. had legislation in play:
- Alaska: Senate Bill 130 was introduced on 4/17/2023 and referred to the Labor and Commerce Committee on 5/3/2023 and House Bill 149 was introduced on 3/31/2023 and referred to the Labor and Commerce Committee on 4/28/2023. Previously, Senate Bill 67 and House Bill 83 stalled during a third special session held in September 2021, then fizzled out during the 2022 session.
- Hawaii: House Bill 667 was introduced on 1/23/2023 and referred to the House Committees on Labor & Government Operations, Health & Homelessness and Consumer Protection & Commerce on 1/27/2023, and the companion Senate Bill 670 was introduced on 1/23/203 and referred to the Senate Committees on Health & Human Services and Commerce & Consumer Protection on 1/25/2023.
- Illinois: House Bill 1622 was introduced on 2/1/2023 and re-referred to the Rules Committee on 3/10/2023, with a Chief Co-Sponsor added on 3/24/2023 and two new Co-Sponsors added on 8/18/2023. The corresponding Senate Bill 0041 was introduced on 1/20/2023 and referred to the Assignments Committee on 1/20/2023 and assigned to the Licensed Activities Committee on 1/31/2023, where it was postponed on 2/23/2023 and 3/9/2023, then re-referred to the Assignments Committee on 3/31/2023. Previously, House Bill 4269 and House Bill 4531 both dealt with ratifying and approving the NLC to allow for the issuance of multistate licenses during the 2022 General Assembly session; both bills failed to pass and died on 1/10/2023 when the session closed.
- Massachusetts: House Bill 1251 relating to Massachusetts joining the Nurse Licensure Compact was filed on 1/14/2023 and referred to the Committee on Health Care Financing on 2/16/2023, as was Senate Bill 747. On a completely opposite trajectory, Senate Bill 795 (filed on 1/13/2023) and House Bill 1193 (filed on 1/18/2023) relating to maintaining independent authority over nurse licensure in the commonwealth were also both referred to the Committee on Health Care Financing on 2/16/2023. Previously, House Bill 1284 was introduced on 2/16/2021 and died on 1/3/2023 and Senate Bill 163 was introduced on 2/4/2021 and died on 1/3/2023
- Michigan: House Bill 4935 was introduced on 8/24/2023 and referred to the Committee on Health Policy where it remained as of October 13, 2023. During the 2021-2022 session, House Bill 4046 was introduced on 1/27/2021. However, HB 4046 was actually a re-introduced bill identical to House Bill 4042 introduced in 2020, which passed both chambers of the Michigan Legislature and was sent to the governor who vetoed it on December 30, 2020.
- Minnesota: House File 1005 was introduced on 1/30/2/03 and referred to the Health Finance and Policy Committee and the companion Senate File 3281 was introduced on 4/19/2023 and referred to the Health and Human Services Committee. Previously, Senate File 2302 and House File 2184 introduced an act that would allow the creation of the NLC in March 2021. After a lengthy stall, it passed the Senate on 3/7/2022 and went to the House, where the first reading and referral to the Health Finance and Policy Committee took place, but the bill ultimately died on 5/23/2022.
- New York: Assembly Bill 3391 introduced on 2/2/2023 would enact the medical licensure compact and the nurse licensure compact, and is the new version of the last session’s Assembly Bill A10559. The latest bill was active and with the Assembly Higher Education Committee as of 10/13/2023. Senate Bill 6873 introduced on 5/12/2023 would adopt the interstate nurse licensure compact and the advanced practice registered nurse compact, similar to last session’s Senate Bill S9236. The current bill was active and with the Senate Higher Education Committee as of 10/13/2023. Various versions of these bills have been introduced every session since 2009.
- Washington, D.C.: Bill 25-430 (District of Columbia Nurse Licensure Compact Authorization Act of 2023) was introduced on 7/13/2023 and referred to the Committee on Committee of the Whole on 9/19/2023, with comments from the Committee on Health, then re-referred to the Committee on Health. The re-referral was published on 9/22/2023. Previously, the District of Columbia was hesitant to adopt the NLC due to fears of losing much of its licensure fees, but the acute nursing shortage in the District, poor patient outcomes and the large number of states already part of Compact have prompted a change of heart among some Council Members.
Where Do the Rest of the States and Territories Stand?
Some states hesitate to join the NLC because it could lead to budget gaps for its nursing board, especially if it’s self-funded. These gaps might occur because out-of-state nurses currently paying for a single state license to practice in the non-compact state could utilize their compact license if the state joined the NLC. Some states could potentially lose the funds from 1,000s of licenses issued to non-resident nurses. There are also concerns over the cost of joining the compact and the potentially high cost of implementing necessary technology changes. However, the number of states still holding out has significantly dwindled.
As of October 2023, only four states and two U.S. territories didn’t have any pending legislation regarding the NLC, though they’ve each previously tried to pass legislation:
- California: Assembly Bill No. 410 was introduced on 2/3/2021 and died on 1/31/2022. No new legislation is currently pending.
- Connecticut: The governor signed House Bill 6449 on 7/12/2021 requiring the Department of Public Health Commissioner to convene working groups to determine whether the state should join an interstate licensure compact and to report their recommendations by January 15, 2022. No further action has been taken and no legislation to implement the NLC is currently pending.
- Nevada: Assembly Bill 108 was introduced on 2/3/2023 and referred to the Committee on Commerce and Labor. The primary sponsor was the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor, which held a hearing on 4/7/2023 where it heard testimony in support of and opposition to adopting the NLC. Public opinion as of May 2023, was 74% for and 25% against. However, no further action is allowed on this bill and nothing new has been introduced as of October 13, 2023.
- Oregon: House Bill 2408 was introduced on 1/9/2023 and referred to the Behavioral Health and Health Care Committee on 1/11/2023, which held a public hearing on 2/20/2023 to hear testimony. On 5/9 and 5/17 the motion to withdraw from the Behavioral Health and Health Care Committee failed. House Bill 2748 was introduced on 1/9/2023 and referred to the Behavioral Health and Health Care Committee on 1/13/2023. As of May 2023, both bills remained in committee upon adjournment on 6/25 and no new legislation is pending.
- American Samoa: Nothing pending
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Nothing pending
Note: Unlike the other U.S. territories, Puerto Rico is only an associate member of the NCSBN and isn’t an NLC jurisdiction. Thus, it can’t join the Compact.
How Do Nurses Qualify for a Compact License?
Eligibility for a compact license begins with living in a Compact state, and according to the NCSBN, more than 2 million nurses do. You can’t apply for a multistate license if your declared PSOR isn’t part of the eNLC. Your PSOR is where you have legal resident status, which is the state where you obtain your driver’s license, register to vote and pay income taxes.
Meeting the requirements for licensure in your home state is one of the 11 uniform licensure requirements of obtaining a compact license. Other requirements include graduating from a board-approved education program, passing the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN and passing an English proficiency exam if your nursing program didn’t teach classes and use books in the English language.
You must also be eligible for or have an unencumbered nursing license, submit state and federal background checks and have a valid Social Security number. You can’t have any felony convictions or any nursing-related misdemeanor convictions, and you can’t be currently participating in an alternative program. RNs and LPN/LVNs who don’t meet the uniform licensure requirements may still be eligible for a single-state license, depending on their state’s rules.
Licensure In Compact and Non-Compact States
If your PSOR is a non-compact state, you must apply for a single-state license. Travel nurses with a single-state license must apply for licensure by endorsement if they take a temporary job in another state. If you receive licensure by endorsement in a state that’s part of the eNLC, your endorsement is still only valid in that state. You can’t use an endorsement from a Compact state as a multistate license even though an eNLC state issued it because it’s not your PSOR. You can’t apply for a multistate license in a state that’s not your PSOR, but you can have as many single-state licenses as you want.
If you hold a multistate license and you’re taking a temporary job in a non-compact state, you must apply for licensure by endorsement to the non-compact state’s board of nursing. You receive a single-state license that’s good to practice in that state only. Your multistate license remains valid and usable in any other compact state as long as you keep it current and don’t do anything to inadvertently change your residency status, such as renewing your driver’s license in a state that’s not your PSOR.
What About the APRN Compact?
Source: NCSBN (10/13/2023)
Advanced practice nurses may have the same ability to travel between states like RNs and LPN/LVNs someday, but the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact has gotten off to an extremely slow start and now seems to be going backward regarding support. Without the APRN Compact, certified nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives and certified registered nurse anesthetists must hold individual licenses in every state where they practice.
The NCSBN developed a model for states to enact the APRN, adopted on August 12, 2020, that works similarly to the eNLC. However, the APRN Compact can’t be implemented until seven states have enacted legislation. As of October 2023, only these three states have adopted the APRN Compact:
- North Dakota (adopted on 8/12/2020)
- Delaware (signed into law on 8/4/2021
- Utah (signed into law on 3/24/2022)
Although seven states had pending legislation in May 2023 in an attempt to adopt the APRN Compact, that legislation failed. Those states included:
- Arizona (SB1334)
- Hawaii (SB321)
- Kentucky (HB108) (Withdrawn on 2/9/2023)
- Maryland (HB475 / SB439)
- Montana (HB409)
- New York (SB6873)
- Texas (HB4404)
As of October 2023, no states have any pending legislation to join the APRN Compact.
Benefits of the Nurse Licensure Compact
The eNLC creates the possibility for an increased workforce, enables the continuation of patient care across state lines and resolves telehealth issues. It allows nurses to work in multiple states with one license, promoting greater nurse mobility. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this mobility greatly benefited states needing additional bedside nurses.
Nurses benefit from having more freedom to move around without the expense of paying for separate licenses, making it easier for them to go where they’re needed most. In the event of catastrophic natural or manmade disasters or public health crises, nurses from multiple states can quickly and efficiently respond.
It’s also beneficial to state nursing boards because they can more easily share information, including complaints and investigations. Multistate licensing also reduces the administrative tasks of licensing traveling nurses, making it quicker and easier to take on new nurses who already hold a multistate license.
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