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What are the compact nursing license states?

Update: Indiana is the latest state to enact the eNLC! Legislation is pending in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Vermont! New Jersey is still only partially implementing the eNLC legislation as the state reviews its effectiveness. 

Now, more than ever, the eNLC stands to have a huge impact on the way nurses can practice across state lines. As COVID continues to spread through our nation’s hospitals, it is much easier for RNs with a compact license to aid in out-of-state crises. 

In accordance with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)– a nurse that has a compact license can practice in any other compact license state without obtaining an additional license.

This map is taken from the NCSBN website and is an easy to read key for states in the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC).

The most common question is What are the compact license states?

The below 33 states have enacted the nurse licensure compact as of July 1, 2020:
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming



Understanding Compact License Rules as a Travel Nurse

There are some guidelines to the eNLC that are important to know!

  1. You cannot hold a compact license if your primary state of residence is not in the compact. For example- my home state is New York. When I apply for Colorado I have to apply for a single state license. This does not mean that I now have a ‘compact license’ because Colorado is in the eNLC. For my next assignment, if I choose to go to another compact state I will have to again apply for a single license- I cannot use the Colorado license as a compact license.
  2. You must continue to maintain your home state licensure in order to continue working in eNLC states as you travel. If you lose your active licensure status in your primary state of residence, you will be required to obtain a single state licensure in this state. I don’t recommend letting a compact license lapse- it is much easier to just maintain an active status.
  3.  Your license must be un-encumbered and have unrestricted practice. If you have a record with a DUI or other infringement, you may not be able to get a compact license. In this case, you would get a single state license in each state that you want to practice as a travel nurse.

As a travel nurse it is much easier and much less paperwork to have a compact license. But, again, you can only apply for a compact license if your HOME state is part of the eNLC. If you do not live in a state where the eNLC is enacted, that just means you will have to apply for single state licenses in the states that you wish to work as a travel nurse. Make sure to apply for those licenses well in advance of applying for an out-of-state travel nurse job. 

Read our full article on travel nursing and best practices for licensure!


Rachel Norton BSN, RN

I have been a critical care nurse since 2007. I grew up in the northeast but enjoy every corner of the country. My passions are people and travel. Travel nursing allows me to meet amazing people and satisfy my wanderlust. I love inspiring other nurses to travel and expand their practice.

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