• Certifications and Licenses
  • RN - Arkansas

    • Compact State
    • Participates in NURSYS
    • Renewal every 2 years

    Overview

    The Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN) had over 45,000 active licenses for registered nurses statewide in March 2022. Applications for an Arkansas nursing license must be completed online and requires education, licensure examination, and completion of state and federal criminal background checks, among other things. The ASBN was established in 1913 to safeguard the health of Arkansas’ citizens. It achieves this goal by developing standards for safe nursing care, approving schools to provide nursing education, and regulating Arkansas nursing licenses.

    About

    Graduate nurses residing within the state can apply for a single state or multistate Arkansas nursing license, while nurses licensed in another state must apply for licensure by endorsement. All applicants must submit an ASBN application through a nurse portal account and pay the respective application fee and the fee for a temporary permit, if applicable. The amount of time needed to complete the application process varies, but new applicants should apply 60 days before graduating from nursing school to ensure timely completion

    Renewal

    Arkansas RN license renewal must be completed online using a desktop computer with Internet Explorer. There’s no paper form available to complete licensure renewal. The ASBN uses a staggered biennial birth date system to renew nursing licenses. An applicant’s initial license may be valid between 3 and 27 months depending on when their birthday falls. All subsequent renewals occur every two years with expiration on the last day of the RN’s birth month.

    To renew an Arkansas nursing license, log into the Arkansas Nurse Portal to submit a renewal application. The renewal link is available in an RN’s nurse portal account 60 days before their license’s expiration date. RNs must submit a declaration of primary state of residence to confirm Arkansas is still their legal home state.

    Continuing education (CE) is required for renewal, but nurses using contact hours as their method of CE compliance are no longer required to list courses individually. Instead, they simply affirm that they’ve completed the required CE for the current renewal cycle. They also don’t need to upload any certificates of completion unless they were notified that they were selected for audit.

    Renewal fees must be paid with a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover credit card. RNs who don’t renew their licenses before the expiration date are subject to late fees. Practicing with an expired or lapsed Arkansas nursing license makes RNs illegal practitioners and subject to penalties for violating the Nurse Practice Act.

    Allow 2 to 3 business days for processing renewals. Providing false or misleading information on renewal applications could delay processing. Upon verification that all renewal requirements have been met and renewal payment has been received, the Board approves renewal.

    Continuing Education Requirements

    CE is required for Arkansas RN license renewal. However, if an initial license was valid for less than two years due to birthdate, the RN isn’t required to meet the CE requirements on the first renewal. CE requirements must be met on all subsequent renewals. 

    The most common way to meet CE requirements is through contact hours. Licensees must complete 15 practice-focused contact hours from a nationally recognized or state continuing education approval body recognized by the ASBN. Contact hours may be awarded through workshop attendance, nursing journals, home study, and Internet sources. The ASBN conducts random audits of CE requirements.

    In place of contact hours, RNs in Arkansas can complete an academic course in nursing or a related field. They may also obtain a new or renew an existing ASBN approved certification from a national certifying body.

    Requirements

    Fingerprinting Requirements

    All applicants must submit to fingerprinting for state and federal background checks unless they submitted background checks within the last 12 months to the ASBN. The ASBN doesn’t accept background checks from other agencies. Applicants pay all applicable fees for state and federal criminal background checks within the online system, which includes a $36.25 processing fee.

    Information for the Arkansas State Police criminal background checks is obtained within the online process. Applicants aren’t required to complete any additional forms for the ASBN or the State Police.

    Federal criminal background checks performed by the FBI require fingerprints and must be submitted electronically if applicants are in Arkansas. The only vendor approved to perform digital fingerprint scanning is Arkansas LiveScan. To obtain fingerprints, applicants must:

    • Take proof of payment and photo ID to the LiveScan site

    • Pay vendor an additional nonrefundable $15 fee for processing

    • Complete a Harvester Fingerprint Form with the fingerprint technician

    • Confirm the Arkansas LiveScan vendor electronically submitted scanned fingerprints to the ASBN

    Out-of-state applicants who can’t come to Arkansas to have fingerprints taken via LiveScan must use the ink-based fingerprint card method. These applicants must:

    • Use the fingerprint card mailed to them by the ASBN

    • Not bend or fold the fingerprint card

    • Legibly and accurately complete the card

    • Print the payment summary page to retrieve the INA Search ID number

    • Write the INA Search ID number in the upper right-hand corner of the card

    • Confirm that the reason for fingerprinting reads Arkansas State Board of Nursing - ACA §17-87-312

    • Obtain a 9 x 12 brown mailing envelope and the two-page Fingerprint Verification Form

    • Have fingerprints rolled by properly trained personnel at the local police or sheriff’s department

    • Mail the completed fingerprint card and Fingerprint Verification Form to the ASBN in the sealed envelope

    The ASBN usually receives these results in 4 to 6 weeks, but it may take longer. Applicants who have pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to any offense listed in ACA § 17-3-102, aren’t eligible for Arkansas RN licensure.

    Recent Arkansas Nursing License Changes/Updates 

    • Effective June 4, 2019, the souvenir plastic card depicting RN licensure is no longer available. Instead, employers can verify Arkansas nursing licenses on the ASBN Nursing License Verification Portal or Nursys.

    • Effective June 4, 2021, applicants may submit a Federal Form I-766 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-issued Employment Authorization Document in place of a valid U.S. Social Security Number. However, applying for a multistate license requires having an SSN, so nurses applying for an Arkansas RN license with Form I-766 would only qualify for a single state license.

    • Effective July 28, 2021, federal background checks from applicants in Arkansas must be submitted electronically via Arkansas LiveScan, only out-of-state applicants can utilize the ink-based fingerprint card method.

    Contact Information

    Arkansas State Board of Nursing University Tower Building 1123 South University, Suite 800 Little Rock, AR 72204 [email protected] (501) 686-2700

    Multistate

    The Arkansas Legislature passed the original NLC in 1999, and it was implemented on July 1, 2000. The Legislature then passed the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) during the 2017 General Assembly. The updated version of the NLC was implemented on January 19, 2018. Nurses with multistate licenses can cross borders, practicing in all states participating in the Compact. Local RNs who held a current Arkansas multistate license before the new NLC went into effect were grandfathered in with no further action required unless they changed their primary state of residence.

    New features of the eNLC included uniform licensing standards among Compact states. All applicants for a multistate nursing license are required to meet the same standards. As such, all new licensees must meet 11 standardized licensure requirements. They must:

    • Meet the licensure requirements of their home state

    • Graduate from a nursing education program approved by the Board of Nursing or an international education program approved by the applicable accrediting body of the country of matriculation

    • Pass the NCLEX-RN

    • Pass an English proficiency exam if English isn’t their native language

    • Hold or be eligible for an active, unencumbered license

    • Submit fingerprints for state and federal criminal background checks

    • Not have any state or federal felony convictions

    • Not have any nursing-related misdemeanor convictions

    • Have a valid U.S. Social Security number

    • Not be currently participating in an alternative program

    • Self-disclose any current participation in an alternative program

    To obtain a new multistate RN license in Arkansas, applicants must also prove the state is their permanent state of residence by providing their driver’s license, voter registration card, federal tax return, or similar legal documents with their current Arkansas address listed. RNs with a multistate license can practice physically, telephonically, or electronically in their home state and all other Compact states. However, they must follow the laws of the state in which nursing practice occurs or within the state a patient receives care when providing remote care, such as telenursing.

    Licensure by Endorsement

    Nurses who hold a license in another state can apply for an Arkansas RN license by endorsement, which begins with creating an account in the Arkansas Nurse Portal online to complete and submit an application. Applicants can also monitor their application status in their portal account. Other steps include:

    • Completing the declaration of Arkansas as their primary state of residence

    • Paying applicable licensing fee with a credit card

    • Verifying license from the original state of licensure

      • Through the Nursys website if the state participates in the online verification system

      • By mailing an ASBN Verification Form to the licensing agency in the state of licensure, which it completes and mails directly to the ASBN office

    • Verifying employment

      • RNs who haven't actively practiced nursing for more than five years must provide documentation of a completed board-approved refresher course or graduation from a board-approved nursing education program within a year of applying for the endorsement, or provide other evidence as requested

    • Submitting fingerprints for a state and federal criminal background check

    Applicants may also choose to apply for a temporary permit while awaiting permanent licensure for an additional fee. Qualified applicants with an active, unencumbered RN license from another jurisdiction may be issued a one-time temporary permit to practice nursing in Arkansas.

    Licensure by Exam

    New graduate nurses must apply for initial licensure by examination, which requires completing the ASBN’s application process and Pearson VUE’s application process to take the NCLEX-RN. Applicants must create an account in the Arkansas Nurse Portal to complete and submit their applications, which should be done about 60 days before graduating from a board-approved nursing program. Other steps include:

    • Completing the declaration of Arkansas as their primary state of residence

    • Paying applicable licensing fee with a credit card

    • Obtaining an affidavit of graduation from the nursing education program director

      • Nursing programs in Arkansas submit these electronically

      • Program directors of nursing programs outside Arkansas must complete a paper affidavit of graduation form and mail it directly to the ASBN

    • Completing Pearson VUE registration to take the NCLEX-RN

      • The ASBN must receive an official transcript directly from the applicant’s nursing program before it will release NCLEX-RN results or issue a license

    • Submitting fingerprints for state and federal criminal background checks

    Graduate nurses can request a temporary permit to practice nursing under the supervision of a registered nurse while waiting to take the NCLEX and receive results for an additional fee. Temporary permits will only be issued if the applicant has already registered with Pearson VUE and their state and federal background checks come back clear.

    Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    Arkansas nursing license applicants educated outside the U.S., its territories, or Canada can apply for licensure by examination. Foreign-educated nurses must complete the ASBN and Pearson VUE application processes simultaneously. They must also declare their state of primary residence, pay applicable fees online using a credit card, register with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX, and complete fingerprinting for state and federal background checks.

    Foreign-educated nurses also must have an original Credential Evaluation Service Full Education course-by-course report and an English Language Proficiency report sent directly to the ASBN from a Board-approved credentials verification agency. Approved agencies include:

    • The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS)

    • The Josef Silny & Associates, International Education Consultants (JS&A)

    The Board-approved credentialing agency also must submit proof of a passing score for an English Proficiency exam. Any graduates of nursing programs in Canada (except Quebec), the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand are exempt from this requirement. The ASBN accepts the:

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language’s (TOEFL) with a score of 560 on the paper exam, 220 on the computerized exam, or 83 with a minimum speaking score of 26 on the Internet-based exam 

    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module with a score of 6.5 overall and a minimum of 6.0 on individual modules

    • Pearson English Language Test (PTE) Academic module with an overall score of 55 and sub-scores of 50 or higher

    Timing

    The timeline for the application process varies based on numerous factors so there’s no set timeframe available. However, nursing school students are told to start the process 60 days before graduation to ensure timely completion. Completed applications are valid for one year from the date they’re submitted, then applicants must begin anew.

    Temporary Nurse License

    The ASBN may issue temporary permits to qualified RN endorsement applicants licensed in another state and to graduate nurses for an additional fee. New nurses can use the permit to practice under the supervision of an RN between graduation from an approved nursing program and receipt of results from the NCLEX-RN. They must be registered with Pearson VUE and have clear state and federal background checks to qualify for a temporary permit. Temporary permits are only valid for 90 days or until applicants receive their NCLEX results, whichever comes first.

    Fees

    ASBN fees for Arkansas RN licensure are nonrefundable and must be paid for online by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover during the application or renewal process. Current RN licensing and related fees include:

    • License by Examination: $100

    • License by Endorsement: $125

    • License by Examination for International Nurses: $200

    • Licensure by Endorsement for International Nurses: $125

    • Processing State and Federal Criminal Background Checks: $36.25

    • License Renewal: $100

    • Temporary Permit: $30

    • License Reinstatement (late renewal penalty): $100

    • License Verification: $30

    • Certified Copy of Records: $20

    • Duplicate License: $30

    Recent Updates

    • Effective June 4, 2019, the souvenir plastic card depicting RN licensure is no longer available. Instead, employers can verify Arkansas nursing licenses on the ASBN Nursing License Verification Portal or Nursys.

    • Effective June 4, 2021, applicants may submit a Federal Form I-766 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-issued Employment Authorization Document in place of a valid U.S. Social Security Number. However, applying for a multistate license requires having an SSN, so nurses applying for an Arkansas RN license with Form I-766 would only qualify for a single state license.

    • Effective July 28, 2021, federal background checks from applicants in Arkansas must be submitted electronically via Arkansas LiveScan, only out-of-state applicants can utilize the ink-based fingerprint card method.

    Related Jobs

    View job details for Travel Nurse RN - Pediatrics OR - Operating Room

    Travel Nurse RN - Pediatrics OR - Operating Room

    • Little Rock, AR
      • 4x12 hrs
      • Days
    Travel
    12 days ago

    $4,475/wk

    View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PICU - Pediatric Intensive Care

    Travel Nurse RN - PICU - Pediatric Intensive Care

    • Little Rock, AR
      • 5x8 hrs
      • Days
    Travel
    5 days ago

    $3,720/wk

    View job details for Travel Nurse RN - Pediatrics OR - Operating Room

    Travel Nurse RN - Pediatrics OR - Operating Room

    • Little Rock, AR
      • 4x10 hrs
      • Days
    Travel
    12 days ago

    $3,720/wk

    View job details for Travel Nurse RN - OR - Operating Room

    Travel Nurse RN - OR - Operating Room

    • Little Rock, AR
      • 4x10 hrs
      • Days
    Travel
    8 days ago

    $3,720/wk

    View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PACU - Post Anesthetic Care

    Travel Nurse RN - PACU - Post Anesthetic Care

    • Springdale, AR
      • 5x8 hrs
      • Days
    Travel

    $3,720/wk

    Frequently asked questions

    What criminal offenses do applicants have to report to the ASBN during Arkansas nurse licensing?

    Applicants must report all felony and misdemeanor convictions that occurred in Arkansas or any other state, regardless of when they occurred or if a judgment is withheld. Offenses must still be reported even if the sentence was suspended or if it’s a juvenile or sealed offense, or the offense was expunged. Applicants must also report DWIs and similar offenses, but traffic violations aren’t considered a crime.

    How do applicants challenge the results of a criminal background check obtained for an Arkansas nursing license?

    Applicants can challenge the accuracy of state and federal criminal history record information by contacting the respective agency. Challenges must be done before the license is issued or reinstated. Challenge the accuracy of a criminal background report by:

    • Sending a challenge to the agency that supplied the questionable information to the FBI

    • Sending a challenge to the FBI directly, which it forwards to the agency that supplied the questionable information and requests it to verify and correct the challenged entry

    Challenging the record at the Arkansas State Police Identification Bureau on Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    What happens when nurses are audited during Arkansas RN license renewal and they don’t have the appropriate CE hours?

    RNs are given 90 days to meet the CE requirement. If they don’t comply within 90 days, they’re charged a late fee and they receive a letter of reprimand that’s reported to a national disciplinary data bank. Subsequent occurrences of noncompliance may result in additional disciplinary action.