• Certifications and Licenses
  • RN - Colorado

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


    The Colorado Board of Nursing (BON) is part of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO). It’s responsible for enforcing the rules and statutes implemented by the Colorado Nurse Practice Act. The Board oversees more than 110,000 licensees, including more than 82,600 registered nurses. Its oversight includes Colorado nursing license education, the entire nurse licensing process, and Colorado RN license renewal.


    Applicants can become a licensed RN in Colorado by examination or endorsement. For those who don’t hold a license in another state or U.S. territory but have completed a Board-approved professional nursing education program should apply for licensure by exam. To apply through endorsement, applicants must already be licensed as an RN in another state or U.S. territory. All applicants, whether they’re applying for licensure by exam or endorsement, must:

    • Complete an application for Licensure by Endorsement/Exam online

    • Provide a valid U.S. Social Security Number

    • Complete the Affidavit of Eligibility

    • Declare Colorado as their primary state of residence

    • Upload name change documentation, if applicable

    • Submit fingerprints for state and federal background checks

    • Answer general and criminal history screening questions and upload supporting documentation, if applicable

    • Complete the Healthcare Professions Profile and upload supporting documentation, if applicable

    • Submit payment of required application fees

    Colorado guidelines mandate that all applications expire one year from the date they’re submitted. Applicants who fail to provide all required documentation to complete their application within this time frame will have their applications expire. Once an application expires, the applicant must file a new one and pay a new application fee.


    Colorado nurse licenses must be renewed every two years. All RN licenses expire on September 30th. Depending on when the BON issued the license, expiration could occur in either an odd-numbered or even-numbered year. If a new applicant’s nursing license is issued within 120 days of an upcoming renewal expiration date, they will be issued a license with the subsequent expiration date. Once the first renewal date is set, the license must be renewed every two years from that date. Online license renewal doesn’t open until approximately 4 to 6 weeks before September 30th annually.

    Continuing Education Requirements

    The Colorado BON is authorized to require up to 20 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years as part of the Colorado RN license renewal process. To assure that the CE requirements don’t restrain competition among education providers, the BON shall recognize various alternative means of compliance with the requirements.


    Colorado’s governor signed Senate Bill 18-027 on January 18, 2018, to join the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). As a member of the Compact, the Colorado BON now requires all Colorado nursing license applicants to obtain a fingerprint background check as part of the licensing process. Under the multistate licensure privilege, registered nurses holding a multistate license in another Compact state aren’t required to obtain a Colorado license to practice. However, RNs with a single state license from another state must apply for licensure by endorsement to practice in Colorado. Graduate nurses not previously licensed must have completed a Board-approved associate degree or baccalaureate degree nursing program as part of the process to obtain a Colorado RN license.

    Fingerprinting Requirements

    All applicants for a Colorado RN license by exam or endorsement must submit fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct state and national fingerprint-based criminal history record checks against CBI and FBI records. The CBI requires electronic fingerprint processing and transmission through the Colorado Applicant Background Services (CABS) program. The CBI has approved two vendors to provide this service.

    For in-state applicants:

    • IdentoGO Fingerprint Services schedules in-person appointments for fingerprinting on its website. Applicants can also learn which identification document(s) to bring with them to their appointments and locate nearby fingerprinting centers on this site. Results usually average less than 24 hours.

    • Colorado Fingerprinting powered by American BioIdentity uses LiveScan for fingerprint processing. Applicants create an account, choose a location and appointment time, complete the online fingerprinting request form, and select their method of payment. They must bring appropriate identification to their appointment. Results are returned within 24 to 72 hours.

    For out-of-state applicants:

    Cardscan for IdentoGO is available for applicants outside of Colorado or physically unable to come to an IdentoGO location. Applicants must:

    • Pre-enroll for Cardscan submission and pay processing fees

    • Print and sign the pre-enrollment confirmation page provided after completion of registration

    • Have fingerprints rolled on an FBI FD-258 fingerprint card and complete personal information

    • Mail pre-enrollment confirmation page and completed fingerprint card to the address provided

    Colorado Fingerprinting for CABS requires applicants outside of Colorado to:

    • Register online and select “Out-of-State Applicant”

    • Pay online or select business check or money order

    • Find and mark the reason for their background check from a list provided

    • Select vendor of choice

    • Create an appointment for fingerprinting (additional fee)

    • Print instructions for sending the fingerprint card for processing

    The DPO must receive the results of state and federal background checks before the Colorado BON can issue a nursing license. The fee to perform a state and federal criminal history record search through the CABS program is $39.50.

    Contact Information

    Colorado Board of Nursing Division of Professions and Occupations 1560 Broadway, Suite 1350 Denver, CO 80202 [email protected] (303) 894-7800


    Applicants aren’t given a choice as to whether they apply for a multistate license or a single state license. The multistate license is Colorado’s default license, so all applications are processed according to Compact requirements. When applying for a multistate nursing license, candidates must meet the uniform licensure requirements in their primary state of residence and self-disclose if they’re part of an alternative program. They also must not:

    • Be under discipline or restriction

    • Be currently enrolled in an alternative program

    • Have state or federal felony convictions

    • Have misdemeanors related to the practice of nursing

    If an applicant doesn’t qualify for a multistate license, the Colorado BON may consider issuing them a single state license. Both the multistate and single state licenses cost the same and require a background check. Unless they plan to change their permanent residency to Colorado, RNs who have an active multistate license in another state aren’t required to apply for licensure in Colorado.

    Licensure by Endorsement

    In addition to the requirements of all applicants listed above, RNs holding a single state license in another state and applying for Colorado licensure by endorsement also must provide:

    • the date(s) of their initial licensing exam

    • verification of all licenses they’ve held

    To verify RN licensure in another state, applicants for a Colorado nursing license by endorsement can complete the Nursys verification process if they’re licensed in a state that participates in this program. There’s a fee for this process. If the licensing state doesn’t participate in Nursys, applicants must contact their state Board of Nursing to obtain verification instructions. However, they must submit an official Verification of License form to the Colorado BON.

    If an applicant’s RN license from another state is currently inactive but their license has been expired for two years or less and they’ve practiced within the previous two years, they must submit verification of this license. However, if the license expired two or more years ago and the applicant hasn’t practiced within the previous two years, they must complete an approved refresher course and complete Competency to Practice forms.

    Applicants must also provide verification of other licenses they hold besides an RN license. When applying for a Colorado RN license by endorsement, applicants are required to provide detailed information on all healthcare licenses they’ve held in any state or country, including the license number, status of the license, and the issuance and expiration date of each one.

    Licensure by Exam

    In addition to the requirements of all applicants listed above, graduate nurses applying for Colorado licensure by exam also must:

    • Answer questions regarding their education and training

    • Upload their official school transcript(s) that includes the date the degree was awarded

    • Upload the Test Accommodations Request Form, if applicable

    Graduate nurses also must pass a written exam approved by the Colorado BON relating to the knowledge and skills learned in a registered nursing program. As part of the NLC, this exam must be the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

    Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    Nurses educated outside the U.S. or its territories must contact the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) to request a Credential Evaluation Service Professional Report or obtain an evaluation by a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). They also must pass an English proficiency exam and complete all other Colorado nurse licensing requirements.


    Colorado RN license applications sent to the Colorado BON must be reviewed by Board members during BON meetings, which are only held once per month. Therefore, the initial review takes a minimum of three weeks. During nursing application reviews, the Board may request some applicants to submit additional documents via email. Once the BON approves an applicant for licensure, Board staff will send out final email correspondence within 14 days of the BON meeting.

    Temporary Nurse License

    The Colorado BON may issue a temporary license to practice nursing for a four-month period to applicants for licensure by endorsement per the occupational credential portability program.

    The Board may also issue Special or Student permits to practice nursing for a period not to exceed two years. Both permits require holders to practice under the direct supervision of a registered nurse. Temporary permits are withdrawn if the Board determines the holder has failed to pass a nurse licensing exam or failed to complete all other requirements for professional nurse licensure.

    Special Permits

    Issued to individuals from another state, U.S. territory, or foreign country who’s in Colorado for special training or the observation of nursing education programs. Special permits are only issued to individuals who hold an active, unrestricted license in another state or U.S. territory. Applicants must:

    • Submit a copy or screen print of their current RN license in another state

    • Provide verification of original license through Nursys for participating states or a Request for Verification of Original Nursing License form for non-participating states

    • Submit a letter from the healthcare agency or institution that provides written details about the practice, including the purpose of the training and beginning and ending dates

    Special permits allow for occasional nursing practice that’s patient-specific or procedure-specific and limited to the practice performed as part of the special training or nursing education program.

    Student Permits

    Issued to students of non-traditional nursing education programs who require in-state clinical training and experience as part of an out-of-state education program. Nursing practice is limited to the practice performed as part of the nursing education program. Student permits are only issued to those who are seeking Colorado nurse licensure by exam upon completion of the program. Applicants must:

    • Submit evidence of completion of an out-of-state nursing education program or a non-traditional nursing education program approved by the Colorado BON

    • Attach an official transcript in the original sealed envelope indicating program completion

    • Enclose the completed Non-Traditional/Refresher Program Instructor/Preceptor Agreement 

    Once the applicant completes the course and receives their completed Non-Traditional/Refresher Program Skills Checklist, they must submit their checklist in its original sealed envelope along with an application for Colorado RN licensure by exam. Student permits aren’t valid for permanent employment as an RN.


    Colorado nursing license candidates apply online using Colorado DPO online services. They must submit payment of the required application fee using a credit card. All fees are nonrefundable, nontransferable, and subject to change every July 1.

    • RN Licensure by Exam: $190

    • RN Licensure by Endorsement: $120

    Colorado RN license renewal fees are subject to change. The Colorado BON publishes the renewal fee during each renewal period about 4 to 6 weeks before the biennial RN license expiration date.

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    Frequently asked questions

    Can Colorado nursing license applicants challenge the results of their criminal background check?

    Yes, nurse licensure applicants can challenge the accuracy of this information. To challenge the CBI criminal background check, applicants need a completed paper fingerprint card, which they can order from Colorado Fingerprinting at its Union Lakewood, Downtown Denver and Kalamath Denver locations. Mail the fingerprint card and a Record Challenge Information form along with the CBI criminal history record in question to:

    Biometric Identification and Records Unit Colorado Bureau of Investigation 690 Kipling St., Ste. 4000 Lakewood, CO 80215

    Applicants can also challenge the accuracy of their FBI criminal history record by sending their challenge to:

    FBI, Criminal Justice Information Services Division ATTN: SCU, Mod. D-2 1000 Custer Hollow Road Clarksburg, WV 26306

    Alternatively, the applicant can take their dispute directly to the arresting agency.

    Can an applicant use previous fingerprint and background check results for their Colorado RN license application?

    No, federal law requires applicants to submit a background check specifically for their Colorado Compact nurse license application. They can’t use one that’s been previously submitted for other background check requirements.