Georgia RN Licensing Guide

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

Overview

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation to create what would become known as the Georgia Board of Nursing (GBON) on August 22, 1907. Today, the GBON is part of the Licensing Division of the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. It oversaw nearly 136,000 registered nurses in early 2022. The GBON enforces Board Rules and Regulations and the Georgia Nursing Practice Act by setting minimum standards for nursing education and practice, providing minimum qualifications for obtaining a Georgia nursing license, conducting investigations of complaints against nurses, and resolving these complaints.

The GBON approves nursing education programs that prepare nurses for entry into nursing practice. Its nursing education program approval services include annual reviews and routine site visits to determine continuing approval status of all nursing education programs. The GBON may schedule additional site visits based on drops in pass rates of graduates taking the nurse licensure exam or complaints received from consumers. The curriculum of nursing education programs must include courses in nursing, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

About

The GBON licenses graduate nurses through examination and nurses licensed in other states by endorsement. It also licenses graduates of nontraditional nursing education programs and issues multistate licenses. Candidates for a Georgia nursing license can file their applications electronically at Georgia Online Licensing by creating an account and uploading all required documents through the online portal. They can also submit their applications by mailing all their documents in a 9x12 envelope to the GBON.

All applicants applying for a multistate or single state license by endorsement or by exam, whether they're U.S. applicants, graduates of a nontraditional nursing program, or foreign-educated nurses, should register with Georgia Applicant Processing Services (GAPS)/Gemalto 48 hours before submitting their respective applications for nursing licensure to streamline the process. GAPS/Gemalto emails applicants the instructions on how to complete fingerprinting. All applicants must:

  • Have a U.S. Social Security Number

  • Submit a completed Background Consent Form

  • Complete fingerprinting for background checks

  • Provide documentation on disciplinary action, sanctions, and/or arrests, if applicable

  • Submit an affidavit of citizenship and transmit secure and verifiable citizenship or qualified alien documents

  • Submit any other additional information requested by the GBON, which varies based on the applicant’s situation

Renewal

Georgia RN licenses expire biennially on January 31 of the expiration year listed on the license. Nurses must complete the Georgia RN license renewal process online using their Georgia Online Licensing account. Applicants applying for renewal must satisfy one of the continued competency requirements during the two-year licensure period. Options include:

  • Completing 30 hours of continuing education (CE) hours by Board-approved providers

  • Maintaining certification by a Board-recognized national certifying body

  • Completing a Board-recognized, accredited academic program in nursing or a related field

  • Completing at least 500 hours of nursing practice and receiving verification of competency from a licensed healthcare facility or physician’s office that’s part of a health system

  • Completing a Board-approved reentry program

  • Graduating from a Board-approved nursing education program

RNs who fail to meet the minimum continuing competency requirements for renewal may have their Georgia RN license renewal applications denied. Licensees must submit documentation of completion of continuing competency activities on CE Broker and maintain this documentation for at least  four years from the date of renewal. There’s no cost for licensees to use CE Broker’s basic reporting services.

RNs renewing for the first time aren’t required to meet the minimum continuing competency requirements if their initial license period was six months or less. The late renewal period is February 1 to February 28 of the expiration year and RNs can still renew their licenses by paying a late renewal fee.

Continuing Education Requirements

The Georgia Board of Nursing accepts any combination of contact hours or continuing education units (CEUs) to fulfill the 30 CE hours to meet continuing competency requirements.

  • One contact hour equals 60 minutes of instruction

  • One CEU equals 10 hours of instruction

  • 30 contact hours or 3 CEUs equal 30 CE hours

Acceptable CE hours may be completed in a conventional classroom setting or through online courses, independent study, correspondence, or professional journals. Acceptable providers of CE for RNs include:

  • Any provider recognized by a national credentialing body, offering certification in the licensed nurse’s specialty area of practice

  • Georgia Nurses Association (GNA) and the GNA Continuing Education Provider/Approver Unit

  • Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) in Georgia or any state AHEC that’s a member of the National AHEC Organization

  • American Nurses Association (ANA) or any ANA-affiliated state nurses association provider/approver unit

  • National League for Nursing (NLN)

  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)

  • Any provider of professional continuing education for health care professionals

  • Any provider recognized by other state boards of nursing

  • Employer-sponsored CE programs with a minimum of one course objective

  • Professional journals offering continuing education approved by appropriate bodies

Certificates and transcripts documenting CE hours must include the provider’s approval/accreditation information and number of contact hours awarded.

Requirements

Fingerprinting Requirements

All applicants must complete fingerprint background checks. The GBI processes state and federal background checks for the GBON.

In-State Applicants:

In-state applicants for a Georgia RN license must complete fingerprinting at a GAPS fingerprinting site for electronic submission of fingerprints to the GBI for processing. Applicants must: 

  • Register on the GAPS/Gemalto website for fingerprinting

    • ORI Number: GA922931Z

    • Verification Number: 922931Z

  • Submit application for Georgia nursing license within 30 days of registration with GAPS

  • Receive an email from GAPS with fingerprinting instructions after GBON processes the application

  • Locate a convenient GAPS fingerprinting site.

  • Have fingerprints scanned within 90 days at a GAPS fingerprinting site

  • Bring valid photo ID to fingerprinting appointment

    • State-issued driver’s license

    • State-issued ID card

    • U.S. passport

    • Government-issued employee ID card

    • Military ID card

    • Tribal ID card

    • Acceptable secondary form of identification per GAPS FAQ page

  • Call GAPS at 888-439-2512 if additional assistance is necessary

Out-of-State Applicants:

The State of Georgia doesn’t have an electronic method to process background checks for out-of-state applicants, so they must use the manual method for submitting fingerprint cards to GAPS/Gemalto. Applicants must:

  • Request three blue FBI fingerprint cards (FD-258) on cardstock from a local law enforcement agency or private fingerprinting company that provides them

  • Contact the GBON via email ([email protected]) if local agencies are unable to provide FD-258 cards on cardstock

  • Complete identification sections on all three cards

  • Have fingerprints rolled onto all three cards by a local law enforcement agency or private company authorized and trained to roll fingerprints

  • Register online with GAPS/Gemalto, making sure to check the “Fingerprint Card User” box

  • Write Identification Number received during registration on the back of all three cards

  • Submit application for licensure within 30 days

After the GBON processes the licensure application, GAPS sends the applicant an email directing them to mail their fingerprint cards to:

Gemalto
Georgia Card Scan
APS Department #165
2964 Bradley Street
Pasadena, California 91107

Mail all three cards to GAPS, or mail one and keep two to mail later if GAPS rejects the first card. GAPS scans applicants’ fingerprint cards and submits the images to the GBI for processing. Background check results are sent directly to the GBON. Applicants should contact GAPS at 888-439-2512 with questions about the fingerprinting process.

Contact Information

Georgia Board of Nursing
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, Georgia 31217
[email protected]
(844) 753-7825

Multistate

Georgia became part of the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) on January 19, 2018. As part of the Compact, any registered nurse with a multistate license from another eNLC jurisdiction may practice in Georgia using their multistate privilege and George RNs with multistate licenses can practice in other Compact states without obtaining further licensing.

New applicants for Georgia nursing licenses are considered for multistate licensure if they qualify. RNs currently holding an active Georgia RN license also may be eligible to upgrade to a multistate license. Applicants for multistate licenses must be permanent residents of Georgia and meet the 11 Uniform Licensure Requirements. They must:

  • Meet all the GBON’s qualifications for licensure or license renewal

  • Declare Georgia their primary state of residence

  • Have a valid U.S. Social Security Number

  • Hold an active, encumbered license if upgrading or endorsing

  • Graduate from a licensing-board-approved RN prelicensure education program

  • Pass an English proficiency exam if the nursing education program wasn’t taught in English or English isn’t the applicant’s native language

  • Pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)

  • Submit fingerprints to obtain criminal history record information from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)

  • Not have any felony offenses under applicable state or federal criminal law

  • Not have any misdemeanor offenses related to the practice of nursing as determined on a case-by-case basis

  • Not be currently enrolled in an alternative program

  • Self-disclose any current participation in an alternative program

Besides completing the requirements of all nursing licensure applicants listed above, Georgia RNs wanting to apply for multistate licensure must:

  • Submit a completed, signed, and notarized application and appropriate fee either online or through the mail

  • Have an unencumbered Georgia nursing license

  • Upload documentation online (or email to [email protected]) proving permanent Georgia address, such as a:

  • Driver’s license

  • Voter registration card

  • Federal income tax return

  • Military Form No. 2058

  • W2 indicating state of residence

  • Graduate from a Board-approved nursing education program 

  • Submit Credential Evaluation of Education, if applicable

  • Pass a TOEFL English proficiency exam, if required

Licensure by Endorsement

Nurses with an active RN license in another U.S. jurisdiction may apply for licensure by endorsement if they’re going to be working in Georgia and they’re licensed by a non-Compact state or they live in a Compact state but they’re not eligible for a multistate license. Besides completing the requirements of all Georgia nursing license applicants, RNs seeking licensure by endorsement must:

  • Submit a completed, signed, and notarized application and appropriate fee by mail only

  • Have an active, unencumbered RN license

  • Have official college transcripts sent from the nursing school that made initial licensure possible

  • Provide verification of original license and current license directly from the licensing board that issued these licenses

  • Pass a TOEFL English proficiency exam, if required

  • Submit one of the following:

    • Proof of graduation from an approved nursing program completed within the past four years

    • Verification of 500 hours of licensed registered nursing practice within the past four years

    • Proposal for completing a Board-approved re-entry program

Licensure by Exam

Graduate nurses who graduated from a licensing-board-approved nursing education program in the U.S. and have never been previously licensed can apply for nursing licensure by exam in Georgia. Before submitting their application, graduate nurses should register with Pearson VUE, the testing center that administers the NCLEX. Besides completing the requirements of all Georgia nursing license applicants, U.S. applicants for licensure by exam also must:

  • Submit a completed, signed, and notarized application and appropriate fee either online or through the mail

  • Graduate from a Board-approved nursing education program

  • Have official college transcripts sent from the nursing school

  • Become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN

  • Pass the NCLEX-RN

Licensure by Exam for Graduates of Nontraditional Nursing Education Programs

Graduates of a nontraditional nursing education program who don’t meet the educational and practice requirements for standard nursing licensure by exam are required to complete a GBON-approved preceptorship. Besides completing the requirements of all Georgia nursing license applicants, graduates of nontraditional programs must:

  • Submit a completed, signed, and notarized paper application and appropriate fee

  • Upload documentation online (or email to [email protected]) proving permanent Georgia address:

    • Driver’s license

    • Voter registration card

    • Federal income tax return

    • Military Form No. 2058

    • W2 indicating state of residence

  • Submit Credential Evaluation of Education, if applicable

  • Pass a TOEFL English proficiency exam, if required

  • Include official college transcripts in the original sealed envelopes with the application packet or have them sent electronically from the school to the GBON

  • Submit the Clinical Experience Verification Form with appropriate experience documented on the form. If applicants entered the nontraditional nursing education program as a:

    • licensed practical nurse, they must document two years of practice in an acute care inpatient facility or long-term acute care facility within the past five years

    • military medical corpsman, they must document two years of experience as a medical corpsman

    • paramedic, they must document at least two years of experience as a paramedic before they entered the nontraditional education program

  • Become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN

  • Pass the NCLEX-RN

After completing the application process, applicants must submit a proposed plan for a preceptorship for approval by the GBON. Required preceptorships may be completed in facilities where applicants are currently employed and applicants for licensure may receive compensation.  Guidelines exist for 320-hour, 480-hour, 640-hour, and 480-to-640-hour preceptorships based on an applicant’s needs.

Once applicants receive approval for their proposed preceptorship, they may be issued a six-month temporary permit. Applicants are expected to complete their preceptorships within six months. However, temporary permits may be renewed once for an additional six months with a written request from the applicant and an updated clinical schedule from the Agency Coordinator.

Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

Graduates of nursing education programs outside the U.S. or applicants who are RNs in Puerto Rico must apply for licensure by exam for international graduates. Besides completing the requirements of all Georgia nursing license applicants, foreign educated nurses must:

  • Submit a completed, signed, and notarized application and appropriate fee by mail only

  • Submit passing NCLEX-RN scores, if taken in another NCLEX-jurisdiction, or register with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX-RN

  • Graduate from a licensing-board-approved nursing program or a nursing program approved by the authorized accrediting body in the applicant’s country that’s been verified by an independent credentials review agency and deemed comparable

  • Register with Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) and request an evaluation of credentials

  • Request CGFNS to send a Credential Evaluation Service (CES) Report with official college transcripts and verification of current licensure to the GBON

  • Pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 550 (paper test), 213 (computer test), or 79 (Internet test) if the education wasn’t completed in English with English textbooks

  • Complete practice requirements if graduation from a nursing education program was more than four years ago:

  • 500 hours of RN practice within the past four years with a Verification of Employment form completed by employer and submitted to the GBON

  • Board-approved reentry program within the past four years

Timing

The initial review of an application for a Georgia nursing license usually takes less than 15 business days once the GBON receives all required documentation. If an applicant receives a deficiency letter, the 15-day time frame restarts once the GBON receives the correct/complete documentation. Applications may be withdrawn if an applicant fails to correct deficiencies within 60 days of notification. When an application is withdrawn, the applicant must restart the process, including submitting all required documents and fees. 

Applications are individually evaluated in date order received. Overall processing time can vary based on volume and individual circumstances. Applications with issues with previous disciplinary action, past criminal behavior, or similar complications may take substantially longer to review.

Once the GBON approves an application, the applicant receives their Authorization to Test from Pearson VUE so they can schedule their NCLEX-RN. They also receive their email from GAPS to schedule fingerprinting which is sent electronically to the GBI. The GBON typically receives these results within 72 hours. If the background check is clear and the applicant passes the NCLEX, licensure moves forward.

Temporary Nurse License

Georgia doesn’t normally offer temporary nursing licenses. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor signed an Executive Order that temporarily authorized the GBON to review applications for temporary permits without an application fee. Also, graduates of nontraditional nursing education programs may be issued a temporary permit while they’re completing their preceptorship required for nursing licensure.

Fees

The Board establishes all fees for applications for licensure by exam or endorsement and renewals, plus all other authorized fees associated with nursing. All fees are nonrefundable, must be paid in U.S. funds, and may be periodically updated by the GBON. Current fees include:

  • Licensure by Exam: $40

  • Licensure by Endorsement: $75

  • Multistate Upgrade: $50

  • APRN Authorization: $90

  • Licensure Reinstatement: $90

  • License Renewal: $65

  • Late License Renewal: $75

  • License Verification: $35

  • Transcript Request: $15

  • Repeat Licensure Exam (each instance): $40

  • Pearson VUE Exam Fee (each instance): $200

  • Wall Certificate: $50

  • Replacement Pocket Card: $25

  • Nursing Education Program Development: $1000

Effective March 15, 2022, the GBON added a processing fee to any application or document request. Requests processed online incur a $5 fee and requests by mail incur a $10 fee.

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Frequently asked questions

What do I do if I fail the NCLEX-RN after applying for a Georgia nursing license?

Georgia nursing license applicants who fail the NCLEX must submit a paper application for re-examination, background check, and $40 application fee. They may apply for re-examination at any time but Pearson VUE won’t authorize retaking the NCLEX for 45 days. Applicants must pass the exam within three years of graduating from their nursing education program.

How can a licensed Georgia RN obtain another pocket card?

RNs can print a copy of their pocket card from their Georgia Online Licensing account or order one by sending a written request to the GBON along with a check or money order for $25 payable to the Professional Licensing Boards. RNs should report lost or stolen pocket cards to the GBON immediately.

Is Georgia a compact state for RNs?

Yes, Georgia implemented the Nurse Licensure Compact for the first time on January 19, 2018.

How long does it take to get my Georgia RN license?

The initial review of a Georgia nursing license application usually takes less than 15 business days once the Georgia BON receives all required documentation. If you receive a deficiency letter, the 15-day time frame restarts once the GBON receives the correct/complete documentation. Applications are individually evaluated in date order received. Overall processing time can vary based on volume and individual circumstances.

Does Georgia issue temporary nursing licenses?

No, Georgia doesn't normally issue temporary nursing licenses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor signed an Executive Order that temporarily authorized the GBON to review applications for temporary permits, but it quit issuing temporary permits on April 15, 2021.