Illinois RN Licensing Guide

  • Not a Compact State
  • Participates in NURSYS
  • Renewal every 2 years


The Illinois Board of Nursing (BON) consists of 13 members and reported more than 222,600 registered nurses in early 2022. The Illinois BON falls under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and has since the IDFPR’s creation in 1917. The IDFPR issues Illinois nursing licenses to nursing professionals throughout the state. The Illinois BON’s duties include making recommendations on revisions of the rules and regulations governing the Nursing Practice Act and conducting hearings regarding charges calling for discipline of licensed nurses in Illinois.


Illinois BON’s duties cover recommendations on the approval or denial of nursing education programs. The pass rate of graduates on the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is included in the annual evaluation of nursing education programs. An integral part of the curriculum of nursing education programs in Illinois must incorporate the nursing process. The curriculum must also provide theoretical and clinical instruction in all areas of nursing practice and prepare students to earn their Illinois nursing license and assume beginning-level professional nursing positions. Nursing education programs must be at least two academic years in length.

Candidates applying for an Illinois RN license must submit and pay for their initial application online via IDFPR’s Online Services Portal. The Portal allows applicants to enter all required information electronically and attach supplemental documents. Once submitted, applicants may monitor the status of their application as it moves through the review process. Applicants must disclose their U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) if they have one.


All Illinois Registered Professional Nurse licenses expire on May 31 of every even-numbered year, regardless of when the IDFPR issued the license. The IDFPR sends out Illinois RN license renewal notifications approximately three months before this expiration date. Illinois RN license holders may renew their licenses the month before the expiration date by paying the required fee if they’ve completed the continuing education requirement.

Continuing Education Requirements

During every two-year licensure period, all RNs are required to complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE) within the 24 months preceding a biennial renewal. However, licensees are exempt from CE requirements during their first Illinois RN license renewal cycle.

As of January 1, 2020, one hour of the 20 hours required must be in sexual harassment prevention training. RNs may earn the remaining 19 CE hours by:

  • Authoring dissertations, articles, papers, book chapters, publications, or research projects in applicable practice areas

  • Obtaining academic credits

  • Completing independent study approved for CE credits, such as articles from journals, home study programs, and other health discipline modules

  • Being a lecturer or presenter of presentations made to other health professionals (up to 5 CE hours for each unique, non-repetitive 60-minute lecture)

  • Completing skills certification courses (up to 5 CE hours)

  • Attending or participating in a course or program offered or sponsored by an approved CE Sponsor with pre-approval or a CE Sponsor license

RNs can look up Illinois Nursing CE Sponsor licenses on the IDFPR’s license search portal. Nurses holding an Illinois RN license but residing and practicing in other states must still comply with the CE requirements in Illinois. However, they may satisfy State of Illinois CE requirements with CE hours earned in another jurisdiction. Illinois RNs are responsible for maintaining their own records of CE completion and must be prepared to produce these records if requested by the IDFPR.


Fingerprinting Requirements

All applicants for an Illinois nursing license must submit fingerprints for conducting a criminal history background check. In-state applicants must schedule an appointment with an approved licensed Illinois Live Scan Fingerprint Vendor. They must submit their fingerprint receipt with the 16-digit Transaction Control Number (TCN) as proof of fingerprinting.

Out-of-state applicants must complete and submit an Identity Verification Certifying Statement form (OOS-FP) proving they submitted fingerprints to a licensed Illinois Live Scan Vendor. Applicants who can’t schedule a fingerprinting appointment with a licensed vendor must:

  • Obtain an Illinois State Police (ISP) Fee Applicant Card for processing

    • CTS doesn’t supply fingerprint cards

    • Call the IDFPR at 800-560-6420 or send an email request to receive cards 

    • The ISP transmits electronic results of fingerprint processing to the IDFPR

  • Complete Section 1 of Form OOS-FP, provided in the application packet

  • Take the ISP Fee Applicant Card to a local police department

  • Ensure the police department completes and signs Section 2 of the OOS-FP

  • Choose a licensed Illinois Fingerprint Vendor with “Card Scan” capabilities

  • Mail the original OOS-FP, Fee Applicant Card, and fingerprint fee to this vendor

  • Keep a copy of all OOS-FP-related forms until the IDFPR issues the nursing license in case there are any issues in the fingerprinting/application process

Fingerprint receipts and Form OOS-FP are only valid for 60 days. If either one is older than 60 days when applying to CTS for an Illinois RN license, the CTS will require the applicant to submit new ones.

Contact Information

Illinois Board of Nursing
Springfield Address: 
IDFPR/Nursing Unit, 320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor, Springfield, IL 62786
Chicago Address: 
IDFPR/Nursing Unit, 100 West Randolph, 9th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601
Contact Form
(800) 560-6420


Illinois isn’t currently part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), but legislation has been introduced on several occasions regarding the NLC. Prominent nursing organizations regularly promote joining the NLC.

Licensure by Endorsement

Registered nurses licensed in another jurisdiction may file an application for Illinois nursing licensure by endorsement. Applicants must ensure all parts of their application are filled out fully and properly signed before submission. Applicants must utilize forms supplied by the IDFPR. Submissions must include:

  • Proof of graduation from a nursing education program that meets Illinois BON requirements

  • Proof of passage of a nurse licensure exam recognized by the IDFPR as recommended by the Illinois BON

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

    • State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE) for professional nurses 

  • Verification of fingerprint processing by the Illinois State Police (ISP) or its designated agent within the 60 days preceding application submission

  • Official transcripts prepared by a military official detailing theory and clinical education if the applicant received their education in the military service

  • Verification of licensure status from the jurisdictions the applicant was originally licensed, is currently licensed, and has been actively practicing

Applicants may remedy any deficiencies they have in nursing theory and/or clinical practice by taking courses in an approved nursing education program. RNs applying for licensure by endorsement may also apply for a Temporary Endorsement Permit, which allows them to practice nursing until they receive their license by endorsement.

Licensure by Exam

Graduate nurses applying for the first time to become an RN must apply for the Registered Professional Nurse Examination. This is a dual process in Illinois that requires applying to both Continental Testing Services, Inc. (CTS) and Pearson VUE Professional Testing. Applicants must register and pay for the NCLEX with Pearson VUE and submit the nurse licensure application, supporting documentation, and application fee to CTS because it determines an applicant’s eligibility to take the NCLEX, not IDFPR or the Illinois BON. First-time applicants for an Illinois nursing license must submit:

  • Certification of Education

    • Illinois schools may submit an Official Student Roster, an Official Transcript, or form ED-NUR

    • Out-of-state schools an applicant attended may only submit an Official Transcript or form ED-NUR

  • Proof of fingerprinting by a licensed Illinois Live Scan Fingerprint Vendor

CTS screens applications for eligibility after it receives all documentation and approves applicants for testing. Pearson VUE sends an Authorization to Test (ATT) to the applicant by email. The ATT is only valid for 90 days, and extensions aren’t allowed. Applicants must follow the instructions to schedule their NCLEX appointment. If the exam isn’t taken within the 90-day window, the applicant must reapply and repay fees to both CTS and Pearson VUE.

Official NCLEX results are usually released within 7 to 10 days. CTS reviews these results and sends Official Results Letters to applicants with instructions on applying for an Illinois RN license if they passed or instructions for applying to retest if they didn’t pass. Applicants must apply to IDFPR to obtain their license, but they shouldn’t apply before receiving their letter.

Applicants who don’t submit their application for an Illinois nursing license within one year of receiving their notice that they passed the NCLEX must start the process over unless they obtain licensure in another U.S. jurisdiction during this period. Overall, applicants have three years from the date they submitted their application with CTS to complete the application process, or their application is denied and fee forfeited, and they must resubmit new documentation, application fees, and proof of completion of an NCLEX Review Course.

Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

Applicants educated outside the U.S. or its territories have additional requirements, including a credentials evaluation report detailing their foreign nursing education issued by either the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or Education Records Evaluation Service (ERES) that includes:

  • Verification that the applicant completed nursing education equivalent to the nursing education received in U.S. states or territories

  • Official transcripts bearing the school seal from the nursing education program

  • Indications of any subject matter deficiencies

The credentials evaluation requirement may also be satisfied by submitting proof of a certificate from the CGFNS’ VisaScreen Program or Certificate Program if the certificate is based on the applicant’s receipt of nursing licensure in the country they were educated.

If the applicant’s first language isn’t English, they must also submit certification of an English proficiency test, such as the:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 560 on the paper-based test, 220 on the computer-based test, or 83 on the Internet-based test

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Module with a minimum band score of 6.5 overall and 7.0 spoken

Upon the recommendation from an approved credentials evaluation service, the IDFPR may waive the requirement to pass an English proficiency if the applicant completed a nursing education program conducted in English or passed an approved nurse licensing exam given in English.


CTS processes initial applications within 10 business days. Illinois nursing license applicants can check the status of their applications from the Application Status and Test Results link on the CTS home page. Application status is updated every business day online and isn’t available by phone or email. Applicants should only contact CTS concerning the status of their application if it’s been more than 10 business days since they submitted all required documents and the application fee.

Temporary Nurse License

The IDFPR has different rules regarding Temporary Nurse Licenses based on whether the applicant applied for an Illinois nursing license by exam or endorsement.

Applicants for licensure by exam may practice as a license-pending RN under the direct supervision of a licensed RN for up to three months from the date on their Official Results Letter stating they passed the licensure exam. However, they are prohibited from practicing until they’ve passed the NCLEX and have received an official IDFPR/CTS notification.

Applicants for licensure by endorsement may apply to the IDFPR to receive a Temporary Endorsement Permit that allows them to practice nursing while awaiting issuance of their license by endorsement. To qualify, temporary permit applications must include:

  • A completed, signed endorsement application and endorsement licensure fee

  • Photocopies of all current active nursing licenses and/or temporary licenses from all other jurisdictions

    • Current active licensure in at least one U.S. jurisdiction is required

    • Each license is checked on Nursys to determine whether an applicant’s file has any disciplinary action pending

  • Verification of submission of fingerprints to the ISP or its designated agent

  • Temporary permit fee

The IDFPR shall issue the Temporary Endorsement Permit within 14 days of receipt of the completed application and required documents. Temporary permits are good for six months, but will be terminated upon:

  • Issuance of a permanent Illinois nursing license by endorsement

  • Failure to complete the application process within six months of being issued a temporary permit

  • Discovery that the applicant has been convicted of a felony at any time or a misdemeanor directly related to the practice of nursing within the last five years

  • Discovery that the applicant had a nursing license or permit suspended, revoked, or placed on probation by another jurisdiction

  • Discovery that the applicant doesn’t meet the requirements for licensure by endorsement

The IDFPR notifies applicants by certified or registered mail if they’re being denied Illinois nurse licensure. Temporary permits for endorsement applicants may be renewed beyond the six-month period upon recommendation by the Illinois BON and approval of the Director due to serving full-time in the Armed Forces, an incapacitating illness, death of an immediate family member, or extenuating circumstances beyond the applicant’s control.


All payments for Illinois RN licensure fees must be drawn on a U.S. bank with payment in U.S. dollars. Any payment written on a bank account outside the U.S. will be rejected. Applications submitted online must be paid for with a credit card. When submitting paper applications, fees must be paid by certified check or money order. All fees are nonrefundable.

  • Application Fee for RN License: $50

  • Temporary Permit: $25

  • Licensure by Exam: $107

    • Payment should be made payable to Continental Testing Services, Inc. (CTS).

    • Doesn’t include the NCLEX exam registration fee of $200 paid to Pearson VUE

  • License Renewal: $80

  • License Restoration: $50 plus all lapsed renewal fees, not to exceed $250

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Frequently asked questions

Which skills certification courses count as CE for an Illinois RN license renewal?

Illinois RNs can earn up to two hours of CE for completing cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification through the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or another qualified organization. They can also earn up to three hours for Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification or recertification.

Is Illinois a compact state yet?

Illinois isn’t currently part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. Legislation has been introduced several times to try to join the NLC, but it's been unsuccessful as June 2022.

How do I check the status of my Illinois nursing license?

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation provides online access through its Professional License Lookup to verify all Illinois professional licenses.

Do I have to supply my Social Security number when I apply for an Illinois nursing license?

Yes, if you have a Social Security number, you must disclose it on your Illinois nursing license application. This is in accordance with five Illinois Compiled Statutes to obtain a license. If you don't have an SSN, you must submit an SSN affidavit.

How long do I have to finish the Illinois nursing license application process once I submit my application?

You have three years from the date the Department or Continental Testing Service, Inc. received your application to complete the application process. If you don't complete the process within three years, CTS denies your application and you forfeit your application fee.