• Licenses
  • Kentucky RN Licensing Guide

    • Compact State
    • Participates in NURSYS
    • Renewal every year


    The Kentucky Board of Nursing (KBN) consists of 16 members appointed by the Governor. It protects the public by developing and enforcing state laws governing the safe practice of nurses. KBN members aspire to deliver the highest quality services in healthcare regulations. More than 73,000 registered nurses held Kentucky nursing licenses in early 2022 per the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s (NCSBN) Nursys database.


    The KBN evaluates, approves, and regulates pre-licensure nursing education programs to ensure nurses receive the knowledge and training required to provide safe, competent care. It only approves nursing programs that originate in Kentucky and has oversight of pre-licensure programs only. Although the KBN doesn’t have regulatory oversight of out-of-state pre-licensure nursing education programs, it does recognize nurses who graduated from programs approved/accredited by other state boards of nursing.

    All applicants for a Kentucky nursing license are encouraged to complete an online application to streamline the process. However, applicants can request that a paper application be mailed to them for $40.

    Applicants for nurse licensure by endorsement or exam must pass a Jurisprudence Exam with a score of 80% or higher. This computerized exam given by NCSBN has an “open book” format and contains 35 questions about Kentucky nursing laws. Applicants can complete the exam in multiple sittings but must achieve a passing score within three weeks of purchase, or the exam expires, and they’ll have to pay another $15 fee to access the exam.


    Kentucky RN license renewal occurs every year. The licensure period for all RNs is November 1 through October 31 annually, and the renewal period runs from September 15 to October 31. Online renewal applications are available during this time frame. However, paper Kentucky RN license renewal applications are also available.

    Continuing Education Requirements

    The annual Kentucky RN license renewal process requires nurses to complete at least 14 contact hours of nursing continuing education (CE) through an approved or accepted provider every year before they can renew their licenses. Contact hours must be at least 50 minutes in length and cover an approved, organized learning experience. RNs must complete their CE requirements using only one of the following options:

    • Earn 14 CE contact hours

    • Earn 7 CE contact hours and submit a KBN Nursing Continuing Education Employment Evaluation Form covering at least six months during the earning period

    • Current national certification/recertification related to the RN’s practice role (excludes clinical certifications)

    • Complete a post-licensure academic course relevant to nursing practice with each semester hour of academic credit equal to 15 contact hours or each quarter hour of academic credit equal to 12 contact hours

    • Participate as a preceptor for at least 120 hours for one nursing student or new employee as documented by a KBN Preceptor Continuing Education Verification Form 

    • Publish an article in a peer-reviewed, health-related journal

    • Present a nursing CE presentation to nurses or other health professionals

    • Complete a nursing research project as a project director, principal investigator, or co-investigator with submission of a project abstract and summary of the findings

    The KBN accepts CE courses from CE providers it approves and CE providers that other state boards of nursing approve. It also accepts CE providers approved by:

    • National League for Nursing

    • American Nurses Credentialing Center

    • American Association of Nurse Practitioners

    • Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health

    • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

    • American College of Nurse-Midwives

    • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

    • Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses

    • National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

    • National Association for Practical Nurses Education and Service

    • National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses

    Applicants who complete CE courses through a provider not approved by the KBN may submit an Application for Individual Review along with all required documents.

    The KBN also has several mandatory CE requirements for Kentucky RN licensees, including:

    • All nurses must complete mandatory CE in suicide prevention and implicit bias

      • One-time requirement

      • Minimum of 2 contact hours in suicide prevention

      • Minimum of 1.5 contact hours in implicit bias

    • All nurses holding a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) credential must complete at least 5 contact hours of SANE CE

    • All nurses educated outside of Kentucky and all nurses educated inside Kentucky before December 2011 must complete pediatric abusive head trauma /shaken baby syndrome CE

      • One-time requirement

      • Within first 3 years of licensure

      • 1.5 contact hours

    • All nurses educated outside of Kentucky and all nurses educated inside Kentucky before May 1998 must complete domestic violence CE

    Every year the KBN selects nurses at random to audit who must provide proof of completion of CE requirements. The KBN emails CE Audit notifications from CE Broker every February.

    CE Broker is the official CE tracking system of the KBN. Each nurse gets a Free Basic Account to electronically upload and report CE documents. However, it’s not mandatory for nurses to use this program.


    Fingerprinting Requirements

    All applicants for a Kentucky RN license must obtain state and federal criminal background check reports for KBN through the IdentoGO Live Scan process. Live Scans through IdentoGO replace all previous fingerprinting requirements. The KBN receives the results of both criminal background reports directly from IdentoGO, usually within three business days. These reports are valid for six months. Contact IdentoGO Customer Service Call Center at (844) 543-9714 with any questions about the fingerprinting process.

    Kentucky Residents:

    All applicants must pre-enroll and schedule an appointment online or by calling 844-543-9714. Kentucky residents must:

    • Register on the UEnroll/IdentoGO website utilizing the KBN Service Code 27GKJR 

    • Complete all necessary personal data

    • Schedule an appointment at an IdentoGO center

    • Print service summary that details appointment and what to bring

    • Arrive at the site for the fingerprinting appointment

    • Verify identity and provide birthdate to enter the enrollment process

    • Confirm what they’re enrolling for

    • Confirm personal and biographic data

    • Present valid, unexpired photo ID document:

      • State-issued driver’s license, driver’s permit, Enhanced Driver’s License, commercial driver’s license, commercial driver’s license permit, or paper/temporary driver’s license

      • ID card issued by a local, state, or federal agency

      • U.S. or Foreign Passport

      • U.S. Military Identification Card

      • Military Dependent's Identification Card

      • Uniformed Services ID Card 

      • Department of Defense Common Access Card

      • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card

      • Enhanced Tribal Identification Card

      • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card 

      • Employment Authorization Card/Document with a photo

      • U.S. Visa issued by the U.S. Department of Consular Affairs 

      • Canada or Mexico Driver's License

    • Have fingerprints captured

    • Sign to confirm enrollment and receive a receipt

    Out-of-State Applicants:

    Non-Kentucky residents must still register on the UEnroll/IdentoGO website utilizing the KBN Service Code 27GKJR. They may choose an IdentoGO enrollment center to complete Live Scan fingerprinting if there’s a location near them. Applicants use the same pre-enrollment and fingerprint process as Kentucky residents when using Live Scan at an IdentoGO center.

    Applicants who don’t have access to an IdentoGO enrollment center may choose to complete the out-of-state hard card scan process using FBI FD-258 Applicant Fingerprint Cards. Hard cards take several more weeks to process. Applicants must:

    • Complete the online registration

    • Receive instructions on how to submit completed fingerprint cards

    • Print and sign the completed pre-enrollment confirmation page

    • Obtain an FBI FD-258 card, available at most places that do fingerprinting

    • Have fingerprints rolled onto the card by an authorized fingerprinting agency

    • Complete personal information on the fingerprint card and sign it

    • Mail the pre-enrollment confirmation page and fingerprint card to the mailing address of the IDEMIA card scan conversion facility provided

    IDEMIA stores applicants’ forms and cards for 90 days, then shreds all documents. Applicant packets missing required information are returned to the applicant.

    Contact Information

    Kentucky Board of Nursing 312 Whittington Parkway, Suite 300 Louisville, KY 40222 Contact Form 800-305-2042


    Kentucky was part of the original Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and joined the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), which the state implemented on January 19, 2018. The NLC is an interstate agreement that allows RNs licensed in Kentucky to practice in all states that are part of the Compact with one multistate license.

    Although Kentucky is a Compact state, not all Kentucky RN licenses are multistate licenses. The KBN online validation system verifies if a Kentucky nursing license includes multistate privileges. RNs may hold a multistate license in only one Compact state at a time, which must be their primary state of residence (PSOR).

    By Compact rules, the PSOR isn’t related to property ownership in a state. The PSOR is the state listed on legal documents, such as a driver’s license, federal income tax return, voter registration card, or Military Form 2058. To be eligible for a Compact license, applicants must provide proof of PSOR and meet the following 11 uniform criteria:

    • Meet all the Kentucky nurse licensure requirements

    • Graduate from a Board-approved nursing education program or international nursing education program approved by the applicable authorized accrediting body

    • Pass an English proficiency exam if applicable

    • Pass the NCLEX-RN or its predecessor

    • Hold or be eligible to hold an active, unencumbered nursing license

    • Submit to state and federal fingerprint-based criminal history background checks

    • Have no felony convictions under state or federal law

    • Have no misdemeanor convictions related to nursing practice

    • Isn’t currently part of an alternative program

    • Self-disclose participation in an alternative program

    • Have a valid U.S. Social Security number

    Licensure by Endorsement

    Applicants licensed in another U.S. state or jurisdiction and haven’t ever held a Kentucky nursing license should apply for licensure by endorsement. Only RNs who don’t have a Compact license or only hold a single state license from a Compact or non-Compact state can apply for licensure by endorsement. To apply, applicants must:

    • Complete an online application or request a paper endorsement application

    • Pass the Jurisprudence Exam and download a copy of the completion certificate 

    • Complete the state and federal criminal background checks through IdentoGO

    • Report any criminal convictions, except traffic misdemeanors besides DUIs

    • Request the state that issued the original nursing licensure by exam after passing the NCLEX to send verification of licensure to the KBN

    • Request nursing program to send the KBN an official transcript with the degree and graduation date if the nursing program was located in:

      • California

      • Connecticut

      • Hawaii

      • Kansas

      • Michigan

      • Washington

      • Puerto Rico (graduated before September 1, 2006)

    Schools may send transcripts electronically through a clearinghouse like Parchment or email to [email protected] or mail to the KBN office/ATTN: Endorsement.

    If applicable, recipients of Kentucky nurse licensure by endorsement also must submit proof of continuing education (CE). RNs who’ve been licensed for more than five years but haven’t practiced nursing for 500 hours within the past five years must submit proof of 120 hours of CE earned within one year of the application date.

    Kentucky nurse licensure by endorsement applications are valid for one year. If all requirements for licensure aren’t met within one year, the application expires, and the applicant must start the process over, including paying all fees.

    Licensure by Exam

    Nurses educated in the U.S. who’ve graduated from an approved nursing education program but have never been licensed before must apply for a Kentucky RN license by exam. Initial licenses may be a multistate license if the applicant qualifies or a single state license if they don’t. To apply, applicants must:

    • Complete an online application or request a paper exam application

    • Pass the Jurisprudence Exam and download a copy of the completion certificate 

    • Complete the state and federal criminal background check through IdentoGO

    • Report any criminal convictions, except traffic misdemeanors besides DUIs

    • Request nursing program to send the KBN verification of completion of an approved nursing education program

      • Kentucky nursing schools automatically submit all student names on a certified list to the KBN

      • Applicants who attended out-of-state nursing schools must request the school to send the KBN an official transcript electronically through a clearinghouse or email or mail it to the KBN office/ATTN: Examination

    • Register with Pearson VUE for the NCLEX exam

    Once the KBN grants eligibility to take the NCLEX, the applicant receives an Authorization to Test (ATT) via email from Pearson VUE. The ATT contains their candidate identification number, authorization number, and expiration date. Applicants must schedule an appointment to take the NCLEX using their ATT, which is only valid for 90 days. This timeframe can’t be extended for any reason and if it expires, the applicant must register for the NCLEX again and pay another $200 registration fee.

    Applications for Kentucky nurse licensure by exam are valid for one year unless the applicant fails the NCLEX, then the application immediately becomes void. If the applicant doesn’t complete all requirements within one year, the application expires. If the application expires or becomes void, the applicant must start the entire process over again, including submitting a new application and paying all fees.

    Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    Applicants educated outside the U.S. must complete the same steps for licensure as those educated within the U.S., but they have additional steps. Whether they’re applying for Kentucky nurse licensure by exam or licensure by endorsement, these steps include a credential evaluation and English proficiency exam.

    Applicants must request a credential evaluation from a credential evaluation company approved by the KBN. Approved companies include:

    Once the company completes the evaluation, they must send the report to the KBN through email to [email protected]​ or by mail to the KBN office/Attn: Endorsement or Attn: Examination, depending on the type of application submitted.

    Applicants must earn a passing score on an approved English language proficiency test with these results also sent to the KBN via email or mail. They may submit one of the following tests with the passing scores indicated:

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Internet-Based Test with an Overall Score of 84 and Speaking Score of 26

    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Test with an Overall Score of 6.5 and a Speaking Score of 6.0

    Because Puerto Rico isn’t a member of the NCSBN, applicants educated in this U.S. territory also must request a credential evaluation if they graduated after September 1, 2006. Applicants for licensure by endorsement and licensure examination educated in Puerto Rico must fulfill this requirement and all standard requirements for their respective applications.


    The KBN reviews applications and documents within 14 days. However, applications indicating the applicants have disciplinary or conviction issues can take up to three months to process. Out-of-state applicants who use the hard card processing method will increase their application processing time by 6 to 8 weeks.

    Temporary Nurse License

    The KBN may issue a Kentucky nursing license by endorsement applicants a temporary license while awaiting receipt of the verification of original licensure from the appropriate licensing board if all other requirements have been satisfied. The only exception is nurses educated and originally licensed in California, who aren’t eligible for a temporary permit until the KBN receives the transcript. Because applicants are licensed RNs in another state, a temporary permit doesn’t require them to practice under supervision. Temporary permits are valid for six months.

    Applicants of a Kentucky RN license by exam are issued provisional licenses, not temporary permits. Provisional licenses allow applicants to work as RN applicants (RNA) and provide direct patient care under the direct supervision of an RN or APRN. Provisional licenses are only valid in Kentucky and only for six months. Provisional licenses are immediately invalidated and the provisional licensee must immediately cease practicing if the applicant fails the NCLEX. The KBN issues only one provisional license to an applicant. If the applicant invalidates their provisional license for failing the NCLEX, they won’t be issued another one when they reapply to take the exam.

    Nurses educated outside the U.S. are eligible for temporary permits and provisional licenses under the same rules as those educated inside the U.S.


    All Kentucky RN licensure fees collected by the KBN are nonrefundable. Effective July 6, 2020, all transactions processed by the banking industry are subject to an additional banking fee above the amount due. The KBN will charge $1.00 on online check (ACH) transactions and add 2.75% of the payment total to credit card transactions. Application fees and other relevant costs include:

    • Licensure by Endorsement: $165

    • Licensure by Examination: $125

    • Paper Application Request: $40

    • Name Change: $25

    • Copy of an Examination Result or Transcript: $25

    • Request to Transfer NCLEX Test Results: $75

    • Annual RN License Renewal: $65

    • Reinstatement: $135

    • Retired Licensure Status: $25

    • Verification of Original Licensure: $50

    • Returned Check Fee: $35

    • Retired Licensure Status: $25

    When paying annual renewal fees, $5 of the fee goes to the Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund (NISF) and another $5 goes to the Kentucky Alternative Recovery Effort (KARE). Besides KBN fees related to Kentucky nursing licensure, other entities collect additional fees during the licensure process. The KBN isn’t involved in collecting these fees, which are subject to change without notice. Additional nurse licensure fees include:

    • $200 National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) fee paid directly to Pearson VUE

    • $15 Jurisprudence Exam fee paid directly to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)

    • $51.25 fee for obtaining state and federal background reports paid directly to IdentoGO

    • $30 nurse license verification for endorsement paid directly to Nursys

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    Frequently asked questions

    How does an applicant retake the NCLEX in Kentucky?

    Applicants who don’t pass the NCLEX receive an NCLEX Candidate Performance Report that shows how they performed in each test content area and a letter from the KBN. They must submit a new examination application and fee to KBN and submit a new registration and $200 fee to Pearson VUE. If their background check is more than six months old, they must redo it, and if their Jurisprudence Exam is more than a year, they must redo it. After receiving a new ATT, they schedule their retest, which must be at least 45 days from the date of their last exam.