Minnesota RN Licensing Guide

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


The Minnesota Legislature established the Minnesota Board of Nursing (MBN) in 1907 to oversee the safe practice of nursing in the state. The Governor appoints MBN members from applications submitted to the Secretary of State. MBN members are committed to protecting the public through excellence in nursing regulation and ensuring access to safe, competent, and ethical practitioners by issuing Minnesota nursing licenses to qualified individuals. About 134,370 registered nurses held licenses in Minnesota in April 2024 per the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) National Nursing Database.


MBN promotes excellence in nursing education by approving and monitoring professional nursing programs in the state. In Minnesota, approved nursing programs must meet the educational requirements for licensure as a registered nurse, including acceptable pass/fail rates on the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). MBN doesn’t have the jurisdiction to approve any out-of-state nursing education programs.

The quickest way to apply for a Minnesota nursing license is online. Applying online also allows applicants to check the status of their application throughout the process. The MBN Online Services platform isn’t compatible with Internet Explorer version 10. Applicants who can’t access the online portal should try Chrome, Firefox, or another browser. The platform also may not be fully compatible with tablets and smartphones.


The licensure period of an applicant’s initial Minnesota RN license is determined by the date of licensure in relation to their month and year of birth. Therefore, the initial license may be valid between 6 and 29 months. After this first licensure period, Minnesota RN license renewals occur every two years. MBN mails renewal reminders via postcard and email approximately three months before an RN’s license expires.

MBN no longer mails paper renewal applications unless the RN requests a paper application by checking the box on the back of their postcard reminder and returning it to the MBN office. RNs may also call the MBN office to request a paper Minnesota RN license renewal application. However, it’s quicker to renew online.

Continuing Education Requirements

Minnesota RNs must complete a Testifying Statement of Completion of Continuing Education certifying they've completed the 24 contact hours of continuing education (CE) required for Minnesota RN license renewal. They must complete the form and contact hours during each 24-month licensure period. CE may also be required for RNs who apply for licensure by endorsement or for reregistration after allowing their license to lapse. RNs may fulfill their CE requirements by participating in CE activities offered by qualified CE providers, obtaining a nursing specialty certificate, or participating in certain professional activities.

Although MBN provides a list of CE resources, it’s the licensee’s responsibility to determine whether a CE activity, nursing certificate, or professional activity meets CE requirements. To help make this determination, RNs should ensure the CE:

  • Is designed to enhance their ability to practice nursing

  • Is taught by an instructor qualified by education or experience to teach the CE

  • Can be completed during their CE participation period

  • Has written objectives describing what’s being taught

  • Is approved by a health licensing board or association

Each CE activity must last at least 15 minutes. One contact hour equals 60 minutes, but RNs can combine four 15-minute learning activities to create one contact hour. Licensees can also count academic courses towards their CE requirement. Each quarter academic credit equals 10 contact hours, and each semester academic credit equals 15 contact hours.

Minnesota RNs can also use nursing specialty certificates to fulfill their CE requirement. Certifications may be initial certifications or recertifications but must be issued by a national professional nursing or medical organization, such as:

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center

  • American Nurses Association 

  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

  • Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board 

  • National Certification Corporation

  • Competency and Credentialing Institute 

  • American Board for Occupational Health Nurses 

  • American Midwifery Certification Board

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

  • Pediatric Nursing Certification Board

  • Association of Rehabilitation Nurses 

  • Addictions Nursing Certification Board

  • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses 

  • American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses 

  • Emergency Nurses Association 

  • Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission 

  • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation 

  • Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association 

  • Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board 

  • American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses 

  • American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification 

  • National Board for Certification of School Nurses 

  • National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurses Anesthetists

  • Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board 

  • American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants 

  • HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board 

  • Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center 

  • Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation 

  • International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses

MBN also accepts certain professional activities as CE activities, such as when an RN:

  • Publishes an article in a book or peer-reviewed journal on topics related to nursing or healthcare issues

  • Serves as the principal investigator or co-investigator for a research study related to nursing or healthcare

  • Serves as a member of a national panel that addresses issues related to nursing or healthcare

  • Delivers a professional paper related to nursing or healthcare

RNs must maintain evidence of the CE activity, academic coursework, specialty certification, or professional activity for two years after using it to fulfill their CE requirement for a Minnesota RN license renewal cycle. CE providers should furnish participants with written documentation to use as evidence. Documentation should include the name and qualifications of the instructor, date and title of the activity, number of contact hours earned, and objectives of the CE. They should also provide a certificate of completion or statement that verifies participation.

Licensees chosen for random audits by MBN must provide sufficient documentation to prove they completed the required CE contact hours in the current licensure period. Otherwise, they face disciplinary action.


Fingerprinting Requirements

All Minnesota health-related licensing boards are legally required to conduct criminal background checks before issuing a license. Applicants for a Minnesota nursing license by endorsement or exam must submit their licensure application and pay licensure and CBC fees first. Then, they receive a CBC packet via email. MBN charges $33.25 for the state and federal CBCs, but the agency completing the fingerprinting may charge an additional fee.

Applicants may use the ink and paper method or the digital scanning method to have their fingerprints taken. MBN accepts both but prefers digital fingerprints because they’re less likely to be rejected as unreadable. Applicants have four options for obtaining their fingerprints. Each option requires them to bring a government-issued photo ID to the fingerprinting office to verify their identity. They may use:

The Criminal Background Check Program Office
335 Randolph Avenue, Suite 180
St. Paul, MN 55102
[email protected]
(651) 201-2822
Hours of operation: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. M-F
Appointments required / No charge

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
1430 Maryland Avenue East
St Paul, MN 55106
(651) 793-7000
Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. M-F
Cost $10 by cash, personal check, cashier’s check, or money order

A local law enforcement agency, such as a police station or sheriff’s department
Locations, hours of operation, and costs vary
Digital or ink and paper are okay

Private vendors offering fingerprinting services
Locations, hours of operation, and costs vary
Ink and paper only; these vendors can’t electronically transmit fingerprints

If the BCA returns an applicant’s first set of fingerprints as unreadable, MBN allows them to submit a second set without an additional charge. However, if the BCA returns the second set, the applicant must pay another $33.25 CBC fee to MBN. If the BCA returns the third set, MBN obtains the applicant’s criminal history through a name and birthdate search. This route significantly lengthens the time required to complete CBCs, which MBN requires before licensure.

Typically, it can take up to three weeks for the MBN to receive a CBC report, which it must review. However, the time frame can vary based on the volume of applications, an applicant’s criminal history, and whether MBN requires further information.

Contact Information

Minnesota Board of Nursing
1210 Northland Drive, Suite 120
Mendota Heights, MN 55120
[email protected]
(612) 317-3000 / (888) 234-2690


Minnesota hasn’t become a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) member, which requires legislative approval. However, more than 80% of nurses surveyed in 2017 approved joining the NLC. In March 2022, the Minnesota Senate approved legislation that would establish Minnesota as a member of the NLC, which took nearly a year. The bill moved to the House of Representatives for their decision.

Although Minnesota isn’t currently part of the NLC and doesn’t offer or recognize multistate/Compact nursing licenses, it’s had a border state license recognition program in place since January 2003. To join the Border State Registry, RNs must permanently reside and be licensed in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin. If they qualify, they can practice nursing in Minnesota without a Minnesota nursing license.

Applicants must be employed by a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare institution in Minnesota. They also must not:

  • Have previously been refused a Minnesota nursing license

  • Have any current adverse action against a Minnesota nursing license that resulted in them losing their authority to practice

  • Have any current or past adverse action against a nursing license in a border state

  • Be participating in an alternative or diversion program for healthcare professionals whose impairment may impact their ability to practice safely

  • Be referred by the courts to participate in an alternative or diversion program

RNs who meet all eligibility requirements must mail a completed Border State License Recognition Report of Employment form and applicable fee to the MBN office. MBN sends them a confirmation letter or email when it places them on the Border State Registry. Applicants must receive this confirmation before they start working at a Minnesota healthcare facility. Their employer must report their employment to MBN within 10 days of beginning employment and include a copy of their border state license. 

Licensure by Endorsement

Applicants licensed by examination as an RN in another state wanting to practice in Minnesota must obtain a Minnesota RN license through endorsement. To apply, RNs must complete a Licensure by Endorsement Application online or print an application from the website. Applicants must complete, sign, and mail paper applications to MBN with the licensure fee. Endorsement candidates must also:

  • Request verification of licensure from the state, territory, or province where they were initially licensed and where they’re currently practicing (if the two differ)

  • Request their current (or most recent if unemployed) employer to complete a Confirmation of Nursing Employment for Licensure by Endorsement form and return it to MBN

  • Complete continuing education (CE) or a Nursing Refresher Course, based on how long it’s been since they last practiced (decided after processing the Confirmation of Nursing Employment form)

  • Follow the instructions on completing a criminal background check (CBC) received via email upon submission of the nursing endorsement application

Applicants are responsible for ensuring MBN receives all forms and fees necessary to complete their application. They should confirm their application submission and check the processing status of their application using their online services account. Minnesota RN licensure by endorsement applicants may request a temporary license on their online or paper application for use while they await application review.

Licensure by Exam

Graduate nurses may submit their Licensure by Exam Application and applicable fees online or by printing and mailing a paper application to MBN. During the application process, they must:

  • Answer questions in the Grounds for Denial section and provide evidence they haven’t engaged in any conduct warranting disciplinary action

    • MBN investigates any “Yes” answers before licensure

  • Follow the instructions on completing a criminal background check received via email upon submission of the licensure by exam application

  • Request their nursing education program to complete and submit a Confirmation of Program Completion form

    • Minnesota nursing programs confirm completion online

    • Out-of-state programs must submit paper forms directly to MBN

  • Register with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX-RN

    • Online at www.nclex.com or call NCLEX Candidate Services at 866-496-2539

  • Schedule NCLEX-RN after receiving their Authorization to Test (ATT) via email from Pearson VUE once MBN makes them eligible to test

    • ATT is only valid for 90 days

    • After 90 days, they must reregister with Pearson VUE and pay another exam fee

    • If they don’t take the NCLEX within one year, their application with MBN becomes nullified, and they must start over

Applicants who pass the NCLEX receive their Michigan RN license in the mail about 10 business days after taking the exam. If they didn’t pass, MBN sends them an Examination Retake Request packet and a diagnostic profile outlining their performance on the exam. Applicants who graduated more than five years ago must complete a review course before being approved to take the NCLEX. Graduate nurses aren’t eligible for a temporary Michigan nursing license; they must wait for full licensure.

Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

Foreign educated nurses complete the same basic steps as those educated in the U.S., but they must submit additional information, and MBN handles licensure and education verifications differently.

Applicants educated in Canada seeking Minnesota RN licensure by endorsement must:

  • Request licensure verification from the original Canadian province that initially licensed them

  • Request licensure verification from the U.S. jurisdiction that most recently licensed them as an RN

Applicants educated in Canada who’ve never been licensed in Canada seeking Minnesota RN licensure by exam must:

  • Request the Canadian nursing education program to submit an official transcript or Confirmation of Program Completion form directly to MBN

All applicants educated in Quebec must pass an approved English proficiency test unless they graduated from a nursing school that exempts them from this requirement. Schools approved for exemptions include Dawson College, Heritage College, John Abbott College, McGill University, and Vanier College. Proof of completion must be sent directly to MBN.

Applicants educated in a foreign country other than Canada must:

  • Order a Credentials Evaluation Report through the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Certification Program to be sent directly to MBN

Unless the applicant completed a nursing education program taught in English in an English-speaking country, they must pass an approved English proficiency test:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) with an overall score of 84 and a minimum speaking score of 26 

    • Request the TOEFL report to be sent to MBN using the Minnesota TOEFL code: 9416

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

    • Request the Academic Test Report Form to be sent to MBN

Applicants are exempt from the English proficiency testing requirement if they completed their entry-level professional nursing education in certain countries and the textbooks and verbal instructions were in English. These countries include all provinces of Canada except Quebec, Australia, Barbados, England, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and Wales.

Foreign educated applicants may want to complete the evaluation of their credentials and English proficiency test before applying for a Minnesota nursing license. If MBN doesn’t receive the evaluation and test results within one year of receiving their application, their application becomes nullified, and the applicant must reapply for licensure with new fees.


The overall time frame of licensure from application to receiving a Minnesota RN license varies based on numerous factors. However, the timelines to complete certain steps impact the time to licensure. Receiving a CBC report can take up to three weeks or longer. Applicants who applied for licensure by exam can expect their NCLEX results to take up to 10 business days. Applicants with a criminal history can expect their application review to take several more weeks.

Temporary Nurse License

MBN only issues temporary Minnesota nursing licenses to RNs licensed in another state applying for licensure by endorsement who don’t require direct supervision to practice. RNs may request temporary permits on their endorsement applications. If they meet the requirements, they can practice under the temporary license for up to 60 days or until MBN grants them their permanent Minnesota RN license by endorsement, whichever comes first. Temporary permits can’t be extended or renewed. To qualify, an RN must not have any disciplinary action or investigations pending, and they must:

  • Be licensed in another U.S. state or Canadian province by an MBN-accepted examination 

  • Submit evidence of licensure and current eligibility to practice nursing in another U.S. state or Canadian province

  • Have graduated from a nursing education program approved for RN licensure

MBN might revoke a temporary permit if an applicant for nurse licensure by endorsement presented false information about their licensure in another U.S. state or Canadian province. It may also revoke a permit if an applicant has engaged in conduct that would be grounds for denying a nursing license.


Minnesota RN Licensure Costs

All fees charged for Minnesota nursing licenses support MBN expenses. MBN members base these fees on the costs of providing services and maintaining BON activities. All fees are nonrefundable. Applicants applying and paying online must use a credit or debit card. Those preferring to download and mail paper applications must pay fees with a cashier’s check or money order made out to the Minnesota Board of Nursing. Current Minnesota RN licensure fees and related costs include:

  • Licensure Application by Endorsement/Examination: $105

  • Re-Examination Application: $60

  • RN Registration Renewal: $85

  • RN Reregistration: $105

  • Border State Registry: $50

  • Public Health Nurse Registration: $30

  • Replacement License Document: $20

  • RN License Verification (not through Nursys): $20

  • Criminal Background Check: $33.25

  • Verification of Examination Scores: $20

  • NCLEX-RN Fee (paid directly to Pearson VUE): $200

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Frequently asked questions

How do Minnesota RN licensure by exam applicants retake the NCLEX-RN if they fail the test?

Applicants who fail the NCLEX-RN must apply online to retake the test and reregister with Pearson VUE. Once they receive their new ATT by email, they schedule their exam. Applicants must submit an Examination Retake Request within eight months of their last failed attempt. If they don’t retake the exam within one year of their previous failed attempt, the application becomes void, and they must reapply with new fees. In addition, applicants who haven’t passed the NCLEX within five years of graduating from their nursing education program must complete a Review Course before retaking the NCLEX.

Does RN licensure renewal in Minnesota require continuing education?

Yes RN licensure renewal in Minnesota requires continuing education. RNs must complete at least 24 contact hours of continuing education every two years.

Is Minnesota a Nurse Licensure Compact state?

No Minnesota is not a Nurse Licensure Compact state.

Does Minnesota require fingerprinting for a background check?

Yes Minnesota requires fingerprinting for a background check.

How often do you need to renew your RN license in Minnesota?

You must renew your RN license in Minnesota every two years.