Montana RN Licensing Guide

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


The Montana Board of Nursing (BON) operates under the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI). It consists of nine members appointed by the Governor following a Senate confirmation. The BON writes and adopts administrative rules pertaining to nursing and continuously reviews these rules for needed changes to ensure its issuing Montana nursing licenses to qualified individuals. The state had nearly 20,000 registered nurses licensed in early 2022.


The practice of nursing in Montana is governed by the Montana BON’s Statutes and Administrative Rules. Applicants can apply online using the Montana DLI Portal or they may complete the appropriate paper application for a Montana RN license by endorsement or exam and submit it to the Montana DLI. Incomplete applications expire 12 months from the date the Montana BON receives them.


All Montana RN licenses expire on December 31 every two years. The BON mails Montana RN license renewal notices 45 days before an RN’s license expires to the address of record. Biennial licensing periods begin on January 1 of the starting year and end on December 31 of the ending year. Half of Montana RN licenses expire in even-numbered years and the other half expire in odd-numbered years. Nurses are responsible for knowing when their licenses expire.

Continuing Education Requirements

All RNs must maintain proof of 24 continuing education (CE) credits for each two-year licensing period. The only exception are nurses who weren’t licensed for the full 24 months. They must have one contact hour of CE for each month they hold a license during a renewal cycle.

RNs don’t need proof of CE completion when they submit their Montana RN license renewals. They must maintain records of the contact hours they’ve obtained because the BON completes random audits after each renewal period to ensure CE requirement compliance. If chosen, RNs must be able to provide proof of compliance. Nurses should maintain records of the CE contact hours they’ve obtained for two years after the renewal for which they earned the credits.


Fingerprinting Requirements

Applicants for a Montana RN license must submit to a fingerprint background check as part of the application process. The Montana Department of Justice (MDOJ) processes background checks for the Montana BON. Applicants must first submit their nurse licensure application and application fee either online or using a paper application. Within their application is an Applicants Rights & Consent to Fingerprint Notice that must be signed so the Montana BON can receive and review background check results. Applications submitted without this form or returned with this form unsigned may be discarded.

Applicants must have their fingerprints captured so the MDOJ may run their background check. They may have their fingerprints captured one of two ways.

Option 1: MDOJ Division of Criminal Investigations Criminal Records

Option 2: Participating local law enforcement agency

  • Contact in advance to determine if they supply appropriate Fingerprint Cards Form FD258 or applicants must obtain two fingerprint cards from MDOJ before appointment

  • Mail two completed fingerprint cards with a check or money order for $30 payable to the “Montana Department of Justice” to:

    • Montana Criminal Records, PO Box 201403, Helena, MT 59620

  • Don’t fold or staple fingerprint cards

  • Don’t upload fingerprint cards to online Montana DLI account

  • Estimated 4 to 8 weeks to send results

Applicants may be charged a fee for capturing their fingerprints in addition to the processing fee paid to MDOJ for running the background check. During fingerprinting, applicants must: 

  • Provide the fingerprint technician with a government-issued photo ID to prove their identity

  • Provide the fingerprint technician with a copy of the Fingerprint Card Example contained in the Montana RN licensure application packet, which contains information unique to nurse licensure

  • Fill out all fields correctly to ensure acceptance by the MDOJ

  • Request the fingerprint technician to capture fingerprints twice and create two distinct fingerprint cards

The Montana BON notifies applicants if MDOJ rejects their fingerprints cards as unreadable or their cards were incomplete or weren’t accompanied by the processing fee. The BON conducts a name-based search if an applicant’s fingerprint cards are rejected as unreadable a second time. Name-based searches result in additional processing time.

Once a background check results in an Identity History Summary, the BON receives the results. The BON notifies applicants if there’s a conviction(s) that requires its review. Applicants who don’t complete their applications within six months of the Montana BON receiving their background check results must resubmit their fingerprints to obtain current background check results.

Contact Information

Montana Board of Nursing
301 South Park Avenue, 4th Floor
PO Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513
[email protected]
(406) 444-6880


Montana joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) on October 1, 2015, all unencumbered Montana RN licensees with Montana as their primary state of residence (PSOR) to be eligible for a multistate license. Montana withdrew from the original NLC and joined the enhanced NLC on January 19, 2018.

Prospective RNs in Montana may apply for a multistate/Compact license if Montana is their PSOR. This mutual recognition model of nurse licensure allows RNs with a multistate Montana nursing license to practice in all NLC states without having individual licenses in each one. The NLC requires RNs to adhere to the practice laws and rules of the state in which they’re delivering direct patient care or care via telehealth.

RNs who permanently change PSORs must complete a new nursing application with the new PSOR. If this state is a Compact state, they may practice under their previous multistate license while the new state processes their application for licensure. However, if the new state isn’t a Compact state, RNs must obtain licensure in that state before beginning practice. Nurses who currently hold an RN license with multistate privileges in any Compact state don’t need a Montana RN license to practice.

Applicants applying for a multistate nursing license in Montana must meet the uniform licensure requirements, which include:

  • Meeting the requirements for licensure in the home state

  • Graduating from a board-approved education program or international education program approved by the authorizing accrediting body within the country of matriculation

  • Passing an English proficiency exam if English isn’t the applicant’s native language

  • Passing the NCLEX

  • Holding an active unencumbered license or being eligible for licensure

  • Submitting fingerprints for state and federal background checks

  • Not having any state or federal felony convictions of any kind or misdemeanor convictions related to nursing

  • Having a valid U.S. Social Security number

  • Self-disclosing current participation in an alternative program

  • Not being a current participant in an alternative program

Licensure by Endorsement

Applicants licensed in a non-Compact state or in a Compact state but don’t hold multistate privileges may apply for Montana RN licensure by credentialing, also known as endorsement. They must apply online or complete a paper Application for Licensure by Credentialing. Endorsement applicants must also:

  • Send a Request for Official Verification of Licensure ( form to the State Boards of Nursing that issued their original license, current license, and all licenses held, regardless of status

  • Request licensure verifications be sent from any state agency that issued them any professional licenses or certifications, such as CNA or EMT credentials

    • Verifications from State BONs that participate in Nursys ( may be obtained online

    • State BONs that don’t participate in Nursys ( and non-nursing agencies must submit the official verification form to the Montana BON

    • Photocopies of licenses don’t qualify as official verification

    • All licenses or certifications held in Montana must be reported but verifications don’t need to be requested

  • Contact the Montana BON office for further instructions if the verification from the original state of licensure doesn’t include proof of nursing education

  • Submit fingerprints to the Montana Department of Justice to complete a background check

  • Include a detailed explanation of the event(s) and documentation from the source regarding any discipline questions answered “Yes”

Licensure by Exam

Graduate nurses seeking their first Montana RN license by exam and taking the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) for the first time must apply for licensure by exam. Applicants must have completed all nurse education requirements of a Montana BON-approved nursing education program before applying for licensure. They must apply online or complete a paper Application for Licensure by Exam. Applicants must also:

  • Request nursing school to send official transcripts showing degree awarded and date conferred directly to the Montana BON

    • Electronic transcripts by sent to [email protected]

    • Original transcripts may be mailed from the nursing school

  • Request licensure verifications be sent from any State BON or other state agency that issued them any professional licenses or certifications, if applicable

    • Include all active or expired, used or unused licenses or certifications

    • Photocopies of licenses don’t qualify as official verification

  • Submit fingerprints to the Montana Department of Justice to complete a background check

  • Include a detailed explanation of the event(s) and documentation from the source regarding any discipline questions answered “Yes”

Applicants must register with PearsonVUE to take the NCLEX-RN. Once the Montana BON receives their application and all supporting documentation, it makes applicants eligible to test. PearsonVUE sends applicants an Authorization to Test (ATT) notification. The BON receives applicants’ test results from PearsonVUE and issues a Montana nursing license to those with passing scores. Applicants should allow 10 to 14 days to receive their NCLEX results.

Applicants with failing scores on the NCLEX receive a Candidate Performance Report and must retake the NCLEX after waiting 45 days. To reapply, they must submit an Application to Retake the NCLEX Exam and pay the $50 retake fee. They must also reregister with PearsonVUE and pay a new $200 exam fee.

Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

Internationally educated applicants must complete all standard application requirements. If they don’t hold an RN license in another U.S. state, they must submit a credential evaluation service report. Currently, the Montana BON is only accepting credential evaluations from:

  • Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS)

  • Josef Silny & Associates, Inc. (JS&A)

The Montana BON must receive the results of the credentials review or verification from another State BON that the international RN education program was equivalent to the RN education programs in the U.S. or it can’t process an internationally educated nurse’s application for licensure.


Applicants should expect 30 business days from the date the Montana BON office receives their Montana nursing license application and all required documentation for processing a routine application. Nonroutine applications may result in a delay in processing. For a timely review, the BON must receive the applicant’s application and all supporting documentation 15 days before a scheduled Board meeting for review. BON members may request additional information from an applicant or may request them to be available by phone or in person during a regularly scheduled Board meeting. Applicants may view their licensure status on the Montana DLI License Search portal and confirm their licensure within 24 hours of license issuance on Nursys QuickConfirm.

Temporary Nurse License

Graduate nurses may apply for temporary permits when they submit their applications for a Montana RN license by exam. They must complete a separate temporary permit application, pay an additional $25 fee, and register with PearsonVUE to take the NCLEX-RN. Temporary licenses are valid for 90 days and won’t be renewed or reissued. Temporary permit holders must be directly supervised by a licensed RN. Temporary permits become null three days after the BON mails the applicant notification that they’ve failed the NCLEX and the temporary permit holder must immediately return the permit to the BON office upon receipt of this notice. Not all licensure applicants qualify for a temporary permit.


Applicants applying and paying online may pay fees with a credit or e-check. Applicants mailing a paper application to the Montana BON must pay by check, cashier’s check, or money order made payable to the Montana Board of Nursing. Payment must be enclosed with the application. All application fees are nonrefundable. Submitting an application and fees doesn’t ensure nurse licensure. Current Montana nursing license fees and related costs include:

  • Licensure by Credentialing/Endorsement: $200

  • Licensure by Examination: $100

  • Retake NCLEX: $50

  • NCLEX-RN Fee (Payable to PearsonVUE): $200

  • Temporary Permit: $25

  • Criminal Background Check: $30

  • Montana RN License Renewal: $100

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Frequently asked questions

Do new graduate nurses need to have contact hours when they renew the first time?

Yes, new graduate nurses need contact hours, but contact hours are prorated. New RNs must have one contact hour for each month they were licensed in the initial licensure period. Thus, if their first license was only issued for 12 months, they only need 12 contact hours, not the standard 24 hours required for renewal.

Does the Montana Board of Nursing require RNs to supply their employers with a copy of their Montana nursing license?

No, the Montana Board of Nursing doesn’t require RNs to have a copy of their license on file with their employer. The Board actually discourages this practice as official verification of RN licensure should come from the Board’s online verification system either through the Montana Licensee Lookup system at or the national system through Nursys QuickConfirm at

Are telephonic nurses required to have a Montana nursing license?

Yes, anytime an RN provides nursing services to patients residing in Montana, either in person or via telehealth, they’re required to have an active Montana nursing license or a multistate privilege to practice in Montana.

What should an RN do if they forgot to renew their Montana nursing license?

Montana RNs may renew their licenses up to two years after their expiration date, but they’re charged a late fee. They may apply for renewal online or by mailing a paper application. If their license expired more than two years ago, they must reapply for licensure.