• Certifications and Licenses
  • RN - North Carolina

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


    The North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON) was founded in 1903 with the goal of maintaining a satisfactory level of competency within the nursing profession. The NCBON consists of 14 members with 11 elected by nurses holding valid North Carolina nursing licenses. The primary duties of the NCBON include issuing, renewing, and reinstating nursing licenses in the state. In April, nearly 15,000 registered nurses held active North Carolina RN licenses.


    Applicants for a North Carolina nursing license must apply online using the NC Board of Nursing Gateway. The Nurse Gateway allows applicants to submit and manage all their licensure applications, including initial nursing license applications and renewals. It’s also where they check their application status.


    RNs must meet all continuing competence requirements before renewal. NBON doesn’t grant grace periods or exceptions. To meet these requirements, RNs must complete/earn one of the following during each two-year licensure period:

    • 15 contact hours of continued education (CE) and 640 hours of active practice

    • National certification or recertification by a National Credentialing Body recognized by NBON

    • 30 contact hours of CE

    • A board-approved refresher course

    • A minimum of two semester hours of post-licensure academic education related to the practice of nursing

    • 15 contact hours of CE and a nursing project as principal investigator or co-investigator

    • 15 contact hours of CE and author/co-author a nursing-related paper, article, book, chapter of a book

    • 15 contact hours of CE and develop and conduct a nursing CE presentation(s) totaling at five contact hours

    It’s acceptable for RNs to take CE in conventional classroom settings or through online courses, independent study, correspondence, or professional journals. Acceptable CE providers include:

    • Any provider recognized by a national credentialing body

    • North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA)

    • Agencies in the NCNA Continuing Education Approver Unit (CEAU)

    • North Carolina Board of Nursing

    • Any State Board of Nursing

    • American Nurses Association

    • Any State Nurses Association

    • National Council of State Boards of Nursing

    • National League for Nursing

    • Area Health Education Centers in North Carolina

    • Any state AHEC that’s a member of the National AHEC Organization

    • National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service

    • National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses

    • Professional journals

    • Employer-sponsored CE programs with at least one course objective

    • Any provider of professional CE for healthcare professionals

    The Board simultaneously sends random audit notifications by U.S. mail with renewal notifications. RNs also receive random audit notices when they access their online renewal application. Nurses should only submit evidence of continuing competence if NCBON specifically notifies them to do so. Applicants with questions about CE requirements may email [email protected].


    Fingerprinting and Background Check Requirements

    All North Carolina nursing license applicants must undergo a fingerprint-based criminal history check through the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal history check per the North Carolina Nursing Practice Act. NCBON charges a $38 fee for Live Scan and the law enforcement agency that takes the fingerprints usually has a separate fee.

    North Carolina Residents:

    • Complete the Live Scan application on the Nurse Gateway

    • Follow instructions to have digital fingerprints electronically transmitted to the SBI/FBI

    • Most North Carolina Sheriff offices provide this service

    • Print and sign Live Scan Application forms

    • Electronic Fingerprint Submission Release of Information

    • Applicant Information

    • Take forms to local Sheriff office to have fingerprints taken and transmitted via Live Scan to the SBI

    After completion of Live Scan, applicants must submit their Electronic Fingerprint Submission Release of Information form.

    Postal Mail:

    Criminal Background Check North Carolina Board of Nursing PO Box 2129 Raleigh, NC 27602-2129

    Fax: (919) 781-9461 / Attn: CBC Coordinator

    Email: [email protected]

    NCBON can’t process applicant’s criminal background checks until it their signed and dated Electronic Fingerprint Submission Release of Information form. Live Scan results can take up to 6 weeks. NCBON posts results on the applicant’s Nurse Gateway portal.

    Out-of-State Residents:

    Applicants residing in another state or country receive fingerprint cards and instructions from NCBON through the mail about 10 days after they submit their application for licensure. They must contact their local law enforcement agency to complete fingerprinting, which only trained law enforcement personnel may perform.

    All criminal background checks remain valid for one year from the date NCBON receives the results. NCBON may deny licensure based on a criminal conviction only if it finds the applicant’s conviction directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of licensed nurse or the crime was violent or sexual in nature. Applicants may appeal licensure denials up to 30 days after receiving NCBON’s decision. Appeals must be filed with the superior court in the county where the applicant resides or the NCBON is located.

    Contact Information

    North Carolina Board of Nursing Office: 4516 Lake Boone Trail Mail: PO Box 2129 Raleigh, NC 27602-2129 (919) 782-3211


    On July 1, 2000, the NCBON enacted the original Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), allowing nurses to apply for multistate licenses and practice in other Compact states. It withdrew from the NLC and joined the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) on January 19, 2018. As with the original NLC, North Carolina RNs who practice in other Compact states under the eNLC must adhere to the nursing laws and regulations of the state in which the patient is located.

    Under the eNLC, RNs who hold a multistate nursing license issued by the NCBON can provide patient care in other Compact states without obtaining additional licenses. RNs who held a current North Carolina multistate license that was issued on or before July 20, 2017, under the original NLC were grandfathered into the eNLC. They aren’t required to take any further action unless they move to another state.

    New applicants of a North Carolina multistate nursing license must declare North Carolina as their primary state of residence (PSOR) and meet the 11 Uniform Licensure Requirements (ULRs). Applicants that don’t meet these requirements may still be eligible for a single-state nursing license valid in North Carolina only. RNs who previously declared North Carolina as their PSOR who move to another Compact state must meet the ULRs to obtain a multistate license in the new PSOR.

    Licensure by Endorsement

    Licensed nurses seeking North Carolina RN licensure by endorsement must submit:

    • An application through Nurse Gateway

    • Social Security numbers (SSN)

    • Name, location, and graduation year of their nursing school

    • A list of all U.S. Member Boards in which they’ve ever been licensed with license numbers and dates licenses were held

    • Verification of nurse licensure from original state of licensure and current state of licensure, if different

    • Fingerprints for a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal background check (CBC) conducted by the NCBON

    To request verification of original license and current license, most states participate in the Nursys online verification database. Applicants can submit a Request Verification for Nurse License Verification for Endorsement with a $30 fee per license type and state.

    For states that don’t participate in Nursys, applicants must:

    • Submit a Verification of Nurse Licensure form to the state or province of original licensure by exam to be completed and returned to the NCBON

    • Submit a Verification of Current Status form to be sent to the state or province in which the applicant is currently or were last employed, if different than the original state of licensure, to be completed and returned to the NCBON

    The initial licensure by endorsement application and CBC are held active for one year. If the applicant doesn’t complete the application process within this year, they must reapply and repay fees.

    Licensure by Exam

    Graduate nurses seeking initial RN licensure by exam must complete a member Board-approved RN education program. Applicants whose degrees haven’t been conferred yet should not order their final transcripts until after their degree has been conferred.

    In-State Graduates:

    • Program Directors of nursing education programs in North Carolina provide verification of graduation to the NCBON within 30 days of program completion

    Out-of-State Graduates:

    • Must provide a final official transcript with their legal name, degree awarded, and completion date

    • Active-in-program transcripts won’t be accepted

    • Official transcripts must be sent directly from the education institution or an approved transcript vendor

    • Email E-Scripts to [email protected]

    • Mail paper transcripts to NCBON, Exam Department, P.O. Box 2506, Raleigh, NC 27602-2506

    • No other forms or documents are required from the school

    Applicants seeking a multistate North Carolina nursing license must provide official proof of residence with their PSOR. Acceptable proof includes a copy of:

    • Current driver’s license

    • Voter registration

    • Federal income tax return

    • W2 from the U.S. government or any Agency, Bureau, or Division

    • Military Form No. 2058

    Proof of residency must be mailed to the NCBON office, faxed to (919) 781-9461, or emailed to [email protected]. A single-state license may be issued until applicants provide proof of North Carolina residency to the NCBON.

    Graduate nurses seeking a North Carolina RN license must pass an RN licensure exam. NCBON uses the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) prepared by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to measure graduate nurses’ competency to practice as entry-level RNs. NCSBN contracts with PearsonVUE to administer the NCLEX-RN. Applicants should register with PearsonVUE and pay the $200 exam fee at least two weeks before they complete their nursing education program.

    After NCBON receives a candidate’s completed application, verification of school program, and PearsonVUE registration, they should receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) via email from PearsonVUE within 10 days. The ATT contains instructions on scheduling the NCLEX. Applicants must provide their ATT letter and a photo ID to check in for their exam appointment. ATTs are valid for 180 days from the date of eligibility. Applicants who miss their NCLEX testing appointment or whose ATT expires must reregister and pay another fee to PearsonVUE to receive a new ATT to take the NCLEX.

    NCBON sends applicants their official NCLEX results in approximately four weeks after they take the exam. Applicants who fail the NCLEX may take it again after a 45-day waiting period. NCBON doesn’t restrict the number of times a candidate can take the NCLEX or require refresher courses. However, each time they retake the exam, they must submit a retest application and fee to NCBON and reregister with PearsonVUE and pay another exam fee to obtain a new ATT.

    All exam candidates also must submit fingerprints for a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal background check (CBC) conducted by NCBON.

    Applicants may check their application status on the Nurse Gateway. Their initial application and CBC are held active for one year from the date they’re made eligible to take the NCLEX. If an applicant doesn’t complete the application process within this year, they must reapply and repay fees.

    Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    Applicants for licensure by exam who were educated outside the U.S. and other member board jurisdictions have many of the same requirements as those educated in the U.S., but they have additional, non-negotiable requirements. Before issuance of a North Carolina nursing license can occur, they must submit:

    • Proof of a valid Social Security number

    • Documentation of education

    • Satisfactory score on an English proficiency exam

    • Satisfactory criminal background check

    • Passing score on the NCLEX

      • May be taken before submitting a valid SSN and CBC

    Foreign educated nurses shouldn’t send transcripts to the NCBON. All official transcripts must come from the education evaluation agency that provides the official evaluation. There are no exceptions for this requirement. Applicants must choose one of the following agencies:

    • International Education Evaluations (IEE)

    • Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS)

      • Complete a Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional Report, or provide a CGFNS Certificate or VisaScreen

    English proficiency testing is required for many internationally educated nurse applicants. Even if the applicant’s nursing courses were taught in English and/or used English textbooks, they must receive a minimum score on an approved English proficiency exam. Options include:

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

      • Written version overall score of 560, Computer-based test overall score of 220, Internet-based test overall score of 83

      • NCBON code: 3236

    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Version

      • Overall score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 on all modules

    An English proficiency exam expires two years after the date the applicant took the exam. The NCBON also accepts a CGFNS certificate or VisaScreen to meet the English proficiency examination. Applicants are exempt from the English proficiency requirement if they completed their entry-level professional nursing education program in the U.S., Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands. Nurses educated in Puerto Rico aren’t eligible for exemption.

    Copies of the education evaluation and/or English proficiency exam won’t be accepted from applicants. These must come directly from the official agencies.


    The overall timing of nurse license in North Carolina varies. However, exam candidates should receive their Authorization to Test (ATT) via email from PearsonVUE within 10 days of the NCBON receiving the candidate’s completed application, verification of school program, and verifications of PearsonVUE registration. Exam applicants receive their official results of the NCLEX-RN from NCBON about 4 weeks after taking the exam. Live Scan results of the criminal background check takes up to 6 weeks and NCBON posts the results on the applicant’s Nurse Gateway portal.

    Temporary Nurse License

    Temporary License for Exam Applicants

    NCBON offers Temporary Permits to Practice to graduate nurses who completed an approved nursing education program on or after March 10, 2020. Eligible graduates automatically receive their permit through email within 5 days of completing all requirements, which include:

    • Completing the NCBON online application for licensure by examination

    • Submitting payment of $38 for the criminal background check

    • Registering with and submitting $200 payment to PearsonVUE for the NCLEX-RN

    • Submitting nursing education verification

    Temporary permits are valid for 6 months and aren’t renewable. Permits are only valid for practicing nursing in North Carolina and automatically deactivate if an applicant fails the NCLEX-RN. Applicants who previously failed the NCLEX-RN aren’t eligible for a temporary permit.

    Temporary License for Endorsement Applicants

    Endorsement applicants may be eligible for a Temporary License that allows them to practice nursing in North Carolina only during the application process. Temporary licenses are valid for up to six months or until the applicant receives their permanent license, whichever comes first. NCBON will only issue a temporary license to an RN once in their lifetime. To be eligible for a temporary license:

    • Out-of-state applicants must mail their Criminal Background Check fingerprints, forms, and fee and NCBON must have received them

    • In-state applicants must submit the Live Scan Application online and NCBON must have received the Criminal Background Check results

    NCBON typically issues Temporary Licenses within 2 to 3 weeks of the application submission date.


    Applicants may pay with Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards. Third-party payments may be made by credit card or by business check with checks made out to the North Carolina Board of Nursing for domestic applicants. For foreign applicants, third-party payments may be made by credit card or by certified check or money order made out to the NCBON. All fees are nonrefundable. Current North Carolina nurse licensure fees include:

    • Licensure by Exam: $75

    • Retest Application: $75

    • NCLEX-RN (paid to PearsonVUE): $200

    • Licensure by Endorsement: $150

    • Live Scan Fingerprinting to NCBON: $38

    • North Carolina RN License Renewal: $100

    • Reinstatement of Lapsed RN License: $180

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    Frequently asked questions

    Do applicants have to live in North Carolina to apply for the NCLEX?

    North Carolina doesn’t require residency to take the NCLEX.

    If an applicant just had a criminal background check completed, do they still have to do another one for the NCBON?

    Yes, NCBON can’t use fingerprints submitted to other agencies to obtain criminal history records from the State Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Can applicants challenge the results of their criminal history record check?

    Yes, North Carolina allows applicants to review and challenge the results of their criminal history records check. For details on challenging criminal history records, contact these agencies directly:

    • North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at (919) 582-8660

    • Federal Bureau of Investigation at (304) 625-5590

    • Court Clerk in the arresting county