• Certifications and Licenses
  • RN - Tennessee

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


    The Tennessee Board of Nursing (TN BON) was created in 1911 through an act of the State Legislature signed into law by the Governor. TN BON’s mission is to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Tennessee by requiring individuals practicing nursing in the state to be qualified and licensed to practice. More than 110,700 registered nurses held Tennessee nursing licenses in April 2022.


    The Tennessee Department of Health’s Licensure and Regulatory System (LARS) puts Tennessee RN license applications online. Applicants can submit their licensure applications and upload documents required to complete their applications to make the process quicker and easier.


    Once licensed, nurses must submit a Tennessee RN license renewal every two years. The administrative office mails renewal notices 45 days before the license expires to the address on file. It’s the licensee’s responsibility for renewing on time and keeping their information current with the Board. Licensees may submit their Tennessee RN license renewal online up to 60 days before their license expires. RN licenses expire on the last day of the licensee’s birthday month.

    Continuing Education Requirements

    Tennessee doesn’t require continuing education (CE) to maintain or renew an RN license. However, it does have continuing competence requirements for each biennial renewal cycle and CE is one of 15 options to fulfill this requirement. Licensees must complete two items from the following list during each licensure period: 

    • Copy of a contract of renewal or reappointment to a nursing position

    • Copy of a satisfactory employer evaluation

    • Written self-evaluation based on the standards of competence in the nursing rules

    • Letter from a peer containing a satisfactory evaluation of the licensee’s nursing performance

    • Letter from a patient/family member providing evidence of a satisfactory nurse/patient relationship

    • Letter from an agency where the licensee volunteer as a nurse

    • Document identifying two nursing goals and how the licensee met these goals

    • Documentation from a nursing school stating the licensee participated in educating nursing students

    • Certificate or other evidence of 5 contact hours of CE or 10 contact hours of CE for licensees not practicing nursing

    • Letter of completion of a TN BON-approved nursing refresher course

    • Letter of completion of a comprehensive nursing orientation program

    • Official transcript demonstrating two hours of nursing credit

    • Evidence of current national certification

    • Copy of published nursing-related article written by the licensee

    • Proof of retaking the NCLEX

    Licensees must maintain evidence of their compliance of continuing competency requirements for four years from the date of completion. TN BON conducts audits of continuing competence each month. If requested by TN BON staff, licensees must produce their evidence of compliance within 30 days of a written request. Failure to complete required continuing competence activities or falsely certifying compliance may result in disciplinary action against the nurse’s license.


    All applicants applying for initial licensure in Tennessee must obtain a fingerprint-based criminal background check (CBC) through IdentoGO, the state’s selected vendor. IdentoGO uses submitted fingerprints to check the applicant’s criminal history records with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Applicants must register with IdentoGO to start the process. Once registered, they must have their prints scanned within two weeks or they will be required to re-register and pay the $35.15 processing fee again.

    Applicants Living in Tennessee:

    • Make an appointment with IdentoGO for digital fingerprinting

    • Pay for fingerprinting session onsite on day of appointment

    • IdentoGO captures fingerprints through Live Scan

    • Fingerprints are checked against criminal history records with TBI and FBI

    • IdentoGO sends the CBC report to TN BON for evaluation

    Applicants Living Outside of Tennessee:

    • Applicants outside of Tennessee or unable to visit an IdentoGO location utilize Cardscan processing

    • Pre-enroll for Cardscan submission on Tennessee’s section of IdentoGO

    • Pay processing fee during pre-enrollment

    • Print pre-enrollment confirmation page following registration completion

    • Sign the completed pre-enrollment confirmation page

    • Obtain a set of fingerprints from a local law enforcement or other agency that provides fingerprinting services

      • Fingerprints may be ink rolled on an FBI Form FD-258 or captured through Live Scan then printed on an FBI Form FD-258

    • Fill out fingerprint cards completely and legibly

    • Mail the completed fingerprint card and signed pre-enrollment confirmation page to TN BON

    Fingerprint cards received with a completed, signed pre-enrollment form won’t be processed. They will be returned to the applicant for completion and re-submission, which slows the application process.

    Contact Information

    Tennessee Board of Nursing 665 Mainstream Drive, 2nd Floor Nashville, TN 37243 [email protected] (800) 778-4123


    In 2003, Tennessee became a member of the original Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The state transitioned to the enhanced NLC on January 19, 2018. Resident RNs who declare Tennessee as their primary state of residence (PSOR) can apply for a multistate license that allows them to work in other Compact states. RNs who declare another Compact state as their PSOR aren’t eligible for a Tennessee multistate license. TN BON places their applications on hold until they declare Tennessee as their PSOR.

    Licensure by Endorsement

    Applicant’s licensed in non-Compact states or who are ineligible for a multistate license may apply for a Tennessee RN license by endorsement. To qualify, applicants must have graduated from an approved nursing school and be licensed by written exam. TN BON accepts the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) or the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE) if the applicant’s score is equal to or higher than the lowest passing score required by the Board. To apply, applicants must:

    • Complete the online application and submit the $115 application fee

    • Request verification of licensure form the state in which they were originally licensed

      • Most states use the Nursys online portal for licensure verification

      • For those states that don’t participate in Nursys, as the licensing board to complete and mail the Request for Verification of License form to TN BON

    • Upload a passport type photo that’s no more than 6 months old

      • Sign and date the front without concealing the face

    • Upload a copy of their nursing diploma or transcript from their initial nursing education

      • Copies of Internet transcripts aren’t accepted

      • They also may request the educational institution to mail official transcripts directly to TN BON

    • Upload a completed, signed, and notarized Declaration of Citizen Form with proof of citizenship documentation

    • Complete a criminal background check as required

    • Obtain and upload documents relative to criminal convictions and a letter of explanation, if applicable

    Licensure by Exam

    Applicants who have never been licensed and need to be made eligible to take the NCLEX-RN to become licensed must submit an application for Tennessee nursing licensure by exam and all relevant documents. TN BON must verify all documents. Overall processing time may take up to six weeks from the date of the applicant’s graduation and receipt of their official transcript from the nursing school and all other required documents. Applicants can potentially shorten time to licensure by starting the process early. 

    • 6 weeks before graduation:

      • Complete the fingerprint-based criminal background check

      • If applicant has a criminal history, they may have to upload certified copies of arresting document, judgment, and completion of judgment

    • 4 weeks before graduation:

      • Apply online for Tennessee nursing licensure by exam

      • Upload all required documents in PDF format

      • Current passport-style photography, signed and dated without covering the face

      • Completed, signed, and notarized Declaration of Citizenship form

      • Proof of citizenship

    • 2 weeks before graduation:

      • Register and pay for the NCLEX-RN through PearsonVUE

    • After degree is conferred:

      • Request official transcript

      • Transcript must be sent directly to TN BON from the nursing school

    TN BON notifies applicants of any deficiencies by email, which delays the application process. The Board makes applicants eligible for taking the NCLEX-RN and they receive the Authorization to Test (ATT) from PearsonVUE by email. Applicants schedule their NCLEX and TN BON issues their permanent license if they pass.

    Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    International graduates must complete the same steps as domestic graduates and complete the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Certification Program. Upon completion, they must request the CGFNS to send a copy of their certificate directly to TN BON.


    Applications for Tennessee nursing licenses take about six weeks for processing. The clock on a licensure by exam application doesn’t begin until after the applicant’s graduation and TN BON receives their official transcript and other required documents.

    Temporary Nurse License

    The board may issue a temporary permit to an RN duly licensed according to the laws of another state and who has submitted an application for permanent licensure in Tennessee. Temporary permits issued to endorsement candidates are valid for six months and aren’t renewable. 

    Graduate nurses also may engage in the professional nursing practice before permanent licensure for up to 120 days from the date they receive their first authorization to take the NCLEX-RN. To qualify, they must: 

    • Practice in a healthcare institution licensed under title 33 or 68, or an affiliate of the institution

    • Always work under the supervision of a licensed RN limited to supervising only one graduate nurse at a time

    • Provide proof of their graduation from an approved nursing school within the past 90 days and their first authorization to take the NCLEX-RN to the healthcare institution in which they’re practicing


    Applicants for Tennessee nursing licenses must use a credit card, debit card, or e-check when paying application fees online. Current fees for nurse licensure and related costs include:

    • Licensure by Exam and Exam Retake Fees: Eliminated 8/5/2019

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

    • Criminal Background Check (Paid to IdentoGO): $35.15

    • Licensure by Endorsement: $115

    • Tennessee RN License Renewal: $100

    • License Reinstatement: $200

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    Frequently asked questions

    Should applicants for a Tennessee RN license renewal upload proof of continuing competence during the application process?

    No, nurses applying for a Tennessee RN license renewal shouldn’t supply proof of continuing competence unless the Board audits them. TN BON conducts audits each month. If selected, licensees must produce written evidence of compliance within 30 days.