Texas RN Licensing Guide

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

Overview

The Texas Board of Nursing (TBON) has served the public for over 100 years following its establishment in 1909. It regulates the safe practice of nursing and governs nursing licenses in Texas. Nearly 370,750 registered nurses held a Texas nursing license in May 2022. TBON also provides approval for over 200 nursing education programs and provides nursing education and practice guidance to RNs currently licensed and practicing in the state. It enforces the Nursing Practice Act and Rules and Regulations by setting minimum nursing education and practice standards.

About

TBON stopped taking paper applications for Texas nursing licenses on May 29, 2020, and fully transitioned to an online application system on June 15, 2020. The online Texas Nurse Portal allows applicants to apply for multistate conversion and nurse licensure by examination, endorsement, or renewal; and make name, address, email, and employment information changes. However, applicants who graduated from a nursing education program outside the U.S. and don't have a Social Security number must apply using a paper application.

Renewal

TBON sends a license renewal notice at least 30 days before an RN's license expires. Licensees should ensure their address and other contact information on file with TBON are correct to timely receive their Texas RN license renewal notices. RNs can't renew more than two months before the expiration date of their current Texas nursing license.

Nurses must submit an application for Texas RN license renewal every two years, with the exception of their first renewal. An applicant's initial license may be valid for 6 to 29 months based on their birth month and year and the issue date of their initial license to align with future licensure periods. Subsequent licensure periods will last two years, with the expiration date falling on the last day of the nurse's birth month in odd-numbered years for those born in an odd-numbered year and in even-numbered years for those born in an even-numbered year.

When renewing, applicants must sign a statement attesting that they've completed their continued competency requirements. they must also report any criminal behavior, including any pending charges and adjudicated or probationary action. Nurses who don't renew before their expiration date results in having their license go into delinquent status.

  • If the license remains delinquent for four years or less, they may reactivate their license by proving they've meet continuing competency requirements within the two years immediately preceding their application for relicensure and by meeting all other Board requirements.

  • If it's been longer than four years, they must complete a refresher course, extensive orientation, or a Board-approved program of study. They must also complete the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Exam and evidence of completion of 20 contact hours of acceptable continuing education in the two years immediately preceding their reactivation application.

Nurses must renew online, unless their license has expired. They must download a paper form when renewing an expired license. Licensees are also ineligible to renew online if they:

  • Have defaulted on a Texas guaranteed student loan

  • Haven't meet the mandatory continuing nursing education (CNE) requirement

  • Have been selected for a CNE audit

  • Have been selected for a criminal background check and the process hasn't been completed

  • Have declared a state besides Texas as their primary state of residence

  • Have entered a license number and/or last four digits of a Social Security Number that don't match the information on file

Continuing Education Requirements

To submit an application for Texas RN license renewal, licensees must have completed 20 contact hours of continuing nursing education within the two years immediately preceding their renewal application or earned or renewed an approved national nursing certification in the applicant's area of nursing practice. Additional CNE requirements include:

  • All nurses must complete a minimum of 2 CNE hours related to nursing jurisprudence and nursing ethics before the end of every third licensing period.

    • This counts toward their 20 CNE requirement and must be fulfilled even if they've earned a national nursing certification.

  • Any nurse who treats older adults or geriatric populations must complete a minimum of 2 CNE hours related to this patient population during every licensing period.

  • All nurses who provide direct patient care must complete a human trafficking prevention course approved by the Executive Director of Texas Health and Human Services Commission every licensing period.

    • CNE hours earned for this requirement count towards the RN's required 20 CNE hours.

  • Any nurse employed in an emergency room setting must complete a minimum of 2 CNE hours relevant to forensic evidence collection and age-specific or population-specific nursing interventions.

    • This is a one-time requirement required within two years of the initial date an RN becomes employed in an ER setting.

CNE programs must be approved by a BON-recognized credentialing agency or an affiliated entity. These include:

Nurses must maintain proof of CNE completion for six years. Licensee's may use academic education courses that are part of a curriculum that leads to nursing degree or directly relevant to their area of nursing practice to meet CNE requirements. Proof of completion include an official transcript with either a grade of C or better or a Pass designation in a pass/fail grading system.

RNs are exempt from most CNE requirements for their first renewal following initial licensure if they submit their initial renewal on time. The only exception is the Forensic Evidence Collection targeted CNE requirement, if applicable to the nurse's practice role.

TBON will select some nurses to be audited for compliance with CNE requirements or a criminal background check. They must submit proof of CNE to the TBON office and the criminal background check must be completed before TBON will renew their license.

Requirements

Nursing Jurisprudence Examination

All applicants must pass the Texas nursing jurisprudence examination (NJE) before being issued a permanent Texas RN license. The NJE must be taken online and consists of 50 questions. Applicants must answer 75% of these questions correctly to be marked as passing the exam. This works out to a minimum of 38 correct answers for a passing grade. Applicants must complete the exam within two hours or they're marked as failing the exam. If an applicant fails the exam, they must take it again after at least 24 hours have passed. The NJE is an "open book" test, meaning applicants can access the TBON website and other resources to locate the answers. The fee for this exam shall not exceed $25.

Fingerprinting Requirements

All applicants for a Texas RN license by endorsement or exam must complete a criminal background check. Applicants must submit fingerprints to be used to check criminal history records of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The TXDPS contracts exclusively with MorphoTrust to provide statewide electronic fingerprinting for criminal background checks.

TBON can't accept fingerprint cards or criminal background check results mailed by the applicant or results completed for another facility, even if the previous check was completed through the Texas DPS and the FBI. Applicants must submit their fingerprints to MorphoTrust 10 business days after TBON has received their Texas nursing license application.

Texas Residents

  • Schedule an appointment to be electronically fingerprinted by MorphoTrust at one of their IdentoGo enrollment centers online or call 1-888-467-2080.

    • Scheduling an appointment online is the quickest route

    • When scheduling over the phone, MorhphoTrust will prompt the applicant for the Service Code (119TF2) found on the Texas Fingerprint Service Code form

    • Applicants aren't required to bring the Texas Fingerprint Service Code form to their appointment

  • Applicants must bring a photo ID and fingerprinting fee, if not paid online, to their appointment

  • A MorphoTrust agent takes the applicant's fingerprints and submits them electronically to the TXDPS and the FBI

  • Applicants won't receive a printed fingerprint card

  • Applicants receive an IdentoGO receipt as proof they were fingerprinted

  • Applicants may check the status of their submission online

Applicants Outside Texas

  • Complete a FAST Pass Form, following the instructions for "Applicant Residing Outside of Texas"

  • Pre-enroll with MorphoTrust to submit fingerprint cards

    • Internet-based pre-enrollment is the quickest way to submit fingerprint cards

    • Schedule an appointment online

    • Click on “Pay for Ink Card Submission”

    • Complete all required fields on the following page

    • Complete the payment screen

    • Print the MorphoTrust Pre-Enrollment Confirmation document containing a bar code

    • Sign the waiver and complete contact information

  • Submit a Request for Board of Nursing - Fingerprint Card

  • Have fingerprints captured on the supplied fingerprint card by a criminal law enforcement agency only

    • Include the Texas Board of Nursing ORI – TX920440Z

  • Follow the mail-in directions found on the MorphoTrust Pre-Enrollment Confirmation document

  • Wait for a receipt from MorphoTrust

  • Applicants may check the status of their submission online

The current $41.95 fee for fingerprinting includes the cost for obtaining State and National Criminal History Record Information. Applicants may pay fingerprinting fees online with a credit card or onsite when having their fingerprints taken with a credit card or a business check or money order made payable to MorphoTrust USA. Personal checks and cash aren't accepted.

Contact Information

Texas Board of Nursing
William P. Hobby Building
333 Guadalupe, Suite 3-460
Austin, TX 78701-3944
[email protected]
(512) 305-7400

Multistate

The Texas Legislature adopted the original Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which was signed into law by the Governor on June 19, 1999. It become effective on January 1, 2000. The state withdrew from the original NLC and joined the Enhanced NLC on January 19, 2018. On January 20, 2018, Texas RNs holding an original NLC multistate license were grandfathered into the eNLC and weren't required to take any further action.

Nurses with a Compact/multistate license may physically, telephonically, or electronically practice across state lines in other Compact states. To be eligible for a Texas Compact License, a nurse must:

  • Legally reside in Texas

  • Hold an active Texas RN license without current disciplinary action

  • Declare Texas as their primary state of residence

  • Meet Texas licensure requirements

They must also meet the Uniform Licensure Requirements for a Multistate License. To be eligible for a Texas multistate license, RNs must:

  • Meet all Texas nursing licensure requirements

  • Have a valid U.S. Social Security number

  • Graduate from a TXBON-approved nursing education program

  • Pass an English proficiency test if English isn’t the applicant’s native language

  • Pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) or predecessor exam

  • Hold or be eligible for an active, unencumbered Texas nursing license

  • Submit fingerprints for state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks

  • Not have any federal felony convictions

  • Not have any misdemeanor convictions related to nursing

  • Not be currently participating in an alternative program (impaired provider program)

  • Self-disclose participation in an alternative program

Licensure by Endorsement

RNs licensed in another state may apply for a Texas nursing license by endorsement and obtain a non-renewable temporary license valid for 120 days and/or a permanent license for endorsement. To qualify they must have practiced in another state or passed their NCLEX-RN in another state within the four years immediately preceding their application for licensure by endorsement. They also must have:

  • Graduated from an approved nursing education program

  • Passed a nurse licensure exam with a TBON-established minimum score

    • 350 on each of the five parts of the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE), prior to July 1982

    • Minimum of 1600 on NCLEX-RN, prior to February 1989

    • Passing score on NCLEX-RN, after February 1989

    • Passing score on the Canadian NCLEX-RN, after January 2015 for Canadian applicants

  • Been issued licensure from another U.S. jurisdiction or from a Canadian province by NCLEX-RN

To apply for licensure by endorsement, nurses must:

  • Complete nurse endorsement application online

  • Complete an attestation that the applicant meets current Texas licensure requirements and has never had disciplinary action taken by any licensing authority or jurisdiction

  • Submit the nonrefundable application fee

  • Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check

  • Achieve a passing score on the Nurse Jurisprudence Exam

  • Submit verifications of all licenses held in any U.S. states or territories, provinces, and/or countries

    • TBON must receive verifications of all licenses ever held even if the license was never used or is currently inactive, invalid, or delinquent

    • Submit electronic verification using the national Nursys database for those states that participate

    • Send a Verification of Registered/Professional Nurse Licensure Form to those states that don't participate and agencies outside the U.S.

    • Paper verifications must be sent directly to TBON form the licensing agency

Applicants who haven't practiced nursing in another state within the four years immediately preceding their application for licensure by endorsement must first complete a refresher course or extensive orientation.

Nurses who've ever previously held a Texas nursing license aren't eligible to apply by endorsement. They must either renew or reactive their previous Texas RN license.

Licensure by Exam

Graduate nurses must apply for Texas nursing licensure by exam. All exam applicants must complete the following steps:

  • Review the Licensure Eligibility section to ensure they're eligible to apply online

    • If applicant has any "Yes" answers, they must apply using a paper application

  • Complete a nurse licensure by exam application online

  • Submit verification of completion of all requirements for graduation from a TBON-approved nursing education program or an out-of-state nursing education program with substantially equivalent education standards to a TBON-approved nursing program

    • Education programs completed outside of Texas also require an official transcript

  • Register with Pearson VUE 30 days before graduation to take the NCLEX-RN

  • Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check

    • Student applicants must contact their nursing program instead of following the regular fingerprinting process

  • Pass the Texas nursing jurisprudence examination

    • Must occur being issued an authorization to test (ATT) for the NCLEX by Pearson VUE

  • Submit an affidavit of graduation

    • Texas nursing school automatically complete an online affidavit for graduates

    • Graduate of programs outside Texas must print the affidavit of graduation and the nursing school's dean or director to complete and mail it directly to TBON

  • Schedule NCLEX-RN after receiving ATT from Pearson VUE

    • ATTs are valid for 75 days from the ATT start date

    • TBON receives NCLEX results from Pearson VUE within 5 business days of applicant taking the exam

Applicants eligible for a graduate nurse permit will see this permit posted online within 5 business days of being made eligible to take the NCLEX. Upon passing the NCLEX-RN, TBON issues the applicant their permanent license. Applicants may access their license by using the online verification and print this verification as proof of licensure. Applicants who fail the NCLEX receive a diagnostic profile providing feedback on their exam performance and must retake the exam.

Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

Applications for licensure from foreign-educated nurses must follow the same licensing steps as domestic-educated nurses, but they have additional steps they must complete. A foreign-educated registered nurse applicant must have completed an approved program for educating registered nurses or practiced as a first level general nurse and completed an approved nursing program within the four years immediately preceding submitting an application for initial licensure in Texas.

They must provide a full education course-by-course report from a credential evaluation service (CES) approved by TBON. The CES report must be dated within one year of issuance by the certification organization. Approved organizations include:

  • Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS)

  • The Educational Records Evaluation Service, Inc. (ERES)

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

International applicants must also submit Verification of Licensure (VOL) forms from all countries, states, provinces, and/or territories where they hold or have held a license. VOLs must come directly from the licensing authority and bear the authority’s official seal. VOLs are only valid for one year after it's signed and sealed by the licensing authority. The CES full education course-by-course report will contain the VOL from the nurse's original country of licensure.

Foreign educated nurses whose nursing programs weren't conducted in English must provide proof of passing an English Proficiency exam. TBON accepts:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a passing score of 560 paper-based or 220 computer-based

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) with a minimum passing score of 83

  • Test of Spoken English (TSE) with a minimum score of 50 and the Test of Written English (TWE) with a minimum score of 4.0 (retired)

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.5 and a minimum of 6.0 in each of the four modules

  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) with an overall score of 55 and a minimum of 50 in each of the four modules

International candidates must also:

  • Submit a paper nurse licensure application

  • Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check

  • Pass the nurse jurisprudence exam

  • Pass the NCLEX-RN

The eligibility date for the NCLEX is the issuance date for the initial Authorization to Test (ATT). If the candidate hasn't worked as a first-level general nurse for at least two of the four preceding years, they must take a Foreign Educated Nurse refresher course. However, they must pass the NCLEX first.

Timing

TBON reviews application within 15 business days of receiving the last item required to complete an application packet.

Temporary Nurse License

Graduate nurses who complete an approved nursing education program within the U.S., its territories, or possessions and applies for initial licensure by examination in Texas may be temporarily authorized to practice as a graduate nurse (GN) pending the results of the NCLEX-RN. To receive temporary authorization to practice, applicants of a Texas RN license by exam must:

  • Submit completed application

  • Not have any outstanding eligibility issues

  • Not have ever taken the NCLEX-RN

  • Have registered to take the NCLEX-RN

Temporary permits are valid for six months and can't be renewed. Graduate nurses must practice under the direct supervision of a licensed RN. Applicants who've already taken and failed the NCLEX-RN won't be granted temporary authorization to practice.

TBON may also issue a temporary permit to nurses who haven't practiced nursing for four or more years for the limited purpose of completing a refresher course or extensive orientation.

Fees

All fees are nonrefundable. Current Texas RN licensure fees include:

  • Licensure by Exam: $75

  • Licensure by Endorsement: $150

  • Nursing Jurisprudence Exam: not to exceed $25

  • Texas RN License Renewal: $68

  • Late Fee (less than 90 days): $60+Renewal Fee

  • Late Fee (more than 90 days): $120+Renewal Fee

  • Reactivating from Inactive Status (less than 4 years): $10+Renewal Fee

  • Reactivating from Inactive Status (more than 4 years): $20+Renewal Fee

  • Fingerprinting (Paid to IdentoGO): $41.95

  • NCLEX-RN (Paid to Pearson VUE): $200

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Frequently asked questions

What are the requirements to declare a state as my home state of residency for Compact privileges?

If you live in a Compact state, you must have at least one of the following to declare that state your home state of residency:

  • A driver's license issued by that state

  • An address from the state where you hold a voter's registration

  • An address in the state where you file your federal income taxes

However, you can't assume you have multistate privileges just because you have one or more of the items above. Most Compact states also require some type of formal declaration. In Texas, you must declare your home state on your examination application, endorsement application, renewal form, or separate declaration of primary state of residence form, whichever is applicable.

How do I get another license if I've lost mine? Is there a fee? How long will it take?

As of September 1, 2008, the Texas Board of Nursing no longer issues paper licenses. In accordance, TBON no longer issues duplicate licenses. Print a copy from the verification page on the TBON website.

How do I get a Texas RN license renewal notice if I didn't receive mine in the mail?

You don't need the notice to renew. As long as it's no more than 60 days prior to your license expiring, you can go to the Texas Board of Nursing website and click “Renewal” to be guided through the process. TBON mails renewal postcards 60 days before your license expires to the last known address in our system. It's recommended that you verify the status of your license prior to attempting to renew, as this will show any outstanding issues that might need to be addressed. If you can't renew online, you must download a copy of the Texas RN license renewal application from our website.

Does the Texas Board of Nursing require continuing nursing education (CNE) credits?

Yes. Nurses must attest to completing a minimum of 20 contact hours of continuing nursing education (CNE) before renewing their license. First time licensees by examination and endorsement are exempt from this requirement for their first renewal. Don't mail any certificates to the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON). You'll be required to provide copies of the CNE certificates only if you're notified you've been chosen for an audit. We accept CNE programs approved by national nursing organizations, their affiliates, and other state boards of nursing.

Is there a form and/or fee to get my Texas license verification?

Texas doesn't provide verification of licensure to any state since the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON) participates in the national database called NURsys®. All your Texas license information is maintained in this national database. You can allow any State BON access to your Texas license information in NURsys by paying a fee to that system.

If you have APRN recognition or the verification is going to a location other than another State BON, you may submit your request in writing along with a $25 check or money order payable to the Texas Board of Nursing to:

Texas Board of Nursing
William P. Hobby Building
333 Guadalupe, Suite 3-460
Austin, TX 78701-3944

Can you tell me if I passed the NCLEX? When will I receive my results?

Most candidates receive their NCLEX results in the mail within three weeks from their test date. However, if Pearson VUE places the candidate's results on "Hold" for any reason, it may delay receipt. Results won't be released over the phone or by email during this time. Licensure verification can be obtained from our website under online verification. If you've passed the NCLEX and have a valid Social Security Number, licensure should be available for verification within 15 working days after you've taken the exam. The Texas Board of Nursing participates in "Quick Results," but this doesn't substitute for the official results.

Can I get my fingerprints done now and send them in early?

No. Your fingerprints must be sent when the Texas Board of Nursing sends the notification to IdentoGO. Due to the high volume of nurses in the State of Texas, we can't accept fingerprints unless the person has been selected or is a new applicant.

Are all nurses being fingerprinted in Texas?

Yes. All candidates seeking their initial Texas nursing license must be fingerprinted to be licensed. Nurses also will be randomly selected to be fingerprinted at least once over the next 10 years.

How will I know when I've been selected for fingerprinting in Texas?

The Texas Board of Nursing mails a notice to selected nurses 90 days before the expiration date on their license. TBON must have the person's correct address to ensure all notices are received. Fingerprinting instructions are included with the notice.

Can I do the fingerprints on my own?

No, the fingerprints must be done by someone trained to collect fingerprints. If you're unable to be fingerprinted through IdentoGO, you may be fingerprinted at any law enforcement agency.

How much does it cost to be fingerprinted in Texas?

IdentoGO charges $41.95 for fingerprinting services for nurse licensure. Other agencies in and outside Texas may charge a different fee. Please check with the prospective agency prior to making an appointment.

Why did I receive a letter saying I need to submit another set of fingerprints for my Texas nursing license application?

If the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are unable to read the fingerprints, they require another set of fingerprints. Typically, this indicates the fingerprinting technician rolled the fingerprints incorrectly. Rejections of this type can often be avoided by using IdentoGO for fingerprinting services.

Should I notify the Texas Board of Nursing before submitting my fingerprints if I think something may come up on my criminal background check?

Yes. Please send a signed and dated letter to the Texas Board of Nursing describing the incident(s) on your criminal background with certified copies of the court documents.

How long does it take to hear back about the Declaratory Order I submitted?

A Declaratory Order is submitted for the initial review after the Declaratory Order, statement, all corresponding certified documents, and the Criminal Background Check results are received. The initial review can take up to 30 days.

Who will send me the Authorization to Test letter?

Pearson VUE will send you the Authorization to Test letter by email.

What do I need to bring with me to the NCLEX testing center?

You should bring your Authorization to Test and your photo identification. Your first and last name on your photo ID should match exactly to your name on the Authorization to Test letter. Middle names aren't required. This is a safeguard to prevent someone else from testing in your place.

How long does it take to get my permanent Texas nursing license?

The Texas Board of Nursing staff has a target of 15 business days from the date the last item needed for application is received to review, if approved. This will vary depending on how long it takes to receive:

  • license verification(s)

  • criminal background check results

  • any other documents required

  • nursing jurisprudence examination