• Certifications and Licenses
  • RN - Washington

    • Not a Compact State
    • Participates in NURSYS
    • Renewal every year


    Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (WSNCQAC), also known as the Nursing Commission, consists of 15 members appointed by the Governor and operates under the Washington State Department of Health. It protects the public's health and safety by regulating the competency of registered nurses (RNs) through the establishment and monitoring of licensing, standards of practice, continuing competency, and discipline. The number of RNs holding Washington nursing licenses has grown from 71,000 in 2006 to over 94,000 in 2018, per a Washington state RN workforce survey released in 2018. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) national database, over 120,500 nurses held active Washington RN licenses in May 2022.


    Washington RN Licensure by Exam

    The fee for licensure by examination is $ 120. This is separate from the cost of the exam itself, which is $200 and payable to the testing company (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex/)

    Graduate nurses must apply for Washington nursing licensure by exam. All applicants must provide evidence of completion of an approved registered nursing education program and an official transcript if educated outside of Washington.

    Applications are processed by the date of receipt, generally within 15 business days. Applicants can receive a temporary permit while waiting for their permanent license. To be eligible for a temporary license, applicants must not have previously failed the NCLEX-RN or failed to appear to take the NCLEX-RN after registering for the exam.

    Applicants may register to take the required NCLEX-RN with PearsonVUE Professional Testing once they have received their authorization to test (ATT). After registering for the exam and receiving application approval, the Board notifies the testing company of an applicant’s eligibility to take the exam. PearsonVUE issues an Authorization to Test to applicants within about 48 hours of receiving an eligibility notice. Applicants receive their permanent license upon passing the NCLEX-RN. Those failing the exam will receive written notice via email or postal mail. 

    Licensure by Endorsement

    (For applicants who hold an active license in another State)

    RNs may pursue licensure by endorsement in Washington by obtaining verification from the original licensing state.

    Washington RN Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    Applicants must have completed a nursing education program outside of the United States in accordance with WAC 246-840-045 or WAC 246-840-090.

    Requirements and Application

    Please read all documentation below, and you must complete all pre-licensure requirements, including any required transcript evaluation or English proficiency examination, prior to applying with Washington state.

    Additional Required Documents

    These forms may or may not apply to your situation. Please refer to the Educated Outside of the United States Licensure Requirements form to see what applies to your situation.

    The non-refundable application fee is $120.00 for registered nurses.


    All registered nurses in Washington state must renew annually by their birthday to remain in active status. All renewal and reactivation fees are non-refundable.

    Continuing education requirements and active nursing practice hours changes

    As of June 12, 2021 the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC) has reduced education and active nursing practice hour requirements for active, inactive, expired, and retired-active nurse credentials and changed the reporting period. Changes include:

    • Continuing education and active nursing practice hour renewals are now yearly.

    • Active nursing practice continuing education hours changed to at least 8 hours a year.

    • Active nursing practice hours changed to at least 96 hours a year.

    • Retired active nursing practice continuing education hours changed to at least 8 hours a year.

    • Retired active nursing practice hours changed to at least 24 hours a year (max of 90 days a year).

    Renew your license and submit your $120.00 renewal fee online (PDF).

    Renewal fees include a $16.00 surcharge to access the University of Washington (UW) HEAL-WA website and a $5.00 nursing center surcharge paid to the Washington Center for Nursing. Do not add these amounts to the fees when paying, they are already included in the fee amounts listed above.

    Continuing Education Requirements

    Active nursing practice continuing education hours changed to at least 8 hours a year.

    ​Continuing education and active nursing practice hour renewals are now yearly.


    Washington is not a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) for more information and a map of current compact states.

    An applicant who has completed all pre-licensure requirements according to WAC 246-840-025, WAC 246-840-030, or WAC 246-840-048 can apply for licensure NCLEX examination.

    Whether applying by exam or endorsement, all applicants must meet the Board's nurse education requirements.. If they completed an in-state RN education program, the program must be accredited by the Board. Programs conducted outside the state must either meet the Board's minimum requirements for an accredited program completed within the state or be accredited by the National League for Nursing.


    Those educated in a commission-approved Washington state nursing education program and applying for initial licensure must:

    1. Successfully complete a commission-approved nursing education program. For applicants from a commission approved registered nurse program who are applying for a practical nurse license:

    • (a) Complete all coursework required for commission-approved practical nurse programs as listed in WAC 246-840-575(2). Required courses not included in the registered nurse program may be accepted if the courses were obtained through a commission-approved program.

    • (b) Be deemed as capable to safely practice within the scope of practice of a practical nurse by the nurse administrator of the candidate's program.

    2. Successfully pass the commission-approved licensure examination as provided in WAC 246-840-050. Testing may be allowed upon receipt of a certificate of completion from the nursing education program administrator.

    3. Submit the following documents:

    • (a) A completed licensure application with the required fee defined in WAC 246-840-990.

    • (b) An official transcript sent directly from the applicant's nursing education program to the commission. The transcript must include course names and credits accepted from other programs. Transcripts must be received within ninety days of the applicant's first taking of the examination. The transcript must show:

      • (i) The applicant has graduated from an approved nursing program or has completed the pre-licensure portion of an approved graduate-entry registered nursing program; or

      • (ii) That the applicant has completed all coursework required in a commission-approved practical nurse program as listed in WAC 246-840-575(2).

    Requirements include:

    Application submission

    1. Submit a Packet and Fee completed application. Incomplete applications may result in delayed processing times. 

    2. Attach all supporting documentation. All “yes” responses to personal data questions in the application, require you to attach supporting documentation, such as court documents and written statements. 

    3. Include your payment of the non-refundable application fee. 

    4. If you previously applied for a healthcare license through the Department of Health and then changed your name, you must submit a copy of the legal name change document with this application. 

    Examples of acceptable documentation include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or other court documents. Certificate of Completion Nursing Education Program Graduate in Washington State If you are a Washington state nursing education program graduate, the program director will send an electronic certificate of completion to our office after you complete the program. Nursing Education Program Graduate in another U.S. State or Jurisdiction If you are a graduate from a nursing education program in another U.S. state or jurisdiction, we will need your official transcripts, with degree and graduation date listed, sent to the Nursing Commission before we are able to grant eligibility to test in Pearson Vue.  

    Official Transcripts; if your school participates in an electronic transcript service (E-Script, Parchment, or Student ClearingHouse), please have your official transcripts sent to [email protected] If your school does not participate in one of these services, please request your nursing education program to mail your transcripts, with your degree and graduation date listed, to the Nursing Commission. 

    You may check the status of your application using Provider Credential Search. A customer service representative will email you with detailed instructions if anything is missing from your application.

    FBI Background check and fingerprinting

    Washington state law authorizes the Department of Health to obtain fingerprint background checks for licensing purposes. After your application is received, the Nursing Commission will email you instructions on the fingerprint process and how to complete and submit prints to the Department of Health. You will need to obtain fingerprint cards from the location you complete the fingerprinting process. The Department of Health completes the check through the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A temporary practice permit will be issued after all other licensing requirements are met, pending the completion of this process.

    Contact Information

    Washington Department of Health State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 111 Israel Road Southeast Tumwater, WA 98501 [email protected] (360) 236-4703


    Application Timeline

    • Paper Application: 2-3 days

    • Application and fee received by DOH

    • Fees processed by DOH Revenue

    • Online Application: 1 day

    • Application and fee processed by DOH

    • Application Intake: 1-2 days

    • Licensing staff verifies application information in ILRS

    • Applicants with out of state address are emailed FBI fingerprint instructions

    • Background Check: 1-2 days

    • Application forwarded from intake desk to background desk

    • Criminal background checks are conducted on all applications

    • Review: If no deficiencies, 1-3 days

    • Application reviewed by appropriate review desk (International, Exam, Endorsement, ARNP)

    • Applications are reviewed for deficiencies, and applicants are notified via email of missing requirements

    • Final Review: 1-2 days

    • Application forwarded to final review desk after all requirements have been met, except applications forwarded to Nurse Discipline for approval/denial

    • Temporary Practice Permit Issued

    • Temporary Practice Permit will get issued once all requirements have been met pending FBI Background

    • Active License Issued

    • Active license issued by final approval desk upon completion of all requirements, including FBI Background

    While there isn’t an overall timetable for issuing licenses, there are some general timeframes on certain aspects of the Washington RN licensing process. Applicants applying for licensure by exam will usually receive their authorization to test (ATT) within 2 to 3 weeks, following a legal review. Licenses are issued within 24 to 72 hours of passing the NCLEX. Licenses are issued within 24 to 72 hours of passing the NCLEX. The process for issuing temporary permits to first-time applicants for single state licensure by endorsement generally takes 72 to 96 hours. The applicant has an unencumbered license, and all required documentation is in order.

    Permanent licenses for any applicant type are only issued when all requirements are fulfilled, with applications processed on a first-in-first-out basis.

    Temporary Nurse License

    The temporary permit allows the applicant to practice practical nursing under the direct supervision of a registered nurse until a credential is granted. A temporary permit is valid for a period of three months or until the holder receives failing examination results, whichever is shorter. A temporary permit may be renewed once for an additional three-month period.


    The non-refundable application fee is $120.00 for registered nurses.

    The Washington Dept of Health sets the fees for licensure and other relevant costs. Prospective nurses must apply and pay for their licenses online with a debit or credit card. All fees are non-refundable. Current fees and other related costs include:

    Applicants also must pay a $200 registration fee to take the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. This fee won’t be refunded for any reason and must be paid by a VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit, debit, or prepaid card. Should an applicant fail the exam and retake it, another $200 fee applies.

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    Frequently asked questions

    What is the process for an existing RN in Washington to apply for the Compact License?

    Washington does not offer the eNLC at this time.

    I just recently had a background check performed for another license. Can I use that background check for my multistate license?

    No. The background check must be done at the time of the application, and it is the only purpose for which it will be able to be used.

    When are the license renewal periods?

    All currently active Washington RN Licenses expire on October 31st of each year. The renewal period will begin September 1st, and you must renew your license by October 31st or your RN license will lapse.