• Certifications and Licenses
  • RN - Wisconsin

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

    Overview

    The State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) works closely with the Wisconsin Board of Nursing (BON) to ensure public safety through appropriate education and licensing of registered nurses (RNs) within the state. The Wisconsin BON consists of nine members and establishes minimum standards for professional nursing schools in the state. DSPS oversees the Wisconsin nursing license application process and issues RN licenses. Over 113,500 nurses held RN licenses in May 2022.

    About

    Applicants applying for a Wisconsin nursing license began using LicensE on May 16, 2022. LicensE is the DSPS' new self-guided, online occupational license application platform. The online system will replace paper applications.

    NCLEX Registration

    To register for the NCLEX examination and follow the registration instructions. If possible, it is highly recommended to register with Pearson VUE before the school submits your statement of graduation/transcript. If you are not able to register until after the school submits your approval, be sure to read your application status thoroughly, as you may need to email the Department to let us know after you have registered. Not reading the full status comments can cause delays in approval. Once your application is entered into the DSPS credentialing system, your application status will be viewable online.

    Fee Reduction

    Pursuant to 2017 Wisconsin Act 319, beginning August 1, 2018, an applicant for an initial credential may apply for a reduction of the initial credential fee that is equal to 10% of the initial fee. Qualification is based on the federal adjusted gross income being at or below 180% of the federal poverty guideline prescribed for the applicant's family household size by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Visit the United States Department of Health and Human Services website to determine eligibility before submitting Form 3217.

    Obtaining a Wisconsin RN License

    You may fill out an application for a Registered Nurse license at this link: DSPS RN Application. DSPS recommends scheduling your NCLEX exam before filling out the application. New graduate nurses must apply for licensure by exam. Anyone seeking a Wisconsin nursing license who currently has a single state license from another state can apply for licensure by endorsement, which is faster than licensure by exam. Applications for a Wisconsin RN license can be completed online. All applicants must pay $90 to cover the application fee and an additional $10 if they want a temporary license until they receive their permanent license.

    All applicants, whether applying by exam or endorsement, 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 completed 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.

    Temporary Permit and Examination

    Before sitting for the examination, an applicant may receive a temporary permit. Completing all requirements, except examination, submittal of Form 2434, and payment of a $10.00 fee are required to receive a temporary permit.

    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.

    Multistate nursing license

    Applicants who currently hold a valid multistate license in another Compact state do not have to obtain a Wisconsin RN license to practice in this state. For those who aren't licensed yet, Wisconsin must be their primary state of residence to qualify for a multistate nursing license. 

    You will need to meet at least three of the following requirements:

    • Apply for licensure by examination

    • Receive authorization to test, also known as ATT

    • Pass the NCLEX

    • Meet state licensure requirements

    Applying for the compact license will not require an additional application for licensure because the license in your home state is valid among all compact states. As long as your primary state of residence does not change, you are eligible to practice in all compact states.

    First-time applicants for single state licensure by endorsement may request a temporary permit to practice nursing while awaiting endorsement. Applicants with a valid multistate license can practice on this license.

    Wisconsin RN Licensure by Exam

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

    Nursing Program Verification form:

    A Statement of Graduation or Completion (DSPS Form #259): is required for graduates from a WI state Board-approved School located in WI. This form must be returned directly from your school to the WI DSPS. Forms received from the applicant will be rejected by the Board. Your nursing school should not complete this form until after you have graduated from or completed the Board-Approved School of Professional/Practical Nursing Program. Anticipated dates of graduation or completion on Form #259 will not be accepted.

    Official Transcripts:

    Required for applicants who graduated from a state outside of WI but in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory. Transcripts must be sent directly from your school to the WI Board of Nursing after graduation. Official transcripts received from the applicant will be rejected by the Board. Transcripts submitted before graduation that do not contain degree conferral dates will be rejected by the Board. Transcripts may be emailed directly from the school to [email protected] or mailed to the address below. Transcripts must be sent directly from the college or school of nursing the applicant attended. Transcripts must include the graduation date and type of degree earned and can be mailed to the Board or sent electronically to [email protected] or mailed to: 

    WI DSPS P.O. Box 8935 Madison, WI 53705  Fax: (608) 251-3036 

    Applying for the online exam

    When applying for the Wisconsin online exam, the steps include:

    • Completing an online application

    • Paying all required fees using a credit card

    • Mailing the original notarized signature page to the Board office

    • Submitting one original fingerprint card

    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 by submitting the four items listed above and after the board receives the Nursing Program Verification form. 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 the notice of eligibility. Applicants receive their permanent license upon passing the NCLEX-RN. Those failing the exam will receive written notice via email or postal mail. 

    Application for licensure:

    Licensure by Endorsement

    For applicants who hold an active license in another State

    To be eligible for a WI multi-state license, your primary State of residency must be Wisconsin, or you must indicate on the application that you plan on moving to Wisconsin. Verification of the initial state license and a current state license is required. Only one license verification is needed if the initial State license is still active. If the license(s) needed are verifiable through NURSYS (the states that participate in the NURSYS Nurse Licensure Verification Service), the applicant should not need a temporary permit. Endorsement applicants can apply for a temporary permit only if the initial exam State or current State of licensure does not participate in NURSYS license verification.

    If the state in which you currently have or initially held a license as an RN/LPN is not one of the participating states which use the NURSYS verification process, contact each state board to request a verification of licensure be sent to Wisconsin. This verification must be returned directly from the other state board(s) to the WI DSPS. Verification can be mailed to:

    WI DSPS P.O. Box 8935 Madison, WI 53705

    Or emailed directly to [email protected] Verifications received from the applicant will be rejected by the Board. Our department does not have a form to make this request as each state Board has its own standardized verification letter.

    Wisconsin RN Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    RN Foreign Educated Exam Applicants must obtain either Item A or Items B and C to qualify for the exam.

    A. CGFNS Certification Program - For details regarding completing the Certification Program, please contact the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) at (215) 222-8454 or visit www.cgfns.org. Once you have completed the Certification Program and have received a certificate from CGFNS, you must request that CGFNS send a valid certificate directly to the WI Board of Nursing. Certificates received from the applicant will be rejected by the Board. 

    B. Credential Evaluation Services (CES) Report - Contact the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) at (215)349-8767 or visit http://www.cgfns.org/ to request that CES send a valid CES report directly to the WI Board of Nursing. Reports received from the applicant will be rejected by the Board. 

    C. TOEFL/IELTS Report Required - Contact the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) at P.O. Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151, or International English Language Testing System at http://www.ielts.org/ and request TOEFL send a copy of the test result scores directly to the WI Board of Nursing. Scores received from the applicant will be rejected by the Board.

    Temporary Nurse License in Wisconsin

    When applying for the first time for Licensure by Examination or single state Licensure by Endorsement, applicants may request a Temporary Permit. Applicants must submit a completed application before permits will be issued, including all required documentation. However, they don’t have to list an employer to be eligible for a permit. Temporary permits are valid for 90 days and aren’t renewable, so if they expire before applicants pass the NCLEX exam, they can’t legally practice in Wisconsin. Should an applicant fail the NCLEX on the first attempt, the temporary permit expires and can’t be renewed.

    Temporary permits allow applicants for Wisconsin RN licensure by exam to practice nursing with restrictions. Temporary permits expire if an applicant is denied licensure or is issued a license.

    Renewal

    Applicants must hold an active Wisconsin license and submit a completed electronic renewal application with the required fees to be eligible for Wisconsin R.N. license renewal. Wisconsin licenses are valid for two years. RN license renewals are due every EVEN numbered year. Wyoming RN license renewals aren’t complete until the applicant receives a confirmation number. Renewals are done electronically, with electronic payments required.

    Requirements

    • FEE ($57)

    • SVY (Nursing Workforce Survey is required to renew and is available during the open renewal period.) The survey is now shortened and incorporated into the renewal     questions.

    • RES (Report State of Primary Residence)

    • If your legal status as a qualified alien or nonimmigrant lawfully present in the United States has changed since the issuance of your credential or your last renewal, please contact the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services at (608) 266-2112 or [email protected]

    The required renewal date for the Registered Nurse credential is 02/28 or 2/29/of even years. Should you receive your initial credential in the months leading up to this date, you are still required to renew your license by the statutorily defined date.

    Continuing Education Requirements

    There aren’t any continuing education (CE) requirements for license renewal of RNs in Wisconsin at this time.

    Requirements

    Wisconsin is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC makes it easier to practice nursing in Wisconsin and other NLC states. When you have a multistate license, you can skip the hassle of paying multiple renewal fees and going through a lengthy application process each time you move to a new state.

    If a nurse permanently relocates to another compact state, they must apply for a license in the new compact state. Visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) for more information and a map of current compact states.

    Fingerprinting Requirements

    Fingerprints: You’ll receive instructions regarding how to get digital fingerprints after the Wisconsin DSPS has received your authorization for the release of FBI information. If you are applying for a multistate license, you will receive information on how to obtain digital fingerprints after the Department has received a signed Authorization for Release of FBI Information (Form #2687).

    Authorization for Release of FBI Information

    (Form #2687) – Provisions require us (DSPS) to notify you that your fingerprints may be used to check the criminal history records with the FBI. Identification records obtained from the FBI may be used solely for the purpose requested and may not be disseminated outside the receiving department, related agency, or other authorized entity. The Department of Safety and Professional Services does not deny a license based on the information in the record itself but does require the submittal of a certified copy of the criminal complaint and judgment of conviction in any matter which would appear to be cause for denial of a license. Form, with photograph, must be submitted if applying for a multistate license. Contact the FBI at 304-625-5590.

    Contact Information

    Wisconsin Board of Nursing Department of Safety and Professional Services 4822 Madison Yards Way Madison, WI 53705 Mailing Address: PO Box 8366, Madison, WI 53708-8366 [email protected] (608) 266-2112 / (877) 617-1565

    Multistate

    Effective December 11, 2017 Wisconsin joined the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC).

    Timing

    While there isn’t an overall timetable for issuing licenses, there are some general timeframes on certain aspects of the Wisconsin 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. The process for issuing temporary permits to first-time applicants for single state licensure by endorsement generally takes 72 to 96 hours, as long as 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.

    Fees

    The DSPS 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:

    Application fee (permanent license): $90 ($82 out of state nurses) Temporary license fee: $10 Transaction fee: No fingerprint fees Renewal: $57

    Applicants also must pay a $200 registration fee to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) for taking the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. This fee won’t be refunded 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

    Is Wisconsin a Compact Nursing License State?

    Yes it is.

    How many continuing education (CE) units do I need to renew my license?

    At this time, there are no CE requirements to renew.

    What is the total cost of the application fee and exam fee?

    The total is $290, $90 for the application and $200 for the exam.