Product img
Nurse Compact Licenses
Thumb img

Everything You Need to Know about Nurse Compact Licenses (NCL) for Travel Nurses

Nurses are the backbone of patient care in healthcare, and the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is a groundbreaking initiative that aims to simplify the licensing process for nurses. In particular, the NLC offers exceptional flexibility and mobility to travel nurses. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) created the NLC in 2008 to increase access to care by enabling nurses to practice in multiple states easily. Additionally, the NLC maintains high standards of care and promotes communication between member states to protect patients.

Understanding the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC):

The NCL is an agreement among participating U.S. states that enables nurses to hold a single multistate license. This license gives them the privilege to practice in all member states without requiring a separate license for each state. The NLC, authorized by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), aims to address the changing healthcare landscape and the increasing need for a more flexible and efficient licensure process. By allowing nurses to practice seamlessly in other NLC states without obtaining additional licenses, the NLC increases access to care. Additionally, the NLC ensures high standards of care and facilitates communication between member states, thereby protecting patients.

Compact License States in the NLC:

The Nurse Licensure Compact currently includes 40 participating states and two territories. It’s important to stay updated on the current list of participating states, as the compact grows. Connecticut was most recently added to the compact on May 30, 2024. A current list can be found on the official website of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)

Pending NCL Legislation:

Seven more states await approval to join the NLC: California, DC, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and New York.

Benefits for Travel Nurses:

  1. Enhanced Mobility: Travel nurses, whose careers often involve moving between states, benefit significantly from the NLC. With a compact license, they can seamlessly move between participating states without the time-consuming process of obtaining individual licenses, making practicing across state borders affordable and convenient. This allows more nurses to pursue travel nursing opportunities.
  2. Streamlined Application Process: The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) makes it easier for travel nurses to apply for licenses. Instead of going through the daunting task of obtaining licenses from each state in which they are interested in working, they can apply for a single license from their primary state of residence. Moreover, it also simplifies pursuing nursing education online. Nurses can get degrees from states different from where they want to work and practice.
  3. Cost Savings: Travel nurses can enjoy cost savings with a compact license. Eliminating the need for multiple licenses reduces application fees and associated expenses, making it more financially reasonable for nurses seeking diverse career opportunities.

How to Obtain a Compact License:

The process of obtaining a compact license involves several key steps:

  1. Verify Eligibility: Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for obtaining a compact license. This typically includes having a primary residence in a compact state and holding an active nursing license. You can find out more about the eligibility requirements here.
  2. Submit an Application: Apply for a compact license through the nursing board of your primary state of residence. The application process may involve background checks and verification of your nursing credentials.
  3. Wait for Processing: Allow time for the nursing board to process your application. The duration may vary, so it’s essential to plan accordingly.
  4. Receive Your Compact License: Once your application is approved, you will receive a compact license. This license grants you the privilege to practice in all participating states.


For travel nurses, the Nurse Licensure Compact is an opportunity to offer a streamlined path to practice in multiple states. As the healthcare world continues to change, the NLC remains an indispensable tool, allowing nurses to explore diverse career paths and ensuring that quality healthcare is accessible across state borders. Stay informed, embrace the flexibility, and let your nursing career grow under the wings of the Nurse Licensure Compact.

About the Author

Travel Nurses, Inc. is a leading travel nurse staffing agency providing nurses with opportunities to find work across the country. Established by nurses for nurses, TNI has been in business since 1988 and has over 30 years of experience.