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How Long Do Nursing Licenses Last?

January 29, 2016

Before you can practice as a nurse, you must first obtain a nursing license. The requirements for obtaining a license vary by state, but most states require you to complete an approved program, pass an exam and submit to a background check. All states also require you to renew your nursing license at regular intervals. The exact renewal period depends on the requirements of the state. 

Licensure Expiration by State

  • Alabama - 2 years

  • Alaska - 2 years

  • Arizona - 4 years

  • Arkansas -  2 years

  • California - 2 years

  • Colorado - 2 years

  • Connecticut - 1 year

  • Delaware - 2 years

  • District of Columbia - 2 years

  • Florida - 2 years

  • Georgia - 2 years

  • Hawaii - 2 years

  • Idaho - 2 years

  • Illinois - 2 years

  • Indiana - 2 years

  • Iowa - 3 years

  • Kansas - 2 years

  • Kentucky - 1 year

  • Louisiana - 1 year

  • Maine - 2 years

  • Maryland - 2 years

  • Massachusetts - 2 years

  • Michigan - 2 years (after first renewal)

  • Minnesota - 2 years

  • Mississippi - 2 years

  • Missouri - 2 years

  • Montana - 2 years

  • Nebraska - 2 years

  • Nevada - 2 years

  • New Hampshire - 2 years

  • New Jersey - 2 years

  • New Mexico - 2 years

  • New York - 3 years

  • North Carolina - 2 years

  • North Dakota - 2 years

  • Ohio - 2 years*

  • Oklahoma - 2 years

  • Oregon - 2 years

  • Pennsylvania - 2 years

  • Rhode Island - 2 years

  • South Carolina - 2 years

  • South Dakota - 2 years

  • Tennessee - 2 years

  • Texas - 2 years

  • Utah - 2 years

  • Vermont - 2 years

  • Virginia - 2 years

  • Washington - 1 year

  • West Virginia - 1 year

  • Wisconsin - 2 years

  • Wyoming - 2 years

The Nurse Licensure Compact

The Nurse Licensure Compact is a licensure agreement made between multiple states that allows a nurse who holds a license in one state to practice in all of the others without applying for a new license. This multi-state license is often referred to as a "compact license." Compact licensure is currently valid in 25 states. If you reside in one of these states, you hold the multi-state license automatically. It will be renewed automatically each time you renew your state nursing license. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, compact states currently include: 

  • Idaho

  • Montana

  • North Dakota

  • South Dakota

  • Nebraska

  • Wisconsin

  • Utah

  • Arizona

  • New Mexico

  • Colorado

  • Texas

  • Missouri

  • Arkansas

  • Iowa

  • Mississippi

  • Tennessee

  • Kentucky

  • South Carolina 

  • North Carolina

  • Virginia

  • Maine

  • New Hampshire

  • Rhode Island

  • Delaware

  • Maryland

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