Nurse Licensure Compact

Understanding the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) Rules for Travel Nurses

The Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators kicked off the new year by unveiling the latest version of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) rules, which were in effect since January 2, 2024. One of the most important takeaways from this version is the introduction of the 60-day rule pertaining to nurses who relocate and change their primary state of residence (PSOR).

What Is the Nurse Licensure Compact?

In an effort to enhance access to care and nurse mobility, the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) was formed, establishing a standardized process for multistate practice among nurses. The Nurse Licensure Compact authorizes RNs and LPNs, or LVNs with a multistate license, to practice in other compact states, whether in person or via telehealth. 

A multistate license does not mean a national license, as not all states are compact states. You may refer to the NLC map below to identify which states fall under this interstate agreement.

If a nurse legally residing in a compact state wishes to apply for a multistate license, they may do so under the endorsement of the Nursing Regulatory body in their primary state of residence (PSOR).

Compact states have an extra level of assurance that out-of-state nurses are licensed and credentialed to high standards and requirements of the NLC. Alternatively, nurses also no longer need to apply for multiple single state licenses, reducing time and effort and expanding nurse practice options.

Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) Map

What Is the New NLC 60-Day Rule?

The original rule states: “A nurse who changes primary state of residence to another party state shall apply for a license in the new party state when the nurse declares to be a resident of the state and obtain privileges not ordinarily extended to nonresidents of the state, including but not limited to those listed in 402 (4) (a) – (e).”

In the new set of rules effective January 2, 2024, this portion has been changed to state: “A multistate licensee who changes primary state of residence to another party state shall apply for a multistate license in the new party state within 60 days.”

This rule change essentially addresses the lack of clarity in the previous rule by now providing a specific time frame of 60 days. But what does this mean, exactly?

The new NLC 60-day rule mostly concerns nurses who (1) already possess a multistate license, and (2) will be relocating to a different state. Under this rule, nurses would be given a grace period of 60 days in which they would need to apply for a multistate license in their new state. The 60 days would start on the day the nurse moves into their new residence. 

For example, let’s say you are a nurse with a multistate license who plans to permanently relocate from Florida to Texas. If you move into your new Texas residence on March 1, you would have until April 29 to apply for a multistate license in Texas.

For clarity, this new rule does not mean you will be receiving your new license within 60 days. Your new license will not be automatically given to you upon relocation. You would still need to apply and go through the process. The 60 days solely pertains to the application period.

How Does the New Nurse Licensure Compact Rule Affect Me as a Travel Nurse?

With this new rule in effect, you might be wondering how it is going to affect you, if at all. For example, if you’re a travel nurse, would you need to worry about this new rule? Not always… but sometimes, yes.

In general, if you are a travel nurse who is not planning to change their PSOR, you don’t need to worry about the 60-day rule. When you are a travel nurse, you are only practicing in another compact state temporarily. Since the temporary state you are assigned to is not being declared as your new PSOR, you won’t need to apply for a new multistate license in that state.

However, if you were initially on a travel assignment but then accepted a permanent position at that facility, you would have to adhere to the 60-day rule. In this case, your 60 days would start on the date that you accepted the job offer.

Here are some other scenarios to consider and what you would need to do under these cases.

If You Are Relocating to a State That Is Still in the Process of Implementing NLC

Let’s say you decide to relocate to Pennsylvania. Since the Nurse Licensure Compact implementation date for Pennsylvania is still unknown, you won’t be able to apply yet for a multistate license under your new PSOR. In this case, it would be best to apply for a single state license and wait for updates regarding the implementation of NLC in your state. 

If You Are Relocating But Not Planning to Practice

If, for whatever reason, you decide not to continue practicing in your new PSOR, you won’t need to apply for a new multistate license. However, you would still need to notify the board of nursing in your previous state regarding your change of PSOR. This way, they can change your multistate license to a single state license.

If You Are Relocating and Your License Expires Soon

In general, you can still practice under your old license if your new multistate license is still being processed. However, if your old license is expiring soon, you will not be able to renew it since your PSOR is no longer the same. If you fear your old license will expire before you get your new one, it’s best to renew your old license before relocating.

What You Need to Do

If you have relocated and the 60-day rule applies to you, the first thing you need to do is to declare your primary state of residence. For this, you will need to provide proof of residence in said state.

You can choose to get a driver’s license in your new state or register to vote in that state. Once you have this proof, you will need to apply for a new multistate license. You can find the application form on your new state’s board of nursing website.

While your new multistate license is still being processed, you can continue to practice in your new state under your old license. Once you’ve been issued a new multistate license, your former PSOR will deactivate your old license and notify you about this change.

In Summary

With the Nurse Licensure Compact, travel nurses now have more options than ever. And this new 60-day rule only serves to benefit nurses, as it gives a more specific timeframe for them to apply for a new multistate license when relocating, eliminating confusion. But for travel nurses, there’s no need to worry. This new rule will not be much of a concern since travel assignments are only temporary and do not involve a legal change of the PSOR. 

If you do have concerns about the NLC and how it may affect you and your specific situation, Epic Travel Staffing is here to help. Our recruiters are well-versed in the Nurse Licensure Compact and can give you the guidance you need to bring your practice wherever your heart takes you. Get in touch with us today!