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Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I get a compact license?

Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I get a compact license?

Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I get a compact license?

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

I was curious about obtaining a compact license from South Carolina.  I was told by my recruiter that because I am staying in South Carolina for six months that I can somehow use the South Carolina address to obtain my compact license while keeping my permanent address in Pennsylvania which is my original state of licensure. Is this true? If so, how do I go about doing this and how do I get a compact license? Thanks so much!

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

Please allow this to be a cautionary tale to anyone who receives information from their recruiters about licensure.

While I can provide some insight into your question, let me first say that I do tell nurses to ask their recruiters about licensure in other states. However, the only question I encourage them to ask is about average licensure time.

The recruiters work closely with travel nurses to get them positions in states where they may often not already have an active nursing license. For these assignments, the recruiter and nurse are usually in close communication about when, or how long it will be, until the nurse is able to secure their license. So many recruiters become familiar with the common “wait-times” on different state licenses.

However, I also always caution people that when dealing with any board of nursing, go straight to the board with any questions. Do NOT expect that your recruiters can always be up to speed with the licensing requirements of any particular state (even if they send travelers there often).

With that said, and from the information given in your post, what your recruiter told you was incorrect.

From the Nurse Licensure Compact site:

“In order to be eligible for a compact license, your declared primary state of residence must be a compact state. Owning property in a compact state is not sufficient to meet residence requirements. Proof of residence includes obtaining a driver’s license, voting/registering to vote or filing federal taxes with an address in that state.”

So merely staying in a compact state, will NOT enable you to apply for a compact license in that state. You must fill out a declaration form with the board and show proof that the compact state is now your official state of residence.

While there are a few “rules” of the game that you can bend in travel nursing, anything having to do with your license should be off the table. When it comes to a license that governs your career and livelihood, play it straight.

For more info on the NLC, visit them here.

Hope this helps.


I was curious

Posted in: Ask a Travel Nurse

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

1 Comment on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I get a compact license?"

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  1. Lisa K.


    For those of us who do not live in a compact state, there may be legislation pending for your state to participate in compact licensure. I live in NY and we do have pending legislation lumped in with the military spouse bill. I encourage anyone reading this to check the following link to see if there is pending legislation in your state Then PICK UP THE PHONE and call your assembly or senate representatives and tell them you support the bill. Compact licensure allows a nurse to travel to a disaster area to help…your elected officials like hearing that kind of stuff. Plus…if the legislation passes in your state, it will make traveling so much easier and less expensive.

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