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Ask a Travel Nurse: How do you handle licensing in different states when travel nursing?

Ask a Travel Nurse: How do you handle licensing in different states when travel nursing?

Ask a Travel Nurse: How do you handle licensing in different states when travel nursing?

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

How do you get so many licenses when travel nursing? Are they all compact states? Don’t you have to have a home base to even apply for your first assignment and/or license?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

If you do not already reside in a compact state, then you will have to obtain a license for each state in which you want to practice. However, many travel companies will reimburse for this cost, but you may need to obtain the license yourself, even before you start to look, because of some of the long turn-around times with the state boards.

Just check with your recruiter and make sure the company will reimburse you if you do end up taking an assignment with them, in the state in which you obtained the license.

I have never encountered anyone who did not have a license active in at least one state and although I do not know if it is strictly mandatory, I would think that you would want to carry at least one active license to show that you have passed the NCLEX and are able to work as a registered nurse.

Hope this helps.



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.

2 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How do you handle licensing in different states when travel nursing?"

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  1. Jen


    Follow up question about the licensing in multiple states: besides my permanent home state license (WA) are the other state licenses temporary? I noticed on the Missouri stare board site that I am only allowed one temporary license for MO in my lifetime and it only lasts 6 months. Can you clarify this?

  2. David says:

    Hey Jen. The best clarification on this would be the MO state board. Perhaps it is a language issue and they have both temporary licenses and license endorsements.

    Just a quick look on their site mentioned license endorsements and how they renew every two years as a normal license would. However, in MO, it appears that you cannot just let your license lapse, or you will incur a costly fee to reinstate. Most states just care about getting their money for the current year and meeting any education requirements. In MO, you can be asked to pay the fees for the ENTIRE time that your license had lapsed AND the current fees.

    While I have not worked in all fifty states, this is the first time I have read about a board being so unfriendly to those wishing to renew a lapsed license.

    Their temporary license is likely just that….a temporary way to work in their state while waiting for your license endorsement.

    But again, the board itself will ALWAYS be the best source of information.


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