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The New Nurse Compact License States

(2018 and beyond)


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Obviously, if a you want to become a successful travel nurse, you are going to have to, well ummm… be able to travel.  It’s a little more complicated than that though as there are rules around where a nurse can practice with certain licenses.  And there are some big and important changes going on in the world of travel nursing surrounding the topic of state licensure.  In short, 4 states will no longer be compact, and at least 5 new states will be compact in 2018. 

2017 Compact States that are dropping off – Colorado (CO), Wisconsin (WI), New Mexico (NM) and Rhode Island (RI)

2018 Compact States that are being added – Georgia (GA), Florida (FL), Wyoming (WY), West Virginia (WV), and Oklahoma (OK), (and several others that are pending).

The Rules

For many years now a there have been 2 types of nursing licenses

1) a state nursing license

2) a compact nursing license (FYI that some people call it a “multistate” license)

The difference being that a regular state nursing license will allow you to work only in that 1 state that you are licensed in.  But, if that state happens to be considered one of the “compact states” and your primary residence is also in that state, then your license is considered to be a compact license and you can travel to any of the other compact states and work as a nurse.

There are a few changes that are taking place on 1/19/18 and a few states will be added to the compact states and a few will be dropped (at least until they pass legislature and are added again).  They are calling the old (before 2018) compact states NLC (Nurse Licensure Compact) and the new (starting Jan of 2018) compact states eNLC (Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact).  See how they added the “e” at the beginning of NLC? Very creative, huh?  Let’s get into the details of what states will be coming and going.

The Old Compact States (NLC – Nurse Licensure Compact)

Here is an image of the old 24 compact states.

Old Compact States
Travel Nurse Compact License States RN

As you can see the 24 states in green were considered compact states.  Well, the states that will no longer be compact states are….

Colorado (CO), Wisconsin (WI), New Mexico (NM) and Rhode Island (RI). So as of 1/19/18 all nurses carrying the original NLC compact licenses will only be able to practice in these 4 “old” compact states. They will not be able to practice in any state that is a part of the new eNLC states.  Here is a quick example to drive the point home…  

If a nurse in 2017 lives in Colorado and has an “old” NLC compact license, that nurse will not be able to lawfully practice in Texas (or any of the other eNLC states) without getting a license there.  However, if that nurse wanted to practice in Wisconsin, they would be able to.


The New Compact States (eNLC – Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact)

Let’s talk about the states that are being added as “new” eNLC compact states.  Here is a map of the new eNLC compact states.


2018 eNLC Travel Nursing Compact States Map










As you can see the 4 states mentioned above are no longer listed officially as compact states, but there are 5 states being added…

Georgia (GA), Florida (FL), Wyoming (WY), West Virginia (WV), and Oklahoma (OK). These will take effect in January of 2018. New Jersey and Massachusetts (and a couple others on the map highlighted in blue) are planning on becoming eNLC sometime in 2018 as soon as legislation is passed.

So what do you need to do?  

Old NLC –  If you have a license in CO, WI, NM or RI, you are going to need to get a single state license if your permanent residence is in one of these states and it must be issued by 1/19/18 in order for you to practice.

I would tell any nurse that is planning on traveling to CO, WI, NM, RI or holding a multi-state license from one of these states on a travel contract to call the board of nursing and get the correct license to practice.  I would call ASAP too since these states are starting to get a bunch of requests due to these new laws.  Here is a cheat sheet I have created to help you get in touch with the board of nursing for any state.

New eNLC – If your current permanent residence is in one of these states, then your state will be compact starting in January of 2018!  Hooray for you!  I still would advise to reach out to the board to make sure there are no changes you will need to make to ensure that you have an official compact license. Again, Here is that cheat sheet I mentioned above that should have the state board of nursing contact information for all of the states.

More Details and FAQs

I have tried to explain everything in simple terms, but if you can’t get enough and you still want to read more details, you can find the direct links to the NCSBN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) below.  And as always, if you want my specific advice on your situation, just send me an email to Mike@TravelNursingClassroom.com

If you think a friend would benefit from this knowledge, do your good deed for the day and please pass it on and share it with them!


Below are some FAQs from the NCSBN website that might help you as well;

  • What is the eNLC implementation date?

January 19, 2018

  • When does the eNLC go into effect?

The enhanced eNLC went into effect July 20, 2017, when 26 states enacted the eNLC legislation. The significance of this date is that the compact was officially enacted and the eNLC commission can begin to meet, draft rules, policies and set an implementation date. The effective date is not the same as the implementation date, which is when nurses can practice in eNLC states that have started issuing eNLC multistate licenses.

  • What is the difference between the effective date and the implementation date?

Based on the legislation, the effective date of the eNLC was designated as “the earlier of the date of legislative enactment of this Compact into law by no less than twenty-six (26) states or December 31, 2018.” The eNLC was enacted in the 26th state on July 20, 2017, so, the effective date was set as July 20, 2017. On this date, the compact’s governing body, the Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators (“the Commission”) was formed and could begin meeting and performing the work of the compact. The Commission is charged with drafting rules and policies to govern the operations and implementation of the eNLC.

By contrast, the implementation date, is a date set by the Commission on which eNLC states begin issuing multistate licenses and when nurses holding multistate licenses may start to practice in eNLC states.

  • When will nurses have multistate licenses in eNLC states?

Nurses in the original NLC states that were grandfathered into the eNLC will be able to practice in eNLC states as of the implementation date, Jan. 19, 2018. Nurses in new states that joined the eNLC (Wyoming, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Georgia and Florida) will be able to practice in eNLC states upon issuance of a multistate license. Each eNLC state will notify its licensees by mail of the implementation date and the process by which a nurse can obtain a multistate license.

  • What happens to nurses in the original compact if their state does not pass the enhanced NLC legislation?

States that do not pass the eNLC will remain in the original NLC until: a) the state enacts the eNLC, b) the state withdraws from the original NLC or c) the original NLC ends due to having less than two states as members. As of now, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico and Rhode Island are members of the original NLC that have not yet joined the eNLC. These states plan to introduce legislation in 2018 or sooner.

  • What happens to the original NLC after the enhanced NLC starts?

Once the eNLC is implemented, the original NLC will continue to operate until there are less than two states as members, at which time it will end. As of Jan. 19, 2018, the 21 states in the original NLC that enacted the eNLC will cease to be members of the original NLC. This means that a nurse in Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico and Rhode Island will then hold a multistate license valid in four states rather than 25 states, and will need to obtain additional licensure in order to practice in any of the eNLC states.  Conversely, it also means that nurses in the eNLC will no longer have the authority to practice in those four states, and will need to obtain additional licensure in order to practice in the state.

  • Which nurses are grandfathered into the enhanced NLC and what does that mean?

Nurses in eNLC states that were members of the original NLC may be grandfathered into the eNLC. Nurses who held a multistate license prior to the eNLC effective date of July 20, 2017, in original NLC states, will not need to meet the requirements for an eNLC multistate license. They are automatically grandfathered. Nurses issued a multistate license after July 20, 2017, will be required to meet the eNLC multistate license requirements.

  • Why was there a change to the enhanced NLC from the original NLC?

The original NLC began in 2000 and grew to 24 member states by 2010. From 2010 to 2015, one more state joined. A primary reason identified for the slowed adoption of the NLC was the lack of uniform criminal background check (CBC) requirements among NLC states. As a result, the eNLC requires that all member states implement CBCs for all applicants upon initial licensure or licensure by endorsement. This revision, along with other significant updates, will remove barriers that kept other states from joining. The eNLC will make it possible to get closer to the goal of all states joining the eNLC.

  • How does the eNLC differ from the original NLC?

Primarily, the eNLC adopts 11 uniform licnesure requirements (ULRs) in order for an applicant to obtain a multistate license. One of those requirements is submission to federal and state fingerprint-based criminal background checks.  A fact sheet identifies the key provisions of the eNLC legislation and highlights the differences between the two compacts.

  • Who are the primary proponents of a state’s decision to join the compact?

Most states that have joined the compact have done so by the supportive efforts of the state nurse association, the state hospital association or the state board of nursing. A number of other stakeholder organizations (e.g., AARP, AONE, National Military Family Association, etc.) have played significant roles in advancing the legislation.

  • Why are some states still not a member of the compact? What is the opposition?

Essentially, we have just met the minimum number of states (26) for the eNLC to become effective. This includes five states that were not in the original NLC. Additionally, more states plan to introduce eNLC legislation in 2018 and beyond. The eNLC removes barriers that prevented some states from joining.

Support for the NLC is overwhelming in the nursing community. According to 2014 NCSBN nurse and employer surveys, 80 to 90 percent of nurses and greater than 90 percent of employers want their state to be a member of the NLC.

The main opposition to the compact, seen in only a few states, has been from nurse union organizations.

  • Why would a nurse need a multistate (compact) license? What are the benefits for a nurse?

Nurses benefit from a multistate license for a variety of reasons. The foremost reason is that a nurse will not need individual licenses in each state where the nurse needs authority to practice. Obtaining individual licenses is a burdensome, costly and time-consuming process to achieve portability and mobility. Nurses are required to be licensed in the state where the recipient of nursing practice is located at the time service is provided. Any nurse who needs to practice in a variety of states benefits significantly from a multistate license. These nurses include military spouses, telehealth nurses, case managers, nurse executives, nurses living on borders, nurses engaged in remote patient monitoring, school nurses, travel nurses, call center nurses, online nursing faculty, home health nurses, nurses doing follow up care and countless more.

  • How will the transition from NLC to eNLC affect employers of nurses?

The transition will effect employers in several ways. The transition may impact employers in eNLC states that have nurses practicing in the four states that remain in the original NLC. As of the implementation date, those nurses with an eNLC multistate license will not have the authority to practice in those four states without applying for a single state license in those states.

The eNLC transition may also impact employers in original NLC states who have nurses practicing in the 21 former original NLC states that joined the eNLC. As of Jan. 19, 2018, those nurses with an original NLC multistate license will not have the authority to practice in eNLC states without applying for a single state license in those states.

Nurses residing in eNLC states who are not eligible to be grandfathered may not have a multistate license on the January 19, 2018 implementation date until they have completed an eligibility process.  This process will determine if the licensee meets the licensure requirements for a multistate license.  In some eNLC states, the nurse may need to proactively engage in this eligibility process.  By October 2018, nurses in all eNLC states should receive a letter from the respective board of nursing with more information.

I hope that helps!  Don’t forget to pass on the information!


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