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In order to become a nurse in your state of residence, you must have a registered nurse license or a practical nursing license issued by your state board. And the only way to obtain the necessary credentials in order to practice in the healthcare industry is to meet all of your state’s requirements and apply for the desired nursing certification. The requirements for a license in this industry will vary from one state to the next, but because of the importance of the profession, the qualifications are typically strict and require a great deal of schooling and preparation. In any case, before you approach the process of applying for your desired license in nursing, it is also important that you become familiar with a number of other important licensing procedures. Because the nursing application procedure is not the only time you will be dealing with your state board’s office, you should learn much more than just how to apply for nursing license documentation when you are considering this career. You should also learn about the process of renewing your credentials, replacing a lost license (when necessary) and more. And depending on your specific situation, the steps that you will need to take in order to apply for, renew or replace a nursing license can vary greatly. For instance, there are certain nursing applicants who will not need to file a new application, but can instead apply for a license for nursing by way of endorsement. To learn all about these important processes and what each of them entails, take a look at the sections below.

Types of Nursing Licenses

When considering a career in the nursing profession, it is important to note the various different nursing licenses provided by your state board, including:

  • The certified nursing assistant license – As a certified nursing assistant, you are the primary caregiver of your patient, completing tasks such as bathing, dressing and feeding. While you do not need a bachelor’s degree to obtain this license, you must have a high school diploma.
  • The practical nurse license – Licensed practical nurses fulfill their duties under the direct supervision of physicians or registered nurses. In order to become an LPN, you do not need a bachelor’s degree, but you must have a high school diploma and completed the necessary training course.
  • The registered nurse license – Registered nurses perform a variety of duties, including tracking patient histories and symptoms, administering medication and assisting physicians in exams. You must at least hold an associate’s degree in order to get an RN license.
  • The advanced practice registered nurse license – To obtain an advanced nursing license, you must go through post-graduate education in the field of nursing. By going through the appropriate program, you can get a job as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialty, certified nursing midwife or certified registered nurse anesthetist.

Nursing License Applications

The first thing you must ask yourself when you are applying for nursing license credentials in your state of residence is whether or not you meet the necessary qualifications. As mentioned before, these eligibility requirements will vary from state to state. Additionally, depending on if you are applying by examination or endorsement, you will have to go through different steps.

If you are applying for a registered nurse license, then you will have to complete a state-approved nursing education program that meets all of your state board’s requirements. Once you have done so, you will be able to submit a paper application to the board of nursing and register to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Then, once you pass the state board exam and pay the testing and nursing license application fees, you will receive your documentation.

On the other hand, if you are applying for endorsement or nursing license reciprocity (depending on which your state offers), then you will be able to practice your profession as long as you meet your new state’s licensure, testing and education requirements. However, endorsements typically require a review process, whereas reciprocity is accepted in certain states under a previously accepted nurse licensure compact and simply allows nurses to begin practicing in other states without filling out additional applications.

Nursing License Renewal

Just like driver’s licenses and recreational licenses, nursing licenses expire after a certain period of time. When they do finally expire, it is the responsibility of the licensees to renew them. The process to renew nursing license credentials varies from state to state, not only in the steps that are necessary to complete the process but also in the length of license validity. Although most states require nursing license renewal every two years, some states allow you to hold on to your current credentials longer, while others require you to renew more frequently.

In any case, as mentioned before, the process for renewing nursing license credentials varies from one state to the next. Some states allow you to renew your documentation online or by mail, while others require you to send your documents by mail and do not provide any other options. When you are submitting your request for a nursing license renewal to your state’s board of nursing, be sure to include payment for the applicable fee. And be mindful that if you do not renew your documentation when you are required to do so, you will be fined for practicing without valid nursing credentials.

Nursing License Replacement

In the event your license for nursing is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, then you must apply for a duplicate nursing license. Practicing your profession without valid nursing credentials is a violation of the law, and if you are caught doing so, you will be fined. So in order to avoid these fines and any suspension from work, the best thing to do is to learn how to replace nursing license documentation. Fortunately, the process is typically very simple.

Depending on your state of residence, there may be a number of ways that you can request a copy of nursing license documents. Some states will allow you to replace credentials online or by mail, whereas others may only provide the mail-in option. Regardless of the case, be sure to include payment for the nursing license replacement fee in order to make sure your application is processed correctly. But just as the steps of the replacement process vary from one state to another, so too do the fees you will have to pay.

Nursing License Update

In the event you have recently changed your name or moved to or within your state of residence, then you must notify your state’s board of nursing and apply for an updated nursing license. Fortunately, the process to obtain a duplicate nursing license with your new information is the same as applying for a replacement when your credentials have been lost. The only difference is that you will have to provide a marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree in order to perform a nursing license name change. As for updating your address, acceptable proofs of your move can include a recent utility bill, bank statement or mortgage agreement.

In addition to the documents that prove your recent life event, you will also have to fill out a nursing license application for the copy and submit payment for the applicable fee. Keep in mind that fees will vary from state to state. is a privately owned website that is not affiliated with any government agencies.