To be eligible to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN, in any state, you must have a valid LPN license of that state. To obtain an LPN license in any state, you must complete LPN training in that state or in another state or jurisdiction and take and pass the NCLEX-PN licensing exam in that state. Should you decide to move or otherwise end up needing to work as an LPN elsewhere, you'll have to transfer your license to that state. Luckily, this isn't usually very difficult. Find out the ins and outs of transferring an LPN license below.
Transfer Your LPN License to Another State Through Reciprocity - Here's some great news: Most of the time, you don't have to do much at all to transfer an LPN license to another state. That's because most states participate in LPN license reciprocity, which means that as long as a multistate LPN license is valid in one state, all participating states will accept it as well. Of course, there is always the chance that your state does not participate or that the state to which you are moving doesn't. However, assuming that both states permit reciprocity, here is what you need to know:
- Board of Nursing Site - The best way to find out whether or not you can transfer your LPN license to another state through reciprocity is by contacting your state board of nursing and asking. Most of the time, this information is readily available on the board of nursing website, so check there first. If reciprocity is allowed, the site should have instructions that explain how to proceed. The process varies from one state to the next, so it is important to check with your specific state for accurate information.
- Nurse Licensure Compact States - Officially, the states that allow LPN licenses to be transferred via reciprocity agreements are known as Nurse License Compact states, or NLC states. When you initially obtain your LPN license, you may be informed that your state is an NLC state. If so, this simply means that you should be able to transfer your license to other NLC states without any trouble.
Transfer Your LPN License via Nursys - As an LPN, you are probably already familiar with Nursys. This is a nationwide registry, or database, that tracks nursing licenses. While most people associate Nursys with RN licenses, the database covers licensed practical nurses as well. If you hold an LPN license in one state, but want to work as an LPN in a different state, start by checking out Nursys. Most states participate in it; the exceptions are Alaska, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Via the Nursys website, you should be able to request the transfer of your LPN license to another state. The board of nursing of the state where you want to start working can quickly confirm the validity of your information through the powerful Nursys database. Once your information has been verified, you'll be asked to pay a small fee. Most recently, it was around $30 per jurisdiction. If you only need to transfer your license to one state, you will pay around $30.
- Transfer Your LPN License via Endorsement - In the unfortunate event that the state where you currently work or the one where you'd like to work is not a Nurse Licensure Compact state, you are not out of luck. Many states will allow you to start working as an LPN under a special endorsement. In the meantime, the new state verifies your information to determine whether any additional steps are needed. Sometimes, it may be determined that additional training is required. Usually, however, this is almost as easy as reciprocity - it just takes a little longer.
- Transfer Your LPN License "Manually" - If your state does not participate in reciprocity and you don't have any luck getting an endorsement from your new state, you're going to have to jump through a few more hoops. To work as an LPN in the new state, you have to prove that you meet its licensing requirements. Licensing requirements for LPNs are fairly uniform across most states, but there are exceptions. If the requirements of your old state fall short of those for the new one, you may have some extra work to do. Most commonly, LPNs have to take continuing education credits to get brought up to speed with licensing requirements. This can be frustrating because it means having to wait a little longer for the transfer to happen.
- Retake the Licensing Exam - In very rare cases, there is no real way to transfer an LPN license from one state to another. Sometimes, the requirements vary too much between two states. Other times, reciprocity and other options aren't available because a license has lapsed or because it has been too long since training was completed. Under these very rare circumstances, you may be forced to take the NCLEX-PN licensing exam again. You may even have to undergo training again first. This is a prime example of why it is so important to maintain your LPN license and to periodically verify that it is still valid. Without doing so, you could find yourself in a situation where your only option is to basically start over again. Since you've done it before, however, the second time around should be that much easier.
Even if you never plan to move to another state, it pays to know what to do if and when you need to transfer your LPN license. After all, unexpected things happen in life. If you need to move at some point, you'll be glad that you know what to do to keep working as an LPN regardless of which state to move to.