As a travel nurse, you have a lot to keep track of. 

New apartment rentals, bills, potential and upcoming nursing assignments, and your nursing license. 

When you move around so much, it can be tough to remember how often you’re supposed to renew your nursing license — especially when states have different renewal requirements. 

Our guide makes it easy. We’ll outline nursing requirements for each state and what you need to do to renew when it’s time. 

 

when does rn license expire

 

Table of Contents

Travel Nurses: How Long Is a Nursing License Good For?

The requirement for renewing your nursing license will vary depending on what state you live in. Some require renewal every year, some every two years, others every four. 

In many states, you’ll also need to prove that you’ve maintained your nursing skills and are up-to-date with nursing advances, mainly by completing continued education hours. 

 

how long is a nursing license good for

 

When Does a RN License Expire for Travel Nurses?

For a travel nurse, a state license unlocks unlimited potential for new assignments and adventure.

With a compact state license, a travel nurse would have access to nursing positions in 25 states. 

But, because new nursing license requirements vary by state, so do renewal requirements. 

Below, we’ll review different timelines for renewal by state, so you can be prepared for whatever your current or future state requires. 

States That Require Nursing License Renewal Annually

There are currently five US states that require nursing license renewal every year. 

The states that require all practicing nurses to renew annually are:

  1. Connecticut 
  2. Kentucky
  3. West Virginia
  4. Louisiana; and
  5. Washington

Additional Licensing Requirements for These States

If you live in Connecticut, you’ve got it good. No contact hours are required to renew your license. 

The other four states that require yearly renewal aren’t so easy. 

Nurses in Kentucky can choose from one of eight different options to complete their contact hours, plus complete a number of specific class requirements.

Nurse licensure renewal occurs every year between September 15 – October 31 in Kentucky. 

In Louisiana, full-time nurses must complete a minimum of 5 contact hours in order to renew their license. 

As of June 2021, the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC) reduced education and active nursing practice hour requirements and changed the reporting period. 

Now, nurses looking to renew their license must complete at least eight hours of continuing education per year and at least 96 hours of active nursing practice.

Depending on when you were licensed in West Virginia, your continuing education requirements may consist of 30 contact hours or less. 

 

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States That Require Nursing License Renewal Every 2 Years

The majority of US states require nurses to renew their license every two years. 

These states include:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

 
The majority of these states are also part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which removes complications for travel nurses practicing in multiple states. 

The eNCL makes choosing your next assignment that much easier, since it eliminates the hoops you need to jump through to maintain your nursing license. 

Additional Licensing Requirements for These States

The additional requirements for license renewal in these states vary greatly. 

While …

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut 
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri
  • Vermont; and 
  • Wisconsin

require zero additional contact hours or continuing education units, other states do. 

Pennsylvania, for example, is not part of the eNCL and requires nurses to complete 30 hours of continuing education (CE) in order to renew their license. 

How long you’ve been a licensed nurse in Wyoming will determine your renewal requirements for continued education:

  • If employed for at least 400 hours in the past 2 years, you do not need to complete any additional CEUs (continuing education hours).
  • If employed 200 hours in the past 2 years, you will need to complete 15 continuing education hours.
  • If employed less than 200 hours in the past 2 years, you will need to complete 30 continuing education hours.

For a final comparison, in the state of Oregon, nurses looking to renew their license must also complete two hours of Cultural Competence CE

While it may seem daunting to remember all of these different timelines and requirements, remember: You only need to renew your nursing license in your primary state of residency. 

So, let’s say Wyoming is not your primary state of residency, but you do have a multistate license through your primary state of residency. This means you do not have to renew your Wyoming license. 

States That Require Nursing License Renewal Every 3 Years

The only state that requires travel nurses to renew their license every three years is Iowa.

Iowa is a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). The eNLC removes complications for nurses practicing in multiple states. 

Nurses from eNCL states can work across state lines without having to worry about applying for licensure in each state or being burdened by multiple renewal requirements and fees. 

Additional Licensing Requirements for These States

Iowa requires 36 contact hours to become complete come renewal. 

Nurses who regularly …

  • Examine
  • Attend
  • Counsel; or 
  • Treat 

… dependent adults or children must also complete two contact hours of training related to the identification and reporting of child/dependent adult abuse.

States That Require Nursing License Renewal Every 4 Years

There are only two states in the US who require nursing licensure renewal every four years:

  • Arizona; and
  • New York

One is part of the eNCL, while one is not. If you are considering taking a job in New York state, you’ll want to pay close attention.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with renewal requirements and timelines, talk to one of the recruiters at Trusted Nurse Staffing. They are here to help you through every step of your travel nursing experience. 

 

how long is a nursing license good for

 

Additional Licensing Requirements for These States

Arizona is a compact state, which means you do not need to apply for licensure renewal in AZ unless it is your primary state of residency. 

To renew a nursing license in Arizona, nurses must meet one of the following practice requirements:

  • Practiced as a nurse for 960 hours or more in the past 5 years; OR
  • Graduated from a nursing program and obtained a degree within past 5 years; OR
  • Completed an Arizona Board approved refresher course in the past 5 years; OR
  • Obtained an advanced nursing degree in the past 5 years (i.e. LPN to RN, RN to BSN, masters, or doctorate)

New York, on the other hand, is not currently a compact state. 

RNs are required to complete infection control contact hours every 4 years, or qualify for an exemption

How Long Is an LPN License Good For?

The LPN license renewal requirements also vary by state. Most states operate on a renewal cycle of two years. 

As with renewing an RN license, it’s best practice to check with your state of residency’s nursing board to see how often they require renewal of your LPN license and what additional requirements, if any, there are. 

LPN License Renewal Requirements

Many US states also require a certain number of contact hours for LPN license renewal.

Some also have specific continuing education requirements related to particular clinical topics. 

As with checking your state of residency’s renewal timeline, you’ll also want to check their continuing education and contact hour requirements to renew. 

 

how long is a nursing license good for

 

How to Renew a Compact State Nursing License for a Travel Nurse

Navigating your nursing license renewal can be tricky. But, stick to these simple steps, have all your necessary paperwork and contact hours complete, and you’ll be good to go.

To renew a compact state nursing license as a travel nurse, you’ll need to:

  • Know your state of residence; and
  • Understand and follow the renewal guidelines for your state of residence

And before you ask — yes. Nurses can apply for licensure in a compact state even if they have a non-compact state of residency. The only caveat will be that the license is limited to that individual state. 

For more information on compact state nursing license, check out Trusted Nurse Staffing’s  State Licensure Guide

Bonus: Tips for Completing Your Continuing Education and Licensing Requirements

Looking at the continuing education requirements for some states can be daunting and make you want to swear off ever taking an assignment there. 

But before you cross it off your possibilities list, make note of these tips to help you complete your contact hours on time:

  • Check in and see if the facility you’re currently working at offers any CEU courses.
  • States often feature a number of recommended and available CEU classes on their nursing board websites (and they’re approved by the board).
  • Look into conferences in your area or areas you’d like to explore. 

And lastly, did you know that as a travel nurse, your staffing agency can help you renew? Read on to see how travel nurses with TNS can get help with their license renewals. 

Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help With Your Licensing Requirements

Trusted Nurse Staffing has a handy Trusted CEU Tool to help you understand how and where to complete your required continuing education units.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just looking to get started on your first travel nurse assignment, or you’re ready for a new adventure, your recruiter at TNS is here to help you every step of the way through your travel nursing experience. 

Trusted Nurse Staffing offers:

  • Reimbursement for any licensure 
  • Top pay rates
  • Medical benefits for the entire family
  • Dental and vision benefits
  • 401(k)
  • And much, much more

Explore other benefits and get started with TNS today. 

 

how long is a nursing license good for