Tips to Ensure Speedy Processing of your ANCC Certification Renewal

Todd Peterson


September 27, 2007

So it's time to apply for the renewal of your certification! "Did 5 years go by that quickly?" you ask. Fortunately, you are a true professional. You have a professional development plan: you've been tracking your CNEs, your practice hours, grand rounds, lectures, preceptorships, research, articles, and/or academic credit. You know your certification expiration date because it is on your certificate, and you began filling out your renewal application 6 months before it was due. But you got a call from a patient, or a family member, or something else happened, and it got away from you. Suddenly it is only 2 months until your certification expires and you are worried, thinking, "I have to get this in now, but will it be finished in time to prevent my certification from lapsing?"

The following are a number of tips to help ensure speedy processing of your renewal application. But first, it may be helpful to give you an overview of what the actual process is

After you drop the application in the mail on its way to P.O. Box 791333, Baltimore, MD 21279-1333, your application's first stop is in our bank lock box, where it is retrieved by bank personnel. Their only job is to take your check or credit card information and process it. If you provided a credit card, they will only charge the amount of money that you authorize in the payment section of your application, even if the amount you indicated is not the right amount. It generally takes 2 to 3 days before your application will arrive in our Silver Spring, MD headquarters from the bank lock box in Baltimore.

Your application arrives at headquarters in a batch with many others and the finance clerk posts a record of your payment. It is then routed to the data entry person who enters all the information on your application, paying particular attention to updating your address, email address, and employer information. Once all the information has been updated, it is sent to one of the registrars, who check that you have fulfilled all the requirements.

Because renewal applications tend to come in waves, your application may be one of thousands that are being processed during a given period; it may need to wait in the queue to have its turn with the registrar. Once it gets to the registrar, if everything is correct, you will be renewed from the moment the registrar gives their approval. Once the registrar completes your application approval, a new wall certificate and pin will be ordered for you. Certificate orders are processed monthly, so there may be a 6 to 8 week period before you receive your renewal packet.

When applications arrive complete, the process is streamlined and painless. When they arrive with problems, however, applications incur delays while the registrars contact the applicant to clear up the problem. Here is a list of tips to insure that your application doesn't go into the 'pending' category.


1. Submit the Correct Fees
The most common application mistake is to send the wrong fees. There is often confusion over the terms 'member rate' and 'discount rate.' The member rate is for current members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) or its constituent member associations. The discount rate is for the benefit of members of ANCC collaborating organizations but only applies to the exams on which that organization collaborates (in other words, you can't be an ACNP member, which is a collaborator on NP exams, and receive a discount for the Pain Management Certification.) If you are paying with a credit card, be sure to note the amount you want charged to your card. Please use the most current renewal application available on the ANCC website to ensure that you do not have an application with outdated fees or information printed in it.

2. Include a Copy of Applicable Membership Cards
If you belong to one of ANCC's collaborating organizations and qualify for a discount on a corresponding exam, you will need to provide evidence of your membership in the form of a photocopy of your membership card or certificate. Forgetting to attach required documents such as this is a significant cause of delayed processing.

3. Sign the Statement of Understanding
You are required to read and sign that statement of understanding, just as you did on your initial certification application. Many applications are delayed pending signatures.

4. Include ALL Required Information
Be sure to write your RN license number, state, and expiration date on the application, in the license section.

5. Follow the 50% Rule
If you are using continuing nursing education (CNE) contact hours* as one of the 2 categories of professional development that you are required to complete for your certification renewal, 50% of the CNEs must be from an ANCC-accredited or ANCC-approved provider. You can find a list at the following web page:

6. Follow the 51% Rule
A majority (51%) of your contact hours must be related to your specialty. General nursing continuing education will be accepted for the other 49%.

7. Practice Hours
Please consider the total number of hours you have practiced over the past 5 years. You need to have at least 1000 hours (2000 hours for Nursing Professional Development).

8. Don't Wait to the Last Minute!
A common misconception is that certification renewal is something you do every 5 years. In reality, it is an ongoing process, which we like to call a Personal Professional Development Plan. You should start planning it at the beginning of your certification period, not at the end. Try to take advantage of different kinds of professional development, rather than only contact hours: precept, do research, write an article for a peer-reviewed journal, or go out and make presentations. Remember that you must fulfill 2 categories of professional development.

9. Get Organized
It is important to create a system for collecting documentation of your professional development. Everyone has their own way, but being organized will save you time and aggravation and potentially a great deal of money. For some, a simple paper file is sufficient. Others have employer-based systems they use. One option that will allow you to electronically organize, manage, communicate, and secure your important professional documentation and accomplishments is the ANCC-recommended Critical Portfolio by Decision Critical. With any system, online or otherwise, it is only as effective as your consistency in entering information and maintaining it.

If you keep these tips in mind, it will make a big difference in expediting the processing of both your application and those of your certified-nurse colleagues.


This content is provided by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for publication on the web site.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC) internationally renowned credentialing programs certify nurses in specialty practice areas, recognize healthcare organizations for nursing excellence through the Magnet Recognition Program®, and accredit providers of continuing nursing education. In addition, ANCC offers an array of informational and educational services and products to support its core credentialing programs.

ANCC is passionate about helping nurses on their journey to nursing excellence. Visit ANCC's web site at

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA).


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