Enhanced Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact Implemented

Troy Brown, RN

January 25, 2018

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has added new requirements to the Nurse Licensure Compact, an interstate agreement that allows nurses to practice in multiple states with one license.

The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) adds state and federal criminal background checks, restricts licensure for nurses with felony convictions, and standardizes licensure requirements among participating states. The implementation date for the eNLC was January 19, 2018.

"Although these nurses may skip the licensing process in the eNLC states, they still must follow the laws and nurse practice act of each state where a patient is located. The eNLC affects registered nurses and licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses; it does not apply to advanced practice nurses," healthcare attorney Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD, writes in an article for Medscape Medical News published November 1, 2017.

Maryland signed the original NLC into law in 2000. It enables registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses licensed in one compact state to practice in other compact states without having to obtain an additional license. Advanced practice nurses are not included in the compact.

Proponents of the compact say it enables nurses to provide direct nursing care and telenursing services to patients located across the United States without having to obtain multiple licenses. The compact also facilitates the movement of nurses across state borders to provide care during disasters and reduces licensing burdens for nurses who live in areas that border two or more states.


The enhanced version adds the requirement of a criminal background check (state and federal) at the time of initial licensure and restricts nurses from obtaining a multistate license if they have ever been convicted of a felony. In addition, the eNLC requires compact states to adopt the NCSBN's Uniform Licensure Requirements, which "establish consistent standards for initial, endorsement, renewal and reinstatement licensure needed," according to the American Nurses Association.

"Nurses who had a multistate license as of July 20, 2017, will not need to meet these requirements and will be grandfathered in under whatever requirements they met at the time of their application. However, if they move to another state, they will be subject to the requirements of the eNLC," Buppert explains.

To date, 29 states have enacted eNLC legislation: Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Maine.

eNLC legislation is pending in Vermont, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey. That legislation must be signed by the states' governors after advancing through the states' legislatures.

Nurses in good standing whose declared primary state of residence is a compact state are eligible to practice nursing in any of the other compact states; however, they are only allowed to have one license. As with drivers' licenses, nurses who change their state of residence must obtain a new license in the new state and surrender the former multistate license.

Nurses whose primary states of residence are noncompact states are not eligible for a compact license, according to the NCSBN.

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