March 20, 2024

How to Get a Compact Nursing License in North Carolina

A nurse sits outside in a park with trees and looks at her phone.

Nursing professionals in North Carolina now experience the advantages of increased professional mobility thanks to the adoption of the National Licensure Compact (NLC). The integration of the NLC enables nurses in North Carolina to secure a multi-state license (MSL), affording them the flexibility to practice in various states without the need for additional licenses.

In the following sections, we'll explore all you need to know to begin the process of applying for your multi-state license.

Is North Carolina a compact nursing state?

Yes, North Carolina joined the NLC in 2018. 

How to apply for a compact nursing license in North Carolina

While the Nurse Licensure Compact facilitates cross-state nursing practice, nurses must submit their licensure applications through the North Carolina Board of Nursing. 

There are three main application types for nurses in NC:

  1. License renewal or reinstatement: This is for nurses who have or had a current NC nursing license. Learn more about renewals in NC >
  2. License by examination: This generally applies to new nurses who have not yet obtained a license in any state. Successful completion and passing of the NCLEX-RN exam will be required to obtain your nursing license. Learn more about license by examination in NC >
  3. License by endorsement: This applies if you have a nursing license in another state but need to be able to practice in North Carolina too. Learn more about license by endorsement > 

For the latest and most accurate information on compact licenses in NC, it's advisable to visit the official website of the North Carolina Board of Nursing.

NC nurses should be aware that starting Jan. 2, 2024, a new NLC rule went into effect. The rule states that nurses relocating to another compact state have 60 days from the time they move to apply for a new license by endorsement in a new primary state of residence.

Requirements for a compact nursing license in North Carolina

  • Meet all the established licensure prerequisites in North Carolina
  • Successfully graduate from an RN program approved by the Board
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN examination
  • Maintain an active, unencumbered license
  • Complete a state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background check
  • Demonstrate a clean record with no convictions or disciplinary actions related to nursing practice felonies or misdemeanors
  • If participating in an alternative program, disclose such participation
  • Possess a valid Social Security number issued in the United States

Why get a compact nursing license?

A compact nursing license in North Carolina comes with several benefits for nursing professionals. Here are some reasons why nurses might find it advantageous:

  • Increased mobility and flexibility in choosing work locations
  • Particularly suitable for travel nurses or those expecting frequent relocations
  • Economizes time and expenses associated with maintaining licenses across multiple states
  • Opens up a broader spectrum of career opportunities
  • Facilitates seamless care for patients relocating across state lines
  • Enables swift response to emergency and disaster situations spanning multiple states
  • Expands opportunities for practicing via telehealth

Checking the status of your compact nursing license

For easy verification of your compact nursing license status, you can use Nursys’s online verification tools

Ready to get your compact license?

North Carolina's active participation in the Nurse Licensure Compact offers exciting opportunities for nurses in the state. Stay updated by referring to the North Carolina Board of Nursing website for the latest information and updates. For a deeper understanding of compact licenses and a comprehensive list of states in the NLC, explore our compact nursing states blog.

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