Renew Your Nursing License Before It Expires: 5 Things To Know - NurseJournal (2023)

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Written by Gayle Morris Click to Read Full Biography Contributing Writer

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN has over two decades of nursing practice with a clinical focus in rehabilitation medicine. She has published and lectured throughout her career. Morris founded Indiana's first conference for school teachers focusing on the medi...

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Published April 4, 2023

Nursing license renewal rules vary depending on the state. Check out what crucial rules you need to know and how to renew an expired nursing license.

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  • Nurses cannot practice without an active nursing license from their state's board of nursing, which must be periodically renewed depending on the state requirements.
  • Nurses who practice without an active license face possible suspension or probation on their license, a fine, a misdemeanor criminal charge, or a felony charge in states with enhanced penalties.
  • Nurses should know the dates their nursing license must be renewed, the renewal rules in their state, the fees, and any required continuing education hours.

To practice nursing, you must have an active nursing license from your state's board of nursing. Renewing that license is a requirement to keep your job. Some healthcare institutions track when the staff's nursing licenses expire since they may incur fines for allowing an unlicensed nurse to practice.

The renewal period and requirements for renewal vary by state. Discover what you can expect when you renew your state nursing license and five factors you might want to know about the renewal process.

How to Renew Your Nursing License Before It Expires

The easiest and simplest way to renew your nursing license is to do it before it expires. If you plan to discontinue practicing, you may request to make the license inactive with your state's board of nursing.

Once the nursing license has expired, many states place the license on inactive status. Depending on the rules of your state, you may need to pay an additional renewal fee or take a board-approved re-entry program or refresher courses. While the process may vary by state, these are the general steps required to renew your nursing license before it expires.

1 | Start the Process Early

Take time to check your state's requirements for nursing continuing education (CE) credits or practice hours and ensure you have the proper documentation to fulfill the requirement. Check the status of your nursing license and learn the timetable your state's board of nursing uses to renew nursing licenses.

For instance, if your state requires six weeks to approve the renewal but you finalize the application within three weeks of expiration, you may not be able to work until the license is renewed, depending on your state.

2 | Complete Prerequisite CE or Practice Requirements

Some states have a specified number of CE hours that must be completed and submitted to renew your nursing license. Other states may have specific CE courses that must be completed. For example, Pennsylvania requires all nurses to complete a child abuse CE for license renewal.

States may also have practice requirements, like Delaware which requires nurses to have 1,000 practice hours in the past five years, 400 practice hours in the past two years, or a refresher course in the past two years.

Finally, some states have no requirements to renew your expired nursing license.

3 | Check the Status of Your License

Typically, you can check the status of your nursing license through the board of nursing website or state portal. You want to ensure it is currently active and there are no infractions against your license that may have been filed.

4 | Complete the Application

Most, if not all, states have the option to renew your nursing license online if it has not expired. Take care to use the recommended hardware and software to access the state portal. Some states recommend using the Internet Explorer browser as other browsers will result in technical difficulties.

You may also need to access the portal using a computer and not a phone, tablet, or iPad. You will need access to legal information such as your social security number, legal address, nursing license number, and date of birth.

5 | Pay the Application Fee

The cost to renew a soon-to-be expired nursing license varies by state. Your state's board of nursing website or portal will outline the fees involved, which may be higher if you allowed your nursing license to expire.

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What to Do if Your Nursing License Expires

If your nursing license expires before you are able to renew, there are options. However, options vary by state and there are consequences for working with an expired nursing license.

Expired Nursing License Grace Period

The renewal requirements differ for nurses with newly expired licenses or if the license has expired for two, five, or more years. Many states have a grace period for nurses who are late renewing their expired nursing licenses.

For example, Michigan has a 60-day grace period and Georgia has a 30-day grace period where you can renew your license, with an additional late fee, without going through relicensure. Every board of nursing can determine if and for how long they may extend a grace period for renewal.

Most states that have a grace period allow you to renew your expired nursing license online. However, once you are past the grace period, you often have to submit additional documentation for relicensure. You must contact the board of nursing in your state to determine any additional steps necessary to renew an expired nursing license.

These steps can include catching up on CE hours, a refresher course, or retaking the National Council Licensure Examination.

Consequences of Working with an Expired Nursing License

An active license is the law for nurses who want to practice nursing. There are several legal consequences if you break the law. In most states, practicing without a license is a misdemeanor criminal charge, but some states have "enhanced penalties." This allows the state to charge the nurse with a felony.

It is more common for nurses to incur a fine if they work under an expired license. The size of the fine varies depending on the state. You are not allowed to work without a license and in some cases, you may be suspended or placed on probation by your state's board of nursing. Depending on the length of time you have been practicing without a license, you may also face nursing disciplinary action from your employer.

Nurses should check with their state's board of nursing to determine if they are within the state's grace period to renew their expired nursing licenses. If your license has expired and you need income before the new license is activated, there are several options available. For example, you can work as a medical assistant without a nursing license but must practice within the scope of the medical assistant job description.

Some hospitals allow nurses whose license has lapsed to work as medical assistants until the renewal has been approved. Other positions that do not require an active license include nurse educator, laboratory technician, health information technician, and clinical research associate.

5 Things to Know About the Nursing License Renewal Process

Nurses must renew their licenses but the process and procedure can vary depending on their home state. These are the five things you need to know about renewing your nursing license no matter where you live.

  • Know Your Nursing License Expiration Date

    Your nursing license has an expiration date that varies depending on the state. It can be from 1-4 years. You should find out the date your license expires from your state's board of nursing and mark it on your calendar to start the renewal process 60 days before it expires.

  • Know the Renewal Rules in Your State

    Every state has different renewal periods and different rules for nurses who miss submitting a renewal application. Some states have grace periods during which you can submit an application with a late fee without going through relicensure. Other states require additional documentation to renew an expired nursing license. It is crucial you know the rules in your state.

  • Know the Continuing Education Requirements for Renewal

    Most states require nurses to submit continuing education hours with their license renewal application. These hours must be completed through a provider recognized by the board of nursing.

    Most states do random audits of your CE hour certification, such as California's requirements and Ohio's requirements. All states require you to keep your CE certificates for a period of no less than two years and up to six years, depending on the state.

  • Know the Online Renewal Time Period

    States open the online renewal period 90-30 days before your renewal deadline. The time period depends on the state. You must know when the portal in your state opens so you can start the process as early as possible.

  • Know How Much the Renewal Application Costs

    Renewal application cost varies by state but is usually less than $100. States use an online system to accept payment of the renewal application fees.


How much does it cost to renew CA RN license? ›

Step 3: Submit your renewal application

Your registered nurse license can be renewed online through BreEZe Online services. The fee is $190.

What is the primary purpose of licensure for professional registered nurses? ›

Licensure is the process by which boards of nursing grant permission to an individual to engage in nursing practice after determining that the applicant has attained the competency necessary to perform a unique scope of practice.

What are the requirements for nurse renewal in Michigan? ›

Michigan nurses are required to earn 25 hours of continuing education within the 2-year period preceding the date of renewal. At least 2 of these hours must be in pain and pain symptom management. No more than 12 credit hours may be earned during a 24-hour period.

Which state is easiest to get RN license? ›

Easiest states to become a nurse – Length of licensing process
  • Maine: 1-2 weeks.
  • Maryland: 2-3 days.
  • Missouri: 2 weeks.
  • Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
  • Texas: 2 weeks.
  • Vermont: 3-5 business days.

How often do you have to renew your nursing license in NY? ›

After you qualify for a license as an RN, NYSED will issue you a license parchment and a registration certificate. Your license is valid for life, unless it is surrendered, revoked, annulled, or suspended by the New York State Board of Regents.

How do I renew my RN license in Canada? ›

All nurses must renew their membership with CNO for 2023. Completing AMR involves: completing the Annual Membership Renewal (AMR) form, which includes questions about your employment status, areas of practice and education. paying an annual fee.

How do I renew my expired RN license in CA? ›

How can I renew my license? The only way to renew your license is online via BreEZe Online Services. You must have a California RN license that expires within the next 90 days or that is delinquent by no more than eight years from the last expiration date and a major credit card to renew online.

What is the difference between a professional nurse and a registered nurse? ›

Although both registered nurses and nurse practitioners focus on patient observation and care, the largest difference between the two roles is that NPs are permitted to prescribe treatments, order tests, and diagnose patients—duties normally performed by physicians—whereas RNs are not.

What are the legal standards of nursing? ›

Nurses are legally mandated to report abuse, neglect, gunshot wounds, dog bites, some communicable diseases and any unsafe and/or illegal practices done by another health care provider. Informed Consent and Refusals of Treatment which was fully detailed previously.

What are the standards of care in nursing? ›

Standards of care in nursing are guidelines that provide a foundation as to how a nurse should act, and what they should and should not do in their professional capacity. These policies and procedures are guidelines that all nurses must follow.

Does CES report expire? ›

Purpose: If your CES order is not completed within a year's time due to inactivity, it will expire. You can reprocess your expired order, which will allow you another year to submit the necessary documentation to obtain a CES Professional and/or Academic Report.

How early can I renew my nursing license in Michigan? ›

Nursing licenses are renewed every 2 years by March 31. Submission of the renewal application form certifies that the requirements are met. Licenses can be renewed during the sixty-day grace period; however, the CE's have to be met prior to the expiration date; not during the grace period.

What happens if you fail Nclex 3 times in Michigan? ›

Michigan: Michigan requires testing applicants to take the NCLEX within two years of graduating. If they fail, they'll need to wait 45 days before retesting. After failing three times, though, they'll need to complete a board-approved remediation program before the next retake.

What state has the lowest RN salary? ›

Highest-paying states for RNs, adjusted for cost of living

As of 2021, Hawaii tops the list at 119.3, while Mississippi comes in lowest, at 87.8.

What state pays the highest for RN? ›

15 Highest-Paying States for Nurses
  • California. California tops the list of 15 highest-paying states for nurses. ...
  • Hawaii. Hawaii ranks second on the list of top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. ...
  • Oregon. Oregon ranks third for highest-paying states for RNs. ...
  • Washington, D.C. ...
  • Alaska. ...
  • Massachusetts. ...
  • Washington. ...
  • New York.

How many times can you take the Nclex in New York? ›

New York: Unlimited attempts. Canada: 3 attempts maximum.

Does New York require continuing education for nurses? ›

As a nurse in the state of New York, you are required to earn continuing education to renew your active license.

How much is a New York nursing license? ›

Requirements for New York RN Licensure By Endorsement

Submit a completed online application for licensure. Pay the licensing and initial RN registration fee, currently $143. Submit certified nursing school transcripts. Provide verification of all nursing licenses held, either through Nursys or the state-provided form.

Do Canadian nursing licenses expire? ›

A hallmark of the CNA Certification Program is that it demonstrates that you are current in your chosen nursing practice specialty. This is why you have to renew your credential every five years.

Can I do my RN online in Canada? ›

The required nursing major courses are offered 100% online, therefore, the student may complete the courses in his/her hometown.

What are the requirements for RN license in Canada? ›

You must successfully complete the registration examination approved by the College for the type of nursing (RN or RPN) you want to practise. You must successfully complete the RN/RPN Jurisprudence Examination. You must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French.

How many CE hours do I need to renew my CA RN license? ›

In the State of California, Registered nurses are required by law (California Code of Regulations, Section 1451, Article 5) to complete 30 contact hours of continuing education every two years, in addition to paying the renewal fee, to maintain an active license.

How long does it take to renew RN license in CA? ›

The California Board of Registered Nursing cites a 10-12 week average turnaround for permanent nursing licenses, or 8-10 weeks for temporary licenses, once all documentation is received.

How much does it cost to take the Nclex in California? ›

As part of the application process, candidates must verify their high school education or equivalency. Applicants must pay $150 to the California Board for application processing and $200 to Pearson to take the NCLEX-PN licensing test. California must approve candidates before they can be authorized to test.

What nurse is higher than a RN? ›

Position description: To become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you must be an RN ready to take on more of a leadership role in patient care. While RNs often focus on implementing a plan of care, APRNs focus on directing a plan of care.

What is the highest level of a nurse? ›

What is the highest level of nursing? The highest level of nursing education is the doctoral level. Positions that require doctoral nursing degrees include certain types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as leadership positions such as chief nursing officer or director of nursing.

What are the 5 nursing guidelines? ›

The nursing process functions as a systematic guide to client-centered care with 5 sequential steps. These are assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation.

What are the 7 standards of nursing practice? ›

  • Governance for Safety and Quality in Health. Service Organisations.
  • Standard 2 – Partnering with Consumers.
  • Standard 3 –
  • Preventing and Controlling Healthcare. ...
  • Standard 4 – Medication Safety.
  • Standard 5 – Patient Identification and Procedure Matching.
  • Standard 6 – Clinical Handover.
  • Standard 7 – Blood and Blood Products.

What are 3 common laws involving the nursing practice? ›

These five legal issues in nursing are liable to registered nurses working in any healthcare setting:
  • Negligence or Malpractice.
  • Patient confidentiality.
  • Defamation.
  • Battery.
  • Mandatory reporting.
Jun 21, 2022

What are the 6 standards of nursing practice? ›

Standards of Practice The Standards of Practice describe a competent level of nursing care as demonstrated by the critical thinking model known as the nursing process. The nursing process includes the components of assessment, diagnosis, out- comes identification, planning, implementation, and evaluation.

What are the 6 C's nursing standard? ›

The 6 Cs – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment, competence - are a central part of 'Compassion in Practice', which was first established by NHS England Chief Nursing Officer, Jane Cummings, in December 2017.

What are the 6 principles of care nursing? ›

The six principles of the Care Act are:
  • Empowerment.
  • Protection.
  • Prevention.
  • Proportionality.
  • Partnership.
  • Accountability.
Oct 20, 2017

How do I know if I passed NCLEX? ›

Official NCLEX-RN test results are only available from your state nurse registry board. However, many states participate in the Quick Results Service, which gives "unofficial" results two business days after the test is complete.

Can I take the NCLEX if I have a DUI? ›

Yes, a DUI can affect their ability to take the NCLEX Exam. One of the questions that they may find on the NCLEX application pertains to legal convictions and board disciplinary actions. A DUI—even a first offense—may affect their ability to take the exam.

What documents are required for CES Canada? ›

Credentials Evaluation Service Professional Report®
  • Secondary School Information. A secondary school diploma or an external exam certificate showing the highest level of secondary education received. ...
  • Licenses / Registrations / Diplomas. ...
  • Professional Education Information.

What happens when a nurse is suspected of having violated the nurse Practice Act? ›

Fine or civil penalty. Referral to an alternative to discipline program for practice monitoring and recovery support (drug or alcohol dependent nurses, or in some other mental or physical conditions) Public reprimand or censure for minor violation of nurse practice act often with no restrictions on license.

Can you take the Nclex at home? ›

You can not take the NCLEX at your home. The NCLEX is administered by Pearson VUE and can only be taken at Pearson Vue testing centers.

Can unofficial Nclex results change? ›

Can Unofficial NCLEX Results Change? While your unofficial NCLEX results can change, it's unlikely unless cheating is suspected.

Can you fail NCLEX in 75 questions? ›

Can I Fail the NCLEX at 75 Questions? To pass the NCLEX RN or PN, test takers must correctly answer at least 75 questions (the minimum amount). Unfortunately, that means you can also fail the exam within those 75 questions or items.

Can I still take the NCLEX after 10 years? ›

Luckily, there doesn't seem to be a limit to how many years after nursing school you're ineligible to take the NCLEX. Still, if you've been out of nursing school for 20 years, you'll need to do some extra preparation to bring your knowledge and skills up to date to pass the NCLEX exam.

How many nurses fail the NCLEX the first time? ›

What Are Your Chances Of Failing NCLEX-RN On The First Attempt? The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reports 13.43% of NCLEX-RN candidates fail the exam on their first attempt. The number of unsuccessful test-takers is low compared to the more than 86% who pass the exam on their first try.

At what age do most nurses retire? ›

At What Age Do Most Nurses Retire?
  • 7% of both women and men retired at age 63.
  • 8% of women and 7% of men retired at age 64.
  • 11% of women and 13% of men retired at age 69.
  • 9% of women and 6% of men retired at the age of 70 or beyond.
Aug 4, 2022

What is a RN salary? ›

How much are nurses paid in Canada? ›

How much does a Nurse make in Canada? The average nurse salary in Canada is $76,031 per year or $38.99 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $59,875 per year, while most experienced workers make up to $105,477 per year.

What state pays ICU nurses the most? ›

The highest-paid ICU nurses can be found in California. Critical care RNs in the Golden State average $51.01 an hour, which is more than twice the average hourly rate in Alabama—the state with the lowest-paid ICU nurses—where the hourly wage averages $25.49.

How can I make the most money with an RN degree? ›

Make more money as a nurse with higher education
  1. Earn an advanced degree. ...
  2. Get certified in a specialization. ...
  3. Consider a leadership role. ...
  4. Become a travel nurse. ...
  5. Become a private duty nurse. ...
  6. Become an immunization nurse. ...
  7. Become an instructor. ...
  8. Become a nurse health coach.
Jun 16, 2022

What is the best state to become a nurse in? ›

RNs in Texas currently earn an average annual salary of $76,800. There are projections for a 16.75% increase in RN jobs expected over the next ten years, an average of more than 16,000 new and replacement RN jobs. All these factors combined make Texas is one of the best states for nurses.

Which nurse is the hardest? ›

The most stressful nursing jobs include ICU nurse, ER nurse, and NICU nurse. In these roles, nurses work in an intense environment with high stakes. They manage emergency situations and care for critically ill patients. Other stressful nursing jobs include OR nursing, oncology nursing, and psychiatric nursing.

What is the hardest in nursing? ›

Hardest Nursing School Classes
  • Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
  • Pharmacology. ...
  • Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
  • Evidence-Based Practice.

What type of nurse is the least stressful? ›

Institutional Nurses

These nurses administer more basic care and typically don't have to work long hours and overnight shifts, so this field of nursing tends to be low-stress. Even with less excitement, these nurses find fulfillment in providing basic and family care to those in need.

What score is passing on NCLEX? ›

While it's possible to pass the NCLEX after answering all 135, it's also possible to pass the test with a minimum of 70 questions or any number in between. Keep in mind NCLEX has a time limit of five hours. If you haven't answered enough questions correctly when the clock runs out, you will fail the test.

What happens if you fail NCLEX 3 times? ›

If they fail, they'll need to wait 45 days before retesting. After failing three times, though, they'll need to complete a board-approved remediation program before the next retake. test-takers have six attempts to pass in total.

Why it is important for nursing to continuing education? ›

Continuing education provides an essential part of the clinical competence that supports that influential role. Clinical competence is the combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that underpin a nurse's work.

What is the purpose of mandatory continuing education for nursing? ›

Nursing is a constantly changing profession and as a nurse, you must be a lifelong learner to ensure your patients receive the best care. For this reason, most states require continuing education (CE) to maintain your nursing license, ensuring that you stay up to date with nursing best practices.

How do I renew my New York RN license? ›

How to renew your New York nursing license
  1. Submit renewal application. Once your New York license has been issued it is valid for life, but the state's registration certificate needs to be renewed every three years. ...
  2. Fulfill continuing competency requirements. ...
  3. Submit your renewal application.
Sep 16, 2022

How long does New York nursing license last? ›

Your license is valid for life, unless it is surrendered, revoked, annulled, or suspended by the New York State Board of Regents.

What happens if my CA RN license expires? ›

A licensee cannot practice in California with an expired license. INACTIVE STATUS: "Inactive status" means that the RN has paid the renewal fee, but has not completed the continuing education requirement. A licensee cannot practice in California with an inactive license.

How much is California RN license verification fee? ›

Pay the $20 verification fee online. Click Submit.

How do I reactivate my RN license in CA? ›

California registered nurses can easily reactivate their licenses if they are inactive or lapsed. Please visit the License/Certificate Renewal section of our website for information on reactivating your license. To update your skills, many hospitals provide nurse re-entry programs.

Can an American registered nurse work in Canada? ›

If you were trained and worked as a nurse internationally you probably have much of the basic requirements to work in Canada. The nursing associations in each province and territory establish the requirements for internationally educated nurses to be registered in Canada.

How early can I renew my CA LVN license? ›

Renewal notices are mailed 6 weeks prior to the license expiration date. The renewal fee must be received on or before the expiration date in order for the licensee to continue to legally work. Delinquent Licenses -- A delinquency fee is assessed if the renewal fee is not paid within 30 days after the expiration date.

How do I check the status of my nursing license in CA? ›

To check the most recent information available regarding an RN license or to view public documents regarding any actions taken, please check the individual's license status through the DCA License Search page.The license information provided through this search page is primary source data from the Board of Registered ...

Does California accept foreign nurses? ›

Graduates from foreign nursing schools can only apply for licensure if they have completed an American equivalency degree program or passed the NCLEX-RN exam. Foreign graduates must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Can you take the NCLEX at home? ›

You can not take the NCLEX at your home. The NCLEX is administered by Pearson VUE and can only be taken at Pearson Vue testing centers.

How many times can you take RN exam in California? ›

California: Every 45 days as many times as you want. Florida: 3 attempts then you have to go back to school. Pennsylvania: Unlimited attempts.

How many clinical hours required in California for RN license? ›

Nursing Theory (For example 18 semester units – 16 wk semester) = 288 hrs. Nursing Clinical (For example 18 semester units – 16 wk semester) = 864 hrs. Disclosure of your social security number is mandatory.

How many hours of CA law are required for continuing education each year? ›

ALL licensees are required to complete at least six (6) hours of CE in Law and Ethics during the period between your license's prior expiration date (or initial issuance date), and the date your renewal application is submitted as a condition of each and every renewal.

How much does it cost to retake Nclex? ›

How much does it cost to retake the NCLEX? The registration fee for NCLEX retesting is $200 with Pearson VUE, and there's a $75 reapplication fee. Before paying any registration fees, though, contact your local nursing board and determine your state guidelines and requirements for retesting.

How much is RN in California? ›

Salaries by years of experience in California
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$52.57
3 to 5 years$55.18
6 to 9 years$57.17
More than 10 years$63.92
1 more row

How do you know if you passed the Nclex? ›

You will know you passed the NCLEX when the official results are released by the state board of nursing. If you pass, congratulations. You will now be able to get your nursing license.


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