How Often Do You Need to Renew Your Nursing License?

How Often Do You Need to Renew Your Nursing License?

Mar 12, 2015 | 11:00 am

Your nursing license is a key part of your practice as a nurse—not only does it assure patients and employers that you’ve met the determined professional standards, but it also gives you legal authorization to practice and use your job title, such as RN (Registered Nurse) or LVN/LPN (Licensed Vocational Nurse/Licensed Practical Nurse).

So how often do you renew your nursing license, and what other important facts do you need to know about keeping it current? Let’s take a look.

Nursing License Renewals

First, please note that exact renewal dates differ by state and their board of nursing’s guidelines, but on average nursing licenses must be renewed approximately every other year. Take a look at how some states set their dates (and wording) for this requirement:

•A California nursing license is issued for two birthdays—note: this is not two years—and expires the last day of the month following your birthdate. After that point, if renewed timely, the renewal is every two years.

•In Texas, nurses are required to renew their licenses on a “biennial basis,” which means every other year, with evidence of required continuing nursing education, notes the Texas Board of Nursing.

•In Missouri, RN licenses expire on April 30 of each odd-numbered year and practical nurse licenses expire on May 31 of each even-numbered year, according to the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.

For this reason, it’s important to note the renewal process or date when you get your first nursing license. If you aren’t sure about the date or have questions regarding renewal in your specific state, contact your state board of nursing.

How to Keep Your Nursing License Current

Sending in your renewal before the expiration date isn’t always the only way to renew your nursing license. Scan this checklist to ensure you stay up to date.

•Your renewal notice will get mailed to the last address the board of nursing in your state has on file about 60 to 90 days before its expiration date. Whenever you move within the state or have a name change, notify your state’s board of nursing so it doesn’t hold up your renewal process. Note: Most nursing boards ask that you send updated information within 10 days of a change, and not receiving your renewal notice for whatever reason won’t relieve you from renewal!

•If you move to a new state, you are required to get licensed in that state eventually. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), nursing practice is defined as occurring where the patient is located physically. The council advises that if you plan to relocate, contact the new state’s board of nursing in advance to find out about their licensing model. As of 2014, 24 states participate in the “mutual recognition” model of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which means you can have a license in your home state and also practice in the 24 states noted. Ultimately, each state sets their rules for licensure.

•Know the nursing license renewal requirements in your state right away. Some states require continuing education for renewal. Pennsylvania nursing license renewals, for example, require RNs to fulfill 30 hours of continuing education hours within the appropriate time-frame.

Working with a current nursing license assures safe practices both for the patients and the nurses. Failing to renew while continuing to practice could put nurses at risk for practicing without the benefit of licensure, which is a violation. Keep current with your state board of nursing, and you’ll be notified about upcoming changes and renewals. It’s the safe way to go!