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On January 18, 2018, Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 18-027 Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact. The law placed Colorado into the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). As a member of the NLC, the State Board of Nursing now requires all applicants to obtain a fingerprint background check in order to obtain a nursing license in Colorado.
The NLC increases access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level. Under the NLC, nurses are able to provide care to patients in other NLC states, without having to obtain additional licenses.
The Nurse licensure Compact (NLC) allows a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical/vocational nurse (PN) to possess a multistate license allowing practice across state lines in all NLC states. Updates on current states within the compact are available on the NLC Website.
The original nurse licensure compact was established in 2000 and had 25 member states. It was identified that changes were warranted. The original compact was dissolved July 18, 2018. The enhanced nurse licensure compact (NLC) was drafted and the updated version was adopted in 2015 and implemented January 19, 2018. The "e" is slowly being dropped from new and future documents as the compact has been fully established. This webpage will refer to the compact as the NLC.
Nurse Qualification Requirements
The applicant must meet the following requirements:
A nurse with a single state license can ONLY practice in the state that has issued that single state license. A multistate license allows a nurse to practice in any state that is a member of the NLC.
No. The compact license is the default license in Colorado. All Colorado applications are processed according to compact requirements. If you do not qualify for a multistate license, the State Board of Nursing may consider issuing you a single state license. There is no difference in cost between a multistate and single state license. Both licenses require a background check.
Your compact license MUST be issued by the state where you have your primary legal residence.
If your home state has recently joined the compact, you will need to contact them to have a multistate license issued to you from that state. If you have moved your primary legal residence to Colorado, you should apply for your multistate license in Colorado.
No. Your multistate license must be issued by the state where you maintain your primary state of residence. The multistate license allows you to work in any state that is part of the compact; therefore, there is no need for more than one license.
Yes. You can use your multistate license to practice in other NLC states.
Yes. If you have a multistate compact license and also practice in a state that is NOT in the compact, you must obtain a single state license in that non-compact state.
You may provide telehealth services and teach within other compact states with the multistate license as long as the patient is located in a compact state. If the patient is in a noncompact state hen you must obtain a single state license in the state the patient resides in.
Yes. As required by law, you must submit a fingerprint background check to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) uses these guidelines.
Yes. A fingerprint background check is required.
No. Federal law requires that you submit a background check specifically to your Colorado application for a compact RN or PN license. Previously submitted or completed background checks cannot be used to obtain a compact RN or PN license.
Yes. All applicants for licensure need to have their fingerprints taken and sent to CBI for a background check.
If there is a "hit" on a background check, the review process can take additional time, including review by the State Board of Nursing. These hits do not automatically exclude someone from license eligibility, however, a felony conviction would exclude someone from a multistate license. In these cases, the Board may consider whether or not an individual would be eligible for a single state license.
Nurses who reside in a noncompact state and choose to work in Colorado must obtain a single state license in Colorado.
No. Under the multistate licensure privilege to practice you are nor required to obtain a Colorado license if you hold a multistate license in a compact state that you claim as your primary state of residence.
You may supply your employer with the Compact requirements of acceptance of multistate license memo.
No. If you maintain an active license from any state, you can continue to practice exclusively at military facilities. If you "moonlight" or practice outside military facilities, you either need to have a multistate compact license or need to get a Colorado single state license in order to work in Colorado.
Military families have a home record of Domicile state, which is considered the primary state of legal residency for compact license purposes. Such nurses may utilize military form 2058 as proof of legal residency.
Maintaining or changing a primary state of legal residency is at the discretion of the nurse. Should a nurse maintain legal residency in the NLC state and hold a multistate license and the military family is stationed in another NLC state without obtaining additional licensure in those states.
The Nursys website will help you determine in which states you may practice. Information also is available via the NLC.