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RN or LPN NCLEX Exam (first license)

If you are a recent grad or are applying for your first ever RN or LPN license, you need to apply by exam.

  • Please only apply when you are ready to schedule and take the NCLEX exam to avoid your application being closed due to inactivity.
    • Don't apply more than 2 weeks before you are ready to schedule and take the NCLEX.
  • After 30 days of inactivity, all applications receive a 30-day closure warning letter. 

If you received your initial nursing education outside of the United States, go to the Educated Outside the United States page first.

  • Before you are able to register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX, your education must be approved by the nursing board. 

You need to know:

If you are applying by exam and this is your first nurse license in the United States, Washington state will be your Initial US state of licensure. This is important to know if you ever wish to practice in another state.

Single-state vs Multistate License 

Starting Jan 31, 2024, you have the option to apply for a Washington single-state license or a multistate license. (MSL).

  • If you are issued a single-state license, you can apply to upgrade to an MSL later.

Washington single-state license 

  • Allows practice in Washington State only. 

Washington multistate license (MSL) 

Comparison chart 

Washington Single-State License  Washington Multistate License (MSL)
Allows practice in Washington State only.  Allows practice in Washington state and 40 other participating compact states. 
Initial single-state license fee:
RN: $138
LPN: $93
Initial multistate license fee:
RN: $203
LPN: $158
Annual single-state renewal fee:
RN: $138
LPN: $93
Annual multistate renewal fee:
RN: $158
LPN: $113

Initial License by Exam Requirements: 

  • Application and fee
  • Complete a BON approved nursing education program
  • Official transcripts with degree 
  • Pass NCLEX
  • FBI fingerprint background check (if out of state address)

Initial License by Exam Requirements: 

  • Application and fee
  • Complete a BON approved nursing education program
  • Official transcripts with degree
  • Pass NCLEX
  • FBI fingerprint background check
  • Valid US Social Security Number 
  • WA State must be primary state of residence (PSOR)
  • Must not be a participant in an alternative to discipline program or have ever been convicted of a felony. 
  • Must meet all Uniform Multistate License Requirements.

Before you apply

Apply only if you will be ready to schedule and take the NCLEX upon completion of your nursing education program. This will help prevent your application getting closed due to inactivity. 

Overview of the Washington state nursing exam process for RNs and LPNs.

Steps to apply

  1. Make sure you meet all requirements
  2. Get your forms signed and ready to upload
  3. Complete an online application
  4. Pay application fee online
  5. Attach required forms and documents
    • Any “yes” responses to personal data questions must have supporting documents, such as court documents and written statements.
  6. Submit your application
  7. Once you have completed your nursing education program, please request to have your official transcripts with your degree and graduation date sent to the nursing commission

We will email you if we need anything or have issues with your application.

Submitting forms and documents

  • You have 14 days after you submit your application to upload your documents online. 
  • After 14 days you won’t be able to access your application though SAW.  
  • If you have more documents to submit after 14 days, please email them to nurselicensing@doh.wa.gov

Requirements

Verification of Education

Nursing Education Program Graduate in Washington State

  • If you are a graduate of a Washington state nursing education program, the program director will send an electronic certificate of completion (COC) to our office after you complete the program.
  • You don't need to request the COC, but you will need to request official transcripts after your degree and graduation date is posted by your school.

Nursing Education Program Graduate in another U.S. State or Jurisdiction

  • If you are a graduate from a nursing education program in another U.S. state or jurisdiction, we will need your official transcripts, with degree and graduation date posted.
  • This needs to be received by the WA Board of Nursing before we are able to grant eligibility to test in Pearson Vue.
  • If we can’t determine equivalency, then you must submit the education verification form (PDF) completed by your nursing education program.

Applicants educated internationally

If you were educated outside of the United States and you are applying for your first license in the United States, please visit the Educated Outside the United States page.

Official Transcripts

Have your official transcripts sent to us electronically or by mail.

Electronic transcripts

If your school uses one of the approved electronic transcript services below, please have them send your official transcripts to nurselicensing@doh.wa.gov

  • E-Script
  • Parchment
  • Student Clearing House

Please don't have official transcripts sent until you have completed your nursing education program and your degree has been posted. 

Paper transcripts

If your school doesn't use an electronic transcript service, please request transcripts be mailed to the address below. Make sure your transcripts have your degree and graduation date posted.

Mail transcripts to:

     Attn: Licensing Unit
     Washington State Board of Nursing
     PO Box 47864
     Olympia, WA 98504-7864

Professional vocational relationship course (PVR)

If you are testing out of an RN program for the NCLEX-PN exam, you will need to complete a commission approved PVR course.

You will also need to submit an attestation from your nurse administrator at your nursing education program addressing your ability to safely practice within the scope of a practical nurse.

Register for the NCLEX

You may register to take the national exam online through Pearson VUE. They will email the “authorization to test” (ATT) to you.

See the Pearson VUE registration guide NCLEX Candidate Bulletin for more information.

Washington State Pearson VUE test locations:

ADA Accommodations for the NCLEX

To request ADA accommodations for the NCLEX , you will need to submit the following documentation with your application:

  • A letter from the diagnosing physician stating the diagnosis and recommended accommodations.
  • A letter from the school stating the diagnosis and accommodations granted while enrolled in the nursing education program.
  • A letter from yourself stating the diagnosis and requested accommodations.

    More Information

    Questions?

    We're available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.