Multistate License (MSL)
Washington state joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) as of July 24, 2023.
The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) increases access to nursing care while maintaining public protection at the state level.
Under the NLC, nurses can practice in Washington state and other NLC states and territories, without obtaining additional licenses.
In addition to implementing the NLC, we've changed our name to Washington State Board of Nursing (WABON).
How it Works
Nurses holding a multistate license can practice in other NLC states and territories, without obtaining additional licenses, while maintaining their primary state of residence (PSOR). The multistate license is issued in a nurse’s PSOR, but is recognized across state lines, like a driver’s license.
View the NLC's short video that helps explain the NLC, what a multistate license is, and a board overview of steps nurses need to take when permanently changing their home states.
Primary State of Residence (PSOR)
PSOR is the state where you can prove you legally reside. PSOR follows these guidelines:
It is the state from which you have your driver’s license, voter registration card, or declared on your federal tax filing.
It doesn't pertain to home or property ownership.
There can only be one PSOR.
NCSBN NLC FAQs: Moving and need to change your PSOR?
Moving to Washington state with a multistate license?
You may not need to apply for a single state license.
We will tentatively begin issuing Washington multistate licenses in January 2024.
If your multistate license expires BEFORE February 2024 AND your primary state of residence is Washington, you may not be able to renew your previous multistate license.
- Because Washington will not be issuing multistate licenses until at least January 2024, you should plan to apply for a WA single state license to avoid a lapse in privilege to practice in Washington.
- Once Washington begins issuing multistate licenses, you may be able to convert to a multistate WA license.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)
- What is the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)?
The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) increases access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level.
Under the NLC, nurses can practice in other NLC states/territories, without obtaining additional licenses.
The Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators (ICNLCA) is made up of members from each of the participating NLC jurisdictions, who work together to support the mission of the ICNLCA.
For more information about the NLC and ICNLCA, please visit nursecompact.com.
- What is the difference between a compact license and a multistate license?
There is no difference between a compact license and a multistate license.
This terminology is used interchangeably to reference the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) license that allows a nurse to have one license, with the ability to practice in all NLC compact jurisdictions.
- Why would a nurse need a multistate license?
Nurses are required to be licensed in the state where the recipient of nursing practice is located at the time service is provided.
A multistate license allows the nurse to practice in the home state and all compact states and territories with one license issued by the home state.
This eliminates the costly and time-consuming process of obtaining single-state licenses in each state of practice.
- How does the NLC pertain to APRNs?
The NLC pertains to RN and LPN licenses only.
An APRN must hold an individual state license in each state of APRN practice.
Information about the APRN compact is available at aprncompact.com.
- How does the compact work for military or military spouses?
Federal, Veterans Administration, Military and Indian Health Services nurses are exempt from licensure in the state of practice when they hold an active nurse license in any state.
However, this exemption doesn't apply when a nurse is practicing in a civilian facility in a nonfederal role. In this case, the nurse will need to hold appropriate license in the state of practice.
Military spouses who are nurses can maintain or change a primary state of legal residency at their discretion. Should a nurse maintain legal residency in an NLC state or territory and hold a multistate license and the military family is stationed in other NLC states or territories, the nurse may practice under the home state multistate license in the other NLC states or territories without obtaining additional licenses in those states or territories.
NLC Implementation Information
- Implementation Plan
- RN and LPN Information
- Military Spouse and Military Nurse Information
- Employer Information
- Our Name Change
- NLC Nurse Practice Act Comparison
Information about the NLC
- Nurse Licensure Compact
- NLC Commission (ICNLCA)
- Proposed NLC Rule Changes
- NCSBN: eNLC Fast Facts (PDF)
- NLC States Map (PDF)
- NLC DL Comparision (PDF)
WABON NLC News Updates
- Update: Implementation of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) (Published October 12, 2023)
- NLC Employer Compliance form back online and updated (Published August 31, 2023)
- NLC Employer Compliance form unavailable 8/29 - 8/30 (Published August 25, 2023)
- NCSBN upcoming NLC webinars- August 22 & September 19 (Published August 21, 2023)
- Employer NLC information webinars scheduled for August (Published July 27, 2023)
- Washington state is now accepting nurses with a multistate license (MSL) as part of the Nursing Compact (Published on July 26, 2023)
- We have a new name! The Nursing Commission is changing to Board of Nursing (Published on July 21, 2023)
- New Zoom link for Employers July 21 webinar about the NLC Multistate License requirements (Published on July 19, 2023)
- Webinars for Employers July 17 & 21 about the NLC Multistate License requirements (Published on July 12, 2023)
- Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) Implementation update (Published on July 7, 2023)
- Implementation of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) (Published on June 16, 2023)
- Washington joins Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) (Published on May 9, 2023)
- Washington to join the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) (Published on April 21, 2023)
We will update our website and send out important information as we implement the NLC.
- Subscribe to our Washington State Board of Nursing News & Alerts to get the latest information.
Please be patient as we work hard on implementing the NLC.
If you can't find the information you need on our site, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.