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Multistate License (MSL)

Washington state joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) on July 24, 2023. The 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 getting additional licenses.

In addition to implementing the NLC, we've changed our name to Washington State Board of Nursing (WABON). 

How it Works

Nurses with a multistate license (MSL) can practice in other NLC states and territories, without getting additional licenses, while keeping their primary state of residence (PSOR).

A multistate license is issued in a nurse’s PSOR and is recognized across state lines (like a driver’s license) in participating compact states. 

Primary State of Residence (PSOR)

Primary State of Residence (PSOR) is the state you permanently live in. 

Specifically, it is the state where you can prove you legally reside. You can only have one PSOR.

PSOR is the state you:

  • Have a driver’s license.
  • Have a voter registration card.
  • Declare on your federal taxes.

If you move to Washington, you have 60 days to update your PSOR to Washington state.

*PSOR doesn't include travelers living temporarily in a state that plan to return to their PSOR. 

Moving to Washington state with a multistate license (MSL)?

You can apply for a Washington state MSL starting Jan. 31, 2024.

  • We expect the MSL application review process to take 2 to 3 weeks.
  • You must complete an FBI background check as part the application process. (We will email you instructions after you apply.)
  • You must meet all Uniform Multistate License Requirements.

Want to upgrade your single-state Washington license to an MSL?

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

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.

We use the term multistate license. 

Why would a nurse need a multistate license?

So they may practice in different compact states with one 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 the APRN practices in.

Information about the APRN compact is available at

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.

See Military Family Fact Sheet for Details

Benefits of a WA multistate license:

  • Access to Care: Expands access to nursing services across the country, including underserved communities.
  • Telehealth: Provide telehealth services without having to get additional licenses.
  • Disaster & Pandemic Relief: Immediately cross state borders to provide vital services.
  • Military Families: Military spouses seamlessly continue working without having to get a new license.
  • Online Education: Reduces educators’ need for multiple licenses.
  • Cost Effective: Makes practicing across state borders affordable and convenient.
  • Flexibility: Choose a single or multistate license based on interests and eligibility.

NLC Implementation Information

Information about the NLC

WABON NLC News Updates

Stay up-to-date

We will update our website and send out important information as we implement the NLC.