To become a certified nurse aide (CNA), you must first pass a state-approved CNA program, obtain your CNA certification, and pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program exam before you get your license and are allowed to practice. Transferring a CNA license from one state to another is called reciprocity. With this process, your out of state credentials are approved and your name is listed on the Nurse Aide registry for the new state. Reciprocity has a few benefits, including:
Since the process to become a CNA can be complex, many professionals worry that they will not be able to transfer their licenses to work in a different state. However, that is not always the case. Some states allow you to transfer your CNA license from another state or will allow you to apply for a new license with fewer requirements.
It’s important to note that not all states have reciprocity agreements or requirements, so some research is required. If you are moving to another state without a reciprocity agreement, you will have to retake the certification exam for that state. Fortunately, practice tests are available to help you prepare, though it may save you time and energy to first investigate whether there is a reciprocity program you can use instead.
The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses to practice in any participating state. However, this multi-state agreement is different from reciprocity agreements. The NLC provides guidelines developed by all participating states, meaning that CNAs don’t have to verify their credentials in participating compact states.
|State||Reciprocity Agreement||NLC Member|
|District of Columbia||Yes||No|
If you wish to transfer your CNA license from one state to another, you must complete an application for reciprocity. There may be some fees associated with reciprocity which range from state to state. After filling out the reciprocity application, you must submit it to the Nurse Aide Registry of your new state along with the following:
After submission, you will have to wait for four to six weeks for a response from the nurse aide registry of that state. Be sure to ask for the status of your license if you do not receive it on time. In some states, you can start practicing immediately during this waiting period; in others, you will have to wait for your license.
Nurses who declare a compact state as their primary state are allowed to apply for multi-state licenses. If you did not receive your license in a compact state, you will have to apply for licensure by reciprocity. However, if a CNA is moving from a non-compact state to a compact state and changes their primary residence, they can apply for a multi-state license.
Multi-state licenses are easy to apply for if the CNA meets the requirements above. After they have passed their exam, they can opt for a multi-state license through the nursing state board.
CNAs must get their name listed on the State Board Registry to be able to work as a nurse aide in that particular state. If you don’t transfer your license to the new state you are working in, you will be unable to work as a nurse assistant. Luckily, reciprocity agreements and the NLC make transferring CNA licenses from state to state relatively easy.