What is a Compact License?
A compact, or multi-state, license allows a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to work in another state without having to obtain licensure in that state. The state where the nurse is licensed and the state where the nurse works must both be part of the compact agreement.
Currently, there is no Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) multi-state license. To work as an APN in Delaware, an APN must hold a Delaware-issued APN license regardless of compact state status.
States that are part of the agreement are compact states. Not all states are compact states. For a list of compact states, click NLC Member States.
If you are an RN or LPN who is licensed and resides in a compact state, you may practice in Delaware or any other compact state based on the issuing state’s multi-state license as long as your permanent residence remains in the compact state where you are licensed .
How Moving to or from Delaware Affects Your RN or LPN License
If you are an RN or LPN working in Delaware under another compact state’s license and you move to Delaware and establish Delaware as your primary residence, you must obtain a Delaware multi-state license within 90 days of establishing residence here. To prove that you are a resident of Delaware, you must provide a copy of a Delaware:
- driver’s license
- state-issued identification card, or
- voter’s registration card
Note: A Delaware multi-state license has the words “Multi-State” printed on the license.
If you are an RN or LPN who holds a valid, current, unrestricted Delaware multi-state license, you can practice in any of the compact states without applying for licensure in those states as long as your primary residence remains Delaware. However, if you move from Delaware to another compact state, the Delaware multi-state license is no longer valid. You must obtain a license in the new compact state within 90 days of establishing residence there.
Both Maryland and Delaware are compact states. If you are a Delaware-licensed RN living in Delaware, you are permitted to work in Maryland without obtaining a Maryland RN license. Conversely, if you are a Maryland-licensed RN and live in Maryland, you can work in Delaware without obtaining a Delaware RN license. However, if you move from Maryland to Delaware, your Maryland license will become invalid – you must obtain a Delaware license within 90 days of establishing Delaware as your primary residence.
Frequently Asked Questions about Compact States
Q: Can I have a license (RN or LPN) in Delaware and Maryland at the same time if my residence is in Pennsylvania?
A: Yes. Since Pennsylvania is not a compact state, you must obtain a license issued by a compact state to practice in that state. The license issued by the compact state would have “valid only in [name of state]” printed on it instead of “multi-state.”
Q: Do I need a Delaware license (RN or LPN) if I’m moving to Delaware, but I’ll be working only in Maryland?
A: Your license must be issued by the compact state where you reside. Since you will be residing in Delaware, you need a Delaware multi-state license, not a Maryland license.
Q: Do I need a Delaware license (RN or LPN) if I’m moving to Delaware, but will be working only in Pennsylvania or New Jersey?
A: You do not need to obtain a Delaware license unless you are working in Delaware (or another compact state). You would need both a Pennsylvania license and a New Jersey license if you are going to work in both of those states.
Q: How do I know which States are compact states?
A: The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) maintains the up-to-date listing of all states in the Nursing Licensure Compact. You can find the list at www.ncsbn.org under the link for Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC).
Q: If I move to Delaware but I just renewed my license in another compact state (e.g., Maryland or Virginia), do I have to obtain a Delaware license right away or can I wait until my license needs to be renewed?
A: If you move from one compact state to another, you have 90 days from the time you establish residency in the new compact state to obtain a license in the new compact state. Continuing to work/practice beyond that 90-day limit constitutes practice without a license and is subject to disciplinary action by the Board of Nursing.