Licensure by Examination
Applicants must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) if they have never taken and passed the examination or been licensed as a registered nurse in another state or U.S. territory. All applicants must have completed an educational program meeting all California requirements. If you are lacking any educational requirements, you must successfully complete an approved course prior to taking the examination.
- To apply online, see Online Application for Exam Applicants for detailed information and instructions.
- To apply by mail, download the Application for Licensure by Examination Packet and continue to the instructions below.
Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes.
Licensure by Examination Instructions
All applicants must provide the following items:
- Appropriate fees, including fingerprint and interim permit fees, if applicable (Page 1)
- Completed "Application for Licensure by Examination", including U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) (Pages 11-12)
- Completed fingerprints using either Live Scan or fingerprint card (Hard Card) processing method (Page 5)
NOTE: The application packet does not include a Live Scan form or Hard Card. Please refer to Fingerprint Information to download or request these items.
- One recent 2" by 2" passport-type photograph attached to the reverse side of the "Application for Licensure by Examination" (Page 12)
- Completed "Request for Accommodation of Disabilities" and accompanying form(s), if applicable (Pages 18-22)
- "Request for Transcript" form(s) completed and forwarded directly from your nursing school(s) with certified transcripts (Page 13)
- If applicable, documents and/or letters explaining prior convictions or disciplinary action and attesting to your rehabilitation as directed in the "Reporting Prior Convictions or Discipline Against Licenses" section of the application packet (Page 4)
NOTE: See Important Notice Regarding Your Application for additional information for applicants with criminal convictions or discipline.
Additionally, for international applicants:
- Send the "Breakdown of Educational Program for International Nursing Programs" to your school with the "Request for Transcript" form. If your transcript is not in English, provide the "Certified English Translation" form to your certified translator. (Pages 16-17)
- Submit a copy of the license or diploma that allows you to practice professional nursing in the country where you were educated. Also provide copies of your certificates for midwifery and psychiatric nursing, if applicable.
See CA RN Licensure Qualifications for Graduates of International Nursing Program for additional details.
Additional Resources for Exam Applicants
- NCLEX® information - National Council of State Boards of Nursing
- "NCLEX Using CAT" video - National Council of State Boards of Nursing
- NCLEX® registration, scheduling, and test center information - Pearson VUE