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Applicant Frequently Asked Questions

Applicant General Questions

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Licensure by Examination Questions

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Licensure by Endorsement Questions

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Advanced Practice Certification Questions

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Questions for International Graduates

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How do I become a Registered Nurse (RN) in California?
For detailed information, please see the Careers in Nursing section of this Web site.

How can I inquire as to the status of my application?
Please wait 6 to 8 weeks after your payment has cleared your bank before contacting the Board regarding your application status. Contacting the Board before this time can cause additional delays. Processing timeframes may vary during graduation season.

What is the Fingerprint Requirement?
All applicants are required to submit fingerprints. There are two (2) methods available for completing the fingerprint requirement:

  • Method 1 - Live Scan - For applicants residing in California, you must use Live Scan to submit your fingerprints unless you obtain an exemption. To see a listing of the California Department of Justice (DOJ) applicant Live Scan agency locations, fees and hours of operation, visit the Office of the Attorney General's Web site. Please refer to Fingerprint Information for instructions on submitting fingerints using the Live Scan method.
  • Method 2 - Fingerprint Card (Hard Card) - For applicants outside of California, you must submit fingerprints using the Hard Card method. Please use the Fingerprint Requests form to have a fingerprint card mailed to you.

After submission of my application, how long does it take to receive my eligibility to take the examination?
Processing time depends on when the Board receives all required documents from schools, agencies, and other states. Prior convictions and special testing accommodations for disabilities may delay the process. If you have not received any correspondence from the Board within 90 days of your payment clearing your bank, please contact the Board.

What is the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)?
The NCLEX-RN examination is a Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT) designed to test knowledge, skills, and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry level. For detailed NCLEX-RN information please visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) Web site.

How much does it cost to register for the NCLEX-RN examination?
The examination registration fee is $200. If you choose to schedule your NCLEX-RN examination at any of the international test centers, you will have to pay an additional international scheduling fee of $150 plus a Value Added Tax (VAT) where applicable. These fees will be charged when you schedule your examination appointment. For additional NCLEX-RN examination information please visit Pearson VUE's Web site.

I have registered with Pearson Vue to take the examination. When will I receive my Authorization to Test (ATT)?
After the Board determines that you are eligible to test, you will receive an Authorization to Test by e-mail from Pearson VUE (the organization that provides test administration and services test development). You must have your ATT to schedule an appointment to take the NCLEX-RN examination. Additionally, at the testing center, you must present acceptable identification to be admitted to the test. The name on your photo identification must match EXACTLY with your name that is on file with both the Board and with Pearson Vue.

Where can I take the NCLEX-RN examination?
The NCLEX-RN examination is administered at any Pearson Professional Center (PPC) located in the U.S.A. or its territories. Additionally, international testing centers are located in Australia, Canada, England, Germany (temporarily not testing at this location), Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, and Taiwan. For specific testing center information please visit Pearson VUE's Web site.

How long does it take to receive my test results?
You should receive either your permanent RN license (see question 20), or notification that you did not pass the examination, within two (2) to four (4) weeks after taking the examination if your file is complete.

I failed the examination. How do I assess my performance on the examination?
Candidates who fail the examination will receive a Candidate Performance Report (CPR). This report identifies the candidate's performance on the examination, provides the number of items administered to the candidate, and a summary of the candidate's relative strengths and weaknesses.

How do I reapply to take the NCLEX-RN examination?
To retake the NCLEX-RN Examination, you must submit to the Board a completed Request for Reapply/Repeat Examination along with the reapplication fee of $150. If you do not pass the exam, test results will be sent by mail in 2-4 weeks, along with instructions on how to submit a Request for Reapply/Repeat Examination application.

How do I apply for an Interim Permit?

If submitting your Application for Licensure by Examination by mail, check the "Request for Interim Permit" box and add an additional $50 to your total payment. If applying for licensure online, check the Interim Permit box on your Examination Identification Form, attach a check or money order (U.S. currency only) for $50, and mail both to:

Board of Registered Nursing
P.O. Box 944210
Sacramento, CA 94244-2100

How can I check if my Interim Permit has been issued?
The Board must receive and process the fingerprint results from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) before an Interim Permit is issued. If fingerprint requirements have been met, and you have submitted your Interim Permit application, your $50 fee, and have received your eligibility notice for the NCLEX-RN, you may access the BreEZe License Verification system to check if your Interim Permit has been issued. If issued, your Interim Permit hardcopy will arrive by U.S. mail within two (2) weeks from the issue date, and is valid for six (6) months, or until the results of the first NCLEX-RN are received, whichever occurs first.

Does California require TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)?
The Board requires TOEFL only if an applicant attended a non-English speaking nursing school and is applying for an Interim Permit. For additional information please visit TOEFL's Web site.

I am licensed in another state. How can I become licensed in California?
Endorsement is the licensure method for registered nurses who hold a current and active license in another state in the US or Canada. The endorsement applicant must have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE), or the five-part Canadian examination (prior to 1980). The Canadian Comprehensive Examination is not acceptable. For additional endorsement information please see the Licensure by Endorsement section of this Web site.

If you have not taken one of these three (3) examinations, you are not eligible for endorsement and must apply for Licensure by Examination.

I have taken the NCLEX, but my license has lapsed. What can I do to endorse into California?
In order to endorse, you must have a current and active license in another state, and meet all other licensure requirements. Contact your State Board and inquire as to the steps necessary to reactivate your license.

What is Nursys®?
Nursys® (Nurse System) is an online license verification program used to convey licensing and discipline information between state boards. At its September 23, 2010 Board meeting, the Board members voted for the California BRN to contract with NCSBN to electronically share licensing information on a daily basis to NURSYS. The BRN is a participating member of NURSYS which allows the public to verify a nurse license, check discipline status, or see if a nurse is licensed in more than one state.

How do I submit the Nursys® Verification Request Application?
Visit the Nursys® website and follow the instructions to complete the online application. Payment is made by credit card. Once the application is complete and the credit card payment approved, the verification is posted immediately.

How do I apply for a Temporary License?
You may apply for a Temporary License at the same time that you apply for licensure by endorsement or at any time prior to the issuance of a permanent registered nursing license. The Board must receive and process fingerprint results from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) before a Temporary License is issued. A Temporary License is valid for a period of six (6) months, allowing an applicant to work pending issuance of a permanent RN license. To qualify for a Temporary License, the applicant must submit:

  • Application - Completed Application for Licensure by Endorsement (which includes application for a Temporary License)
  • Applicable Fees - Check or money order in U.S. currency. Cash transactions require exact change.
  • Fingerprints - One completed Fingerprint Card (Hard Card) or second copy of the Live Scan Service Applicant Submission form (BCII 8016). Fingerprint results, from the DOJ and the FBI, must be received and processed by the Board prior to the issuance of a Temporary License.
  • Verification of License - Proof of clear and active RN license from state of endorsement submitted via sealed envelope from State Board of Nursing or Nursys® verification system. (Allow 7 working days for receipt)
  • Out-of-Country Education - In addition to above - Verification of license from the state where you passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) or State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE) or five-part Canadian examination and were licensed in Canada prior to 1980.

    Transcripts must be reviewed and approved prior to the issuance of a Temporary License. Transcripts are not accepted from applicants or if stamped "issued to student". Transcripts are required from all colleges you attended that reflect courses required for a degree in nursing, including general education course requirements and all nursing courses.

The issuance of a Temporary License is normally completed within 6 to 8 weeks, but may be delayed if the application or fingerprint results indicate a prior conviction(s), or other basis for denial. For information related to requesting a Temporary License, please visit the Licensure by Endorsement section of this Web site.

How can I check if my Temporary License has been issued?
You may access the BreEZe License Verification system to check if your Temporary License has been issued.

How long does it take before I receive my permanent RN license?
Processing times depend on when the Board receives all required documents from schools (e.g., transcripts), agencies, other states, or countries. Prior convictions or disciplinary actions may delay the process. Delays may also occur with the fingerprint processing at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and /or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Please note that the Board must receive and process the fingerprint results from the DOJ and the FBI before an Interim Permit, a Temporary License, or a permanent RN license are issued.

I need a Temporary License quickly. Can I obtain a Temporary License directly at the Board's office?
Due to the implementation of the BreEZe system, the Board of Registered Nursing will no longer be able to issue a Temporary License at the Board’s front counter. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Eight or more years have elapsed since the expiration date of my California RN license. What steps should I follow to renew my license?
If eight or more years have passed following the expiration date of your license and you do not presently hold a current and active registered nurse license in another state or U.S. territory, you are required to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before your license can be reinstated. The NCLEX-RN is required to determine current clinical knowledge and fitness to resume the practice of registered nursing. For information on retaking the NCLEX-RN examination, please visit Reinstatement of a Lapsed RN License (8 Years or Longer).

If eight or more years have passed following the expiration date of a license and you presently hold a current and active registered nurse license in another state or U.S. territory, you do not have to re-take the NCLEX-RN. For information on how to renew your license, please visit Reinstatement of a Lapsed Registered Nurse License (8-Year Renewal).

What should I do if I have a name or address change?
To ensure receipt of important notices, please notify the Board within 30 days of any address change. Also, please notify the Board immediately of any change in name or e-mail. Please note that your name must match EXACTLY in ALL of the following areas:

  • Documents on file at the Board
  • Registration at Pearson VUE
  • Personal official identification
  • Authorization to Test

You can change your address by completing and submitting the Change of Address form. For name changes, complete the Notification of Name Change form and submit to the Board with the required documentation.

For a candidate with a disability, what is the process to receive reasonable accommodations for the examination?
A Request for Accommodation of Disabilities form must be submitted to the Board along with the application for licensure.

How do I obtain an Advanced Practice Certificate?

For Advanced Practice Certificate information, please click the corresponding title to access the information on the Board's Web site:

Applicant Prior Convictions and Disciplinary Actions Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What convictions or license discipline must be reported on the application?
All convictions must be reported, except for minor traffic violations. Both misdemeanor and felony convictions must be reported, and "driving under the influence" must be reported. Convictions must be reported even if they have been expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4. Also, offenses must be reported even if the applicant has successfully completed a diversion program under the Penal or Article 5 of the Vehicle Code. All prior or current disciplinary action against a healthcare related license must be reported, whether it occurred in California or in another state or territory.

2. Can a person obtain a license as a registered nurse if they have a misdemeanor or felony conviction on their record?
The BRN reviews all prior convictions substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a registered nurse. Each application is evaluated on a case by case basis. (Please refer to the Policy Statement on Denial of Licensure.) The BRN considers the nature, severity, and recency of the offense(s), as well as rehabilitation and other factors. The Board cannot make a determination for approval or denial of licensure without evaluating the entire application and supporting documentation.

3. Is there any specific conviction that will automatically disqualify an applicant from receiving a license?
No. There is not any one specific type of conviction that will disqualify an applicant. Again, the Board must review, on a case by case basis, all convictions and supporting documentation to determine if an application will be approved or denied.

4. Do I have to report charges if I completed a court diversion program and charges were dismissed?
Yes. Offenses must be reported to the Board even if a court diversion program has been completed. (Business and Professions Code section 492).

5. What type of documentation do I need to submit in support of my application if I have a prior conviction or license discipline?
In addition to the documents required for licensure, the BRN will require:

  • Certified official court document(s) and arrest report(s) relative to your conviction(s), showing the date(s) and circumstance(s) surrounding your arrest /conviction(s), sections of the law violated, and disposition of the case.
  • Copy of documents relative to any disciplinary action taken against any license as an RN or any healthcare related license or certificate, if applicable.
  • A detailed description of the circumstances surrounding your conviction(s) or disciplinary action and a thorough description of the rehabilitative changes in your lifestyle since the time of your conviction(s) or disciplinary action which would enable you to avoid future occurrences. It would be helpful to include factors in your life which you feel may have contributed to your conviction(s) or disciplinary action, what you have learned about yourself since that time, and the changes you have made that support your rehabilitation.
  • The burden of proof lies with the applicant to demonstrate evidence of rehabilitation. Examples of rehabilitation evidence include, but are not limited to:
    • If applicable to your conviction(s) or license discipline(s), documented evidence of professional treatment and counseling you may have completed. Please provide discharge summary, if available.
    • Letters of reference on official letterhead from employers, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, parole or probation officers, or other individuals in positions of authority who are knowledgeable about your rehabilitation efforts.
    • Proof of community work, schooling, and/or self-improvement efforts.
    • Court-issued certificate of rehabilitation or evidence of expungement, proof of compliance with criminal probation or parole, and orders of the court.

6. Can I receive an Interim Permit if my application is under review because of convictions?
No. If your application is referred to the Enforcement Program for review, you will not be allowed to receive an Interim Permit until the review has been completed, and a final decision has been made regarding your application.

7. How long will it take to review the information that I submit with my application?
The normal processing time for initial review is approximately 4 to 6 weeks from cashier date, but please allow an additional 2-3 weeks for secondary review. This assumes that all requested information for licensure and for the Enforcement Program has been received.

8. I am licensed in another state and want to receive my temporary license ASAP. Can I obtain a temporary license by coming to the Board's office if I have prior conviction(s) or out of state disciplinary action on my record?
No. Temporary licenses are not issued until all conviction, discipline, rehabilitation, and other evidence is fully evaluated.

9. How can I help facilitate how quickly my prior conviction or license discipline is reviewed?
The BRN strongly encourages all individuals with a conviction or discipline history to be fully prepared with information regarding their background, as specified in the policy statement on denial of licensure and the BRN application for licensure. Otherwise, your request for a license will experience a delay.

10. How do I appeal the denial of my application for licensure?
You have the right to appeal the license denial, and to have an administrative hearing, under the provisions of Section 485(b) of the Business and Professions Code. You must submit the appeal in writing to the Board office within 60 days from the service of the notice of denial. If you do not submit an appeal in writing to the Board, you will automatically waive your right to a hearing, and your application will be deemed denied.

Should you appeal, and the denial is upheld, the earliest date to reapply is one year from the date of service of the notice of denial.

11. What will happen if I choose not to appeal the application denial?
If you select not to appeal the application denial, you will be allowed to reapply for licensure one year from the date of the service of the notice of denial.