Applicant Frequently Asked Questions
- General Information
- Licensure by Examination
- Licensure by Endorsement
- Advanced Practice Certification
- International Graduates
- Prior Convictions and Disciplinary Actions
- How do I become a Registered Nurse (RN) in California?
For detailed information, please visit our Careers in Nursing page.
- What is the Fingerprint Requirement?
All applicants are required to submit fingerprints for purposes of conducting a criminal history record check. Please visit our Fingerprint Information page for additional details and instructions.
- 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 our 8-Year Retake page.
If eight or more years have passed following the expiration date of your 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 refer to the 8-Year Renewal section of our website.
- How can I inquire as to the status of my application?
Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes. Contacting the Board before the indicated timeframe can cause additional delays. Processing timeframes may vary during graduation season.
- What should I do if I have a name or address change?
To ensure receipt of important notices, you must notify the Board within 30 days of an address change. Also, please notify the Board immediately of any change in name or email address. 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 (ATT)
Please refer to our Name/Address Changes page for instructions on submitting your changes to the Board.
- 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. Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes. If you have not received any correspondence from the Board and your application has exceeded the timeframe indicated, 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) website.
- 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 the Pearson VUE website.
- 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 email 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. 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 the Pearson VUE website.
- How long does it take to receive my test results?
Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes.
- I failed the examination. How do I assess my performance?
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?
- 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 and submit to the Board with a check or money order (U.S. currency only) for $50.
- How can I check if my Interim Permit has been issued?
Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes. 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. An Interim Permit is valid for six months, or until the results of the first NCLEX-RN are received, whichever occurs first.
- How long does it take to receive my test results?
Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes.
- 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.
- 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, U.S. territory, 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 visit our Licensure by Endorsement page.
If you have not taken one of these three 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's nursing board and inquire as to the steps necessary to reactivate your license.
- What is Nursys®?
Nursys® is an online license verification system used to convey licensing and discipline information between state boards. At its September 23, 2010 Board meeting, Board members voted for the California BRN to contract with National Council of State Boards of Nursing 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. A temporary license is valid for a period of six months, allowing an applicant to work pending issuance of a permanent RN license. Please visit our Licensure by Endorsement page for application instructions.
The Board must receive and process fingerprint results from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as well as review and approve transcripts before a temporary license is issued. There may be a delay if the application or fingerprint results indicate a prior conviction(s) or other basis for denial. Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes.
- 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?
Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes. Processing times depend on when the Board receives all required documents from schools, agencies, and 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, we will no longer be able to issue temporary licenses at the Board’s office. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
- How do I obtain an Advanced Practice Certificate?
Please visit our Advanced Practice Certification page for information and instructions on applying for Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Nurse Anesthetist (NA), Nurse-Midwife/Furnishing (NMW/NMF), Nurse Practitioner/Furnishing (NP/NPF), Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse (PMH), or Public Health Nurse (PHN) certifications.
- Does California require Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?
California Code of Regulations Section 1413 states that the Board may request the applicant to take the English comprehension examination (TOEFL) if there is reasonable doubt of an applicant’s ability to comprehend the English language. The Board will also request TOEFL from the applicant if they completed their initial nursing program where the language of instruction was not in English. For additional information please visit the TOEFL website.
- What is the passing score for TOEFL?
The applicant must provide proof of a passing score of 26 or higher for the TOEFL examination in all of the following areas: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.
- 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, as well as "driving under the influence". 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.
- Can a person obtain a license as a registered nurse if they have a misdemeanor or felony conviction on their record?
The Board 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 Board 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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).
- 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, 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.
- 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 complete, and a final decision has been made regarding your application.
- How long will it take to review the information that I submit with my application?
Please refer to our Processing Times page for current timeframes. These timeframes assume that all requested information for licensure and for the Enforcement Program has been received.
- I am licensed in another state and want to receive my temporary license as soon as possible. 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.
- How can I help facilitate how quickly my prior conviction or license discipline is reviewed?
The Board 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 application for licensure. Otherwise your request for a license will experience a delay.
- 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.
- What will happen if I choose not to appeal the application denial?
If you choose 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.