License/Certificate Renewal

General Information

Renewal Cycle

Your first California RN license is issued for two birthdays, not two years, and will expire the last day of the month following your birth date. From that date on, it will expire every two years, if renewed timely. Once a California license number is issued, it will always remain the same number whether active, inactive or delinquent. If the license lapses and is later renewed, the same license number and renewal cycle will apply.

Renewal Notices

As a courtesy, renewal notices are mailed out approximately three months prior to the expiration date of the license. If you have not received a renewal notice, you can renew online through BreEZe Online Services, or download a renewal form from the Renewal Instructions section of this page. To ensure receipt of renewal notices, always keep the Board informed of any address change. Registered nurses are responsible for renewing their licenses even if they do not receive a renewal notice.

Legality of Practice Between Renewal and Receipt of License

Business and Professions Code, Section 121 provides that a nurse may work pending receipt of his/her renewed license providing the renewal fee has been submitted timely and all renewal requirements have been met. NOTE: The employer may have more stringent requirements.

RN Education Fund Fee

Effective with licenses expiring after January 31, 2004, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) has increased its RN Education Fund fee that is collected from RNs at the time of renewal from $5 to $10. The RN Education Fund provides loans and scholarships to nursing students. More information is available at the Health Professions Education Foundation website.

Military RNs

The Board waives the renewal requirements for military personnel when they are called to active duty. Please refer to Renewal Fee Waiver for Active Duty Military Personnel for additional details.

License Status Options

Active

This status is required for RNs who wish to practice nursing in the state of California. The licensee must submit the appropriate renewal fee and proof of 30 hours of continuing education.

Inactive

This status is designated for RNs who have paid the appropriate renewal fee, but have not completed the required 30 hours of continuing education. A licensee may choose this status if they have no immediate need for an active license, but wish to avoid paying the delinquent renewal fee. A licensee cannot practice as a registered nurse in California with an inactive license.

Delinquent

RNs may choose to let their license expire if they no longer wish to practice nursing in the state of California. If, at a later date, the RN chooses to return to nursing and it has been less than eight years since the license expired, the RN will be required to submit the appropriate delinquent renewal fee, and proof of 30 hours of continuing education completed within the prior two-year period. If the license has been lapsed longer than eight years, the RN must submit the delinquent renewal fee, 30 hours of continuing education, and proof of competency to practice by either verification of a current active license in another state or U.S. territory, or by retaking the licensing exam.

Renewal Requirements

Failure to provide all required information will result in delayed processing of your renewal application. Your payment will be processed, but your renewal will be considered incomplete. Please refer to the Incomplete Renewal section of this page for additional details.

Continuing Education

All RNs in the State of California who wish to maintain an active license are required to complete 30 contact hours of continuing education for license renewal. The continuing education course(s) must be taken through a continuing education provider recognized by the Board. Please refer to Continuing Education for License Renewal for additional information.

NOTE: During the first two years immediately following initial licensure in California or other jurisdictions, licensees shall be exempt from completion of the continuing education requirements specified in Title 16, California Code of Regulations Section 1451.

Fingerprints

If you are renewing your license to an ACTIVE status, you must have current electronic fingerprint results on file with the Board for BOTH levels of service (DOJ and FBI). If you do not have current fingerprints on file with the Board or if you only have one (1) level of service (DOJ or FBI) on file, this could hold up your license renewal until the new fingerprints are completed and sent into the Board. This requirement is waived if the licensee is renewing to an INACTIVE status.

Clear fingerprint results are needed from both DOJ and FBI prior to license renewal. A hold will be placed on your renewal until clear fingerprint results are received. Upon receipt of clear results, the hold will be released and a new pocket license will be issued.

Type of Results and Timeframes:

The Board receives various types of results from the DOJ and FBI. Below are approximate timeframes a renewal may be held due to a result other than "Clear".

  • Clear - A response stating no convictions have occurred or a listing of any conviction sustained. A hold will not be placed and your license will be renewed immediately.
  • Rejection – The Board will notify you within 14 days if a rejection of fingerprints is received from DOJ or FBI. A hold will remain on the renewal until a clear fingerprint result is received.
  • Delay – A DOJ or FBI delay can vary from approximately 30 to 90 days before the Board will receive a result. A hold will remain on the renewal until a clear fingerprint result is received.
  • Invalid – The Board will notify you within 14 days if an invalid fingerprint notification is received from DOJ or FBI. A hold will remain on the renewal until a clear fingerprint result is received.

Timeframes:

  • Livescan - Please allow approximately two weeks from the date you submit your Livescan fingerprints for the Board to receive results from DOJ and FBI.
  • Hard Card – Please allow approximately four to six weeks from the date you submit your hard card fingerprints to the Board for results to be received from DOJ and FBI.

For additional information and instructions, please refer to Fingerprint Requirement for License Renewal.

Reporting Discipline/Convictions

Upon renewal of a registered nurse license, the Board requires licensees to indicate if they have had any license disciplined by a government agency or other disciplinary body; or, have been convicted of any crime in any state or U.S. territory, military court or other country since they last renewed their license. For additional information, please refer to License Discipline and Convictions.

Renewal Instructions

Licensees may renew their RN license by one of the following methods:

Regardless of renewal method, licensees may not renew earlier than three months prior to the expiration date of their license.

See our Processing Times page for current timeframes.

Incomplete Renewal

When completing your renewal application, please read the instructions carefully. Failure to respond to the continuing education, conviction, or fingerprint compliance questions (or answering "No" to the fingerprint compliance question) on the renewal application will result in an incomplete renewal. Payment will be processed, but the renewal will be delayed until all required information is received by the Board. If you answered "No" to the fingerprint compliance question in error or left any renewal questions unanswered, you must complete and submit the appropriate form below to correct the issue:

Inactive to Active License Status

To change a license from inactive to active status, the licensee must submit proof of 30 hours of continuing education completed within the past two years, certify compliance with the fingerprint requirement, and report any license discipline/convictions using the form below:

NOTE: This does not extend the expiration date. The same expiration date will apply and another 30 hours of continuing education will be required at the time of renewal.

Reinstatement of a Lapsed RN License (8-Year Renewal)

If you once held a permanent California RN license that has been expired for eight years or longer and would like to renew to active status, you may do so if you meet the following requirements:

  • Have once held a permanent registered nurse license in California (a temporary license does not qualify) that has been lapsed for eight years or longer.
  • Presently hold a current and active registered nurse license in another state, U.S. territory, or Canada.

NOTE: If your license has been expired for longer than eight years, but you do not meet the above requirements, you must apply to the Board to take the NCLEX-RN examination. Please refer to our 8-Year Retake page for information and instructions.

All applicants must download the 8-Year Renewal Application Packet and provide the following items:

  • Appropriate fees (Page 2)
  • Completed "Application for Reinstatement of a Lapsed License - 8-Year Renewal" (Page 8)
  • Proof of completion of 30 hours of Board-approved continuing education completed within the past two years (certificates are required) (Page 3)
  • Completed fingerprints using either Live Scan or fingerprint card (Hard Card) processing method (Pages 3-5)
  • License Discipline and/or Convictions certification and, if applicable, documents and/or letters explaining prior convictions or disciplinary action as directed in "Section III. Reporting License Discipline and/or Convictions" (Page 5)
  • A photocopy of your current, active RN license
  • Completed "Verification of License" form or Nursys® Verification Application if your board of nursing participates in Nursys® (Page 9)

Advanced Practice Certificate Renewal

The following advanced practice certificates require additional renewal fees:

  • Nurse Anesthetist (NA)
  • Nurse-Midwife/Furnishing (NMW/NMF)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Nurse Practitioner Furnishing (NPF)

Renewal fees for the advanced practice certificates listed above are due at the same time as your RN license renewal fee. If your courtesy renewal notice was not received or has been misplaced, you can download a renewal form from the Renewal Instructions section of this page.

Nurse Practitioner (NP), Public Health Nurse (PHN), and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse (PMH) certificates are automatically renewed in conjunction with the RN license; no additional fee or continuing education is required.

Continuing Education Provider (CEP) Number Renewal

A CEP number expires two years from the date of issuance. As a courtesy, a renewal notice is mailed to the address on record approximately three months prior to the expiration date. This renewal notice is not required to renew a CEP number and failure to receive a renewal notice does not relieve you of the responsibility to renew your provider number in a timely manner.

A delinquent fee is added to the regular renewal fee if the renewal form and fee are postmarked after the expiration date.

A CEP number that has expired and has not been renewed for two years or longer will be retired and a new application must be submitted for review and issuance of a new provider number. Courses cannot be offered under a provider number once it has expired.