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License/Certificate Renewal

License Status Options

The following are definitions of the available license status options for registered nurses in California:

Active
RNs who wish to practice nursing in the state of California. Licensee is required to submit the appropriate renewal fee and proof of 30 hours of continuing education.

Inactive
RNs who have paid the appropriate renewal fee, but have not completed the required 30 hours of continuing education. A licensee cannot practice as a registered nurse in California with an inactive license.

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

Renewal Information

Renewal Cycle
Your first California RN license is issued for two birthdays - not two years - and it 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
Notices are mailed out approximately three months prior to the expiration date of the license. If it is not received two months before the expiration date, please contact the Board. To insure 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.

NOTE: If you are a licensed California registered nurse and reside and work outside of California, please contact the California Franchise Tax Board (CFTB) and provide your change of address in order to be notified of any notices that they might send to you. You may contact the CFTB at (800) 852-5711.

Legality of Practice Between Renewal and Receipt of License
Section 121 of the Business and Professions Code 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. With the new OSHPD fee, RNs will pay a total of $140 at renewal time, and delinquent renewals will be $205. The RN Education Fund provides loans and scholarships to nursing students. More information is available at Health Professions Education Foundation.

Continuing Education
All RNs in the State of California who wish to maintain an active license are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education for license renewal. The continuing education course(s) must be taken through a Board approved Continuing Education Provider. 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.

Fingerprint Requirement
An applicant for renewal not previously fingerprinted by the Board is required to furnish to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as directed by the Board, a full set of fingerprints for the purpose of conducting a criminal history record check. This requirement applies to RNs licensed prior to August 1, 1990, since fingerprints were not required for licensure prior to that date. Failure to submit a full set of fingerprints, if required or otherwise directed, on or before the date required for renewal of a license is grounds for discipline by the Board. It shall be certified on the renewal form whether the fingerprints have been submitted. This requirement is waived if the licensee is renewed in an inactive status, or is actively serving in the military outside the country. For instructions, please refer to Fingerprint Requirement for License Renewal .

Reporting 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, the USA and its territories, military court or other country since they last renewed their license. For additional information, please refer to License Discipline and Convictions.

Military RNs
The Board waives the continuing education requirement and the delinquent penalty fee for renewals of RNs actively serving in any branch of the U.S. armed services during active U.S. military operations against any foreign power, whether or not war has been formally declared. Please refer to Special Renewal Provisions for Military RNs for additional information.

Renewing a License in Inactive Status
Inactive status means that the RN has paid the renewal fee, but has not completed the continuing education requirement. A licensee cannot practice as a registered nurse in California with an inactive license. To change from inactive to active status, the licensee must submit proof of 30 contact hours of continuing education taken within the past two years. 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.

Renewing a Lapsed License
The delinquent renewal fee and proof of completion of 30 hours of continuing education are required in order to renew to active status. If a license remains lapsed for more than 8 years and the licensee does not have a current, active license in another state, the licensee will be required to retake and pass the licensing examination to be reinstated.

License Renewal

Currently active licensees may not renew earlier than 3 months prior to the expiration date of their license.

Renewal applicants must provide the following:

You may renew your RN license by one of the following methods:

If you have not received your renewal form by mail or it has been misplaced, you can download and complete a renewal form below:

Incomplete Renewal Instructions

Failure to provide all required information will result in a delay in the processing of your renewal application. This will be indicated by an "Incomplete Renewal" status when verifying the license using the BreEZe License Verification System. Click on the "Description" link next to "Incomplete Renewal" for clarification.

Click a link below to download the appropriate form:

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 taken within the past two years, certify compliance with the fingerprint requirement, and respond to the license discipline / conviction question. Download and print the Inactive to Active License form and submit to the Board for active status.

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

I just renewed my license; why does it say "inactive"?

The renewal form asks the question “Are you renewing your license to active status?”

  • If you wish to renew to Active status you should answer this question “YES”.
  • If you wish to renew Inactive status you should answer this question “NO”.

If you answer this question “No” in error, you will receive an inactive license. If this occurs and you want to change the status of your license back to “Active”, you will need to complete the Inactive to Active form and fax, e-mail, or mail to the Board. The Board makes every effort to process these requests immediately. The most efficient method of submission of this form is via fax. For all other methods, please allow up to 2 weeks for processing.

  • Fax: (916) 574-7699
  • Email: Renewals.BRN@dca.ca.gov
  • Mailing Address:
    Board of Registered Nursing
    Attn: Renewals Unit
    PO Box 944210
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2100

NOTE: A new "Active" card will not be mailed out to you. If, upon reactivation of your license, you require a new pocket card with your "Active" status, please complete the Request For Duplicate License form and submit it to the Board via postal mail. There is a $30 fee for a duplicate replacement pocket card.

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

If you once held a permanent California RN license that has been expired for longer than eight (8) years, and you 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 8 years or longer.
  • Presently hold a current and active registered nurse license in another state or U.S. territory, which includes Guam, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, or Canada.

NOTE: If your license has been expired for longer than (8) years, but you do not meet the above requirements, you must apply to the Board to take the NCLEX-RN examination as an 8-Year Retake.

Please refer to the Application for Reinstatement of a Lapsed License (8-Year Renewal) for detailed instructions and forms that may be completed online and printed or printed and completed by hand.

Applicants must provide the following:

  • Appropriate Fee(s) made payable to the Board of Registered Nursing in the form of a check or U.S. Money Order.
  • Completed Application for Reinstatement of a Lapsed License (8-Year Renewal).
  • Proof of completion of 30 hours of BRN approved Continuing Education (taken within the last two years).
  • Completed fingerprints (if applicable) using either the Live Scan Process or the Fingerprint Card (Hard Card) processing method. See FINGERPRINT REQUIREMENT in the instructions to determine if you are required to submit fingerprints.
  • License Discipline / Conviction Certification and if applicable, documents and/or letters explaining prior convictions or disciplinary action. See instructions for REPORTING LICENSE DISCIPLINE AND/OR CONVICTIONS.
  • A photocopy of your current, active, RN license.
  • Completed Verification of License for OR Nursys® Verification Request Application if your board of nursing participates in Nursys®.

Advanced Practice Certificates

The following advanced practice certificates require additional renewal fees.

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse-Midwife
  • Nurse-Midwife Furnishing
  • Nurse Practitioner Furnishing

Renewal fees for the advanced practice certificates listed above are due at the same time as your RN license renewal fee. If you have not received your renewal form by mail or it has been misplaced, you can download and complete the appropriate form here.

Nurse Practitioner, Public Health Nurse, and/or Psychiatric Mental/Health Nurse certificates are automatically renewed in conjunction with the RN license. No additional fees are required.

Continuing education is not required for renewal of advanced practice certificates.

Continuing Education Provider Numbers

The CEP number expires two years from the date of initial issuance. As a courtesy to you, a renewal notice is mailed to the address on record approximately three months prior to the expiration date. A 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 when 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 more will be retired and you must submit a new application for review and issuance of a new provider number.

Courses cannot be offered under your provider number once it has expired.