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.

Licensure by Examination Instructions

The Board of Registered Nursing highly recommends that applicants apply online. If you have previously submitted a paper application, do not submit an electronic version as that could slow down the process.

Click to open the application instructions. Application instructions also include associated forms that may be attached to online application as needed.

How to apply online (see the Online RN Initial Exam Application Instructions) for a screen-by-screen walkthrough of the online application process):

1. Register for a BreEZe account, if you have not done so previously.

2. On your BreEZe account homepage, select "RN Initial Exam Application" from the dropdown menu below "Start a New Application or Take an Exam".

3. At the end of the application process, you will have the opportunity to attach documents to the application. Please attach as much information as possible to reduce paperwork, speed the review process, and reduce the need for deficiency letters.

For students who need reasonable accommodations, you can scan and attach the Request for Accommodation of Disabilities form to your online application.

For students disclosing previous discipline on another healthcare license, you can attach:

  • Letter of explanation (signed and dated)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation/support
  • Out of state discipline documents
  • Any other rehabilitation information listed in section II "Reporting Prior Discipline Against Licenses" of the application instructions packet.

NOTE: See Important Notice Regarding Your Application for additional information for applicants with discipline on another healthcare license.

4. You must pay application fees with a valid credit card.

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.

See CA RN Licensure Qualifications for Graduates of International Nursing Program for additional details.

Submission of Transcripts

Graduating California students: California Board-approved nursing programs will submit your transcripts to the Board electronically upon completion of your program.

Out of State Nursing Programs: If you attended a nursing program in another State, you may have your transcripts sent to our Board electronically from a certified third-party electronic transcripts vendor such as Parchment, National Student Clearinghouse*, or directly from your school. Electronic transcripts must be sent to

*If requesting transcripts via National Student Clearinghouse, please use these instructions to ensure proper delivery of your electronic transcripts to the Board.

International Nursing Programs: If you attended a nursing program in another country, you must have your official transcripts sent to the Board by mail.