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Registered Nurse Certification in California

Registered Nurse Certification in California

Registered nurse certification in California gives you a clear legal authorization to practice nursing in the state. RN licensure provides assurance to the patients and their families that the nurse meets the requisite standards. The California Board of Registered Nursing (CBRN) has the authority to issue nursing license to the eligible candidates.

Requirements to Obtain RN License

The applicants must accomplish the following requirements in order to obtain the RN license:

  • The candidate is ought to be of 18 years or above.
  • Deposit the requisite non-refundable certification fee along with other documents, including 2” x 2” passport-size photo.
  • Fingerprint report for the sake of criminal background check must be submitted.
  • Provide your U.S. social security number.
  • Request your nursing school to forward certified transcripts to the CBRN.
  • Request for Transcript form from your school and also send Breakdown of Educational Program for obtaining International Nursing Programs form.
  • If your transcript isn’t in English, provide your certified translator with the Certified English Translation form.

Besides above requirements, there are some other specific requisites that candidates must meet. They are:

1. By Examination

  • You need to acquire associate, bachelor or diploma in nursing.
  • Applicants must take and pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination) exam.

2. By Endorsement

  • You must hold active and current RN license in other U.S. state or territory.
  • The applicants are ought to submit license verification from that Board of Nursing from where, they took the examination.

Procedure to Obtain RN License in CA

1. By Examination : The stepwise process for getting RN certification in California is:

Step 1- Choosing the Nursing Program

In California, there are three types of nursing programs. You need to graduate in any one of the following:

  • ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing): It takes 2-3 years to finish the ADN degree. It prepares you to provide nursing care in varied settings.
  • BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing): 4 years are taken to complete the BSN degree and is also referred as Baccalaureate degree. It prepares you to move to different administrative and leadership positions.
  • ELM (Entry Level Masters Program in Nursing): The applicants, who have a BSN degree in other field and desire to become a registered nurse, can apply for this degree. It takes 1-2 years to complete the degree depending on the nursing courses, the applicant has already completed in the past years.

Step 2- Apply for Admission in the College/School

From over 130 approved nursing schools in California, you can choose any college depending on your area of interest.

Step 3- NCLEX-RN Exam

The applicant must clear the NCLEX-RN exam, which is a computerized exam and intend to test your competency.

Step 4- Procure the RN License

Finally, you are required to obtain an RN license. For this, you will have to trail the following steps:

  • Complete the Application for Licensure
    You can either apply online or through paper application.
    Paper Application: Applicants can download the form using the following link:
    After filling the required details, send the form to the Board address mentioned at the top of the form.
    Online: For online applications, read all the detailed instruction mentioned on the following link or directly contact the California Board of Registered Nurse.
  • Send your application at least 6-8 weeks before the completion of your graduation to the Board of Registered Nurse.
  • Request your nursing school to send all your transcripts to the CBRN.
  • Provide a set of fingerprints required for criminal background check either by Applicant Fingerprint Card or Live Scan Process.
  • If you want to work in a supervised nursing capacity till your exam result is declared, apply for an Interim Permit.
  •  Attach one recent 2”x 2” passport-size photograph.
  • Complete documents or/and letters explaining disciplinary actions or previous convictions, if applicable.
  •  If applicable, submit Completed Request for Accommodation of Disabilities form.

2. By Endorsement : The procedure to obtain registered nurse license by endorsement is as follows:

  • Submit fingerprints by Applicant Fingerprint Card.
  • Submit a recent 2”x 2” passport-size photograph.
  • Submit the verification of your license from the Board of Nursing, where you took your examination.
  • Submit the transcripts directly forwarded from your nursing school.
  • Submit completed letters or/and documents explaining disciplinary actions or previous convictions, if applicable.

Fees for RN Certification

For all the queries regarding the fee structure of RN certification, use the following link, which will give you a detailed idea of the fees:

How to obtain a temporary license in California?

At the time of applying for an RN license by endorsement, you may also apply for a temporary license, which is valid for 6 months. Thus, the applicants can continue their practice even with a pending application for a permanent license. A temporary license is issued in 4 to 6 weeks if all the formalities are completed.

The applicants require submitting the following documents in order to obtain a temporary license:

  • Completed licensure application by endorsement, including the application for a temporary license.
  • Appropriate fee mentioned in the application form.
  • Completed second copy of the Live Scan Service Applicant Submission form or Fingerprint Hard Card.
  • Proof of verification of your license from the state where you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Proof of your current active license from the state of endorsement.

Renewal of RN Certification

Every RN needs to renew their licensure timely depending on the status of the license (active, inactive, or lapsed) every two years. The RN license in California is generally issued for two birthdays, i.e., it expires on the last day of the month in which your birthday falls. You are notified by mail three months before the expiration date of your license.

Difference License Status in California

Active License: Registered nurses, who want to practice nursing in California, must hold an active license. To get your certification activated, you are required to submit proof of 30 hours of continuing education in addition to the renewal fees.

Inactive License: RNs, who hold an inactive license, cannot practice nursing in California. The license of those candidates, who have not completed their required 30 hours of continuing education, turns inactive. Submitting the appropriate fee for the current year converts the license to an active one.

Lapsed License: Registered nurses, who no longer wish to continue their practice, may let their license lapse or expire. If the licensee desires to re-start their practice before 8 years since the license expired, he/she is required to submit the renewal fee and evidence of thirty hours of continuing education. For more than 8 years of a lapsed license, the RN must provide 30 hours of continuing education, delinquent renewal fee, and proof of competency to practice either by retaking the licensing exam or by providing the verification of a current active license in another state.

Requirements for Renewal of RN License

The requirements for renewal of license are:

  • Renewal Fees
    TheRNs are required to pay renewal fee (timely) of $140 while registered nurse/8-year renewal fee is $205. If you renew your certificate before it expires, you’ll have to pay fewer fees.
  • Continuing Education
    All RNs are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education if they wish to hold an active license.
  • Fingerprint Requirement
    The applicants are required to present a full set of fingerprints to the Department of Justice as directed by the Board for criminal history record check.
  • Reporting Convictions
    The applicants need to demonstrate if they have had committed any crime in the U.S.A since their last renewed license.
  • Military RNs
    The penalty fee and the continuing education requirements of the licensee are waived off by the Board if he/she is a part of the U.S. military armed forces.

Documents Required for Renewal

The candidates are supposed to provide the following documents in addition to their application:

  • The required fee in the form of money order made payable to the Board of Registered Nursing or by credit card.
  • Renewal application, submitted either online or via mail, must include the following documents:
    • Certificate of 30 hours of continuing education completion within the last 2 years.
    • If applicable, certificate of Compliance including the fingerprint requirements.
    • Response to Conviction questions.

Methods to Renew RN License

There are three different ways through which, you can renew your registered nurse licensure. They are:

  • By mail
    You can mail the renewal application at the following address:Board of Registered Nursing
    Attn: Renewals Unit
    P.O. Box 944210
    Sacramento, California- 94244-2100
  • In person
    The address to submit the form in person is as follows:Board of Registered Nursing
    1747 North Market Boulevard,
    Suite 150 Sacramento,
    California- 95834

In case, the renewal form has not been received through mail, download the renewal form through these links:

Renewal Form (Timely):
Renewal Form (Delinquent):

Inactive to Active License

To change an inactive license to an active one, the licensee must meet the following requirements:

  • Proof of 30 hours of continuing education in past 2 years
  • Submit complete set of fingerprints
  • Respond to questions explaining disciplinary actions or prior convictions

The Inactive to Active License form can be downloaded from

After downloading and filling the form, submit it to the Board for activating the license.

Lapsed to Active License

The applicant, who wants to renew a lapsed license to an active one in California, must provide the following requirements:

  • Renewal fee
  • Evidence of thirty hours of continuing education within the past 2 years
  • If the certificate is lapsed for more than 8 years, the licensee needs to retake and qualify the NCLEX-RN.

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

If you wish to renew your registered nurse license that has been expired for more than 8 years, you must fulfil the below mentioned requirements:

  • You have once held an RN license in California that has been lapsed for 8 years or longer.
  • Currently hold an active RN license in another U.S. state or territory, including the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, or Virgin Islands.

Applicants must present the following documents for the reinstatement of a lapsed license:

  • Required fee(s) in the form of money order or cheque made payable to the Board of Registered Nursing
  • Completed application form
  • 30 hours of continuing education proof taken within the past 2 years
  • Complete set of fingerprints either using the Fingerprint Hard Card or the Live Scan Process method
  • Photocopy of your active license
  • Completed verification of license
  • If applicable, License Discipline or Conviction Certificate
  • One recent 2”x2” photograph

For downloading the application for Reinstatement of a Lapsed License (8-Year Renewal), visit the following link:

Deposit the application form including the required documents to the following address:

Board of Registered Nursing
Attn: Renewals Unit
P.O. Box 944210
Sacramento, California- 94244-2100

Endorsement to another Country or State

The applicants owning an RN license in California and wish to transfer it to another state or country must follow the following instructions:

  • Request the nursing board of the state in which you desire to get licensure, to mail you the requisite application packet.
  • Make sure that you meet all the eligibility criteria for licensure in that state.
  • Provide the complete information on the Verification of the Licensure form given in the application packet.
  • Attach a money order or a cheque of $60 made payable to the “BRN” and mail it with the Verification of Licensure form to the following address:California Board of Registered Nursing
    P.O. Box 944210
    Sacramento, California- 94244-2100

License Verification/Status Check

For the purpose of verification of licensure, the Board recommends the registered nurse to provide their original RN license card (as in the case of endorsement). In order to check the license status, the following link can be used:

Duplicate License

If your original license has lost, stolen, or destroyed, you may request a duplicate license from the Board of Registered Nurse by completing the required details in the form and attaching the required fee of $30 payable to the Board either by money order or cheque at the following mailing address:

Board of Registered
Nursing Attn: Renewals Unit
PO Box 944210
Sacramento, California- 94244-2100

The form for duplicate license can be downloaded using the following link:

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