Registered Nurse Certification in How to Become an RN in Hawaii: Nursing License Application and Renewal Guide

To practice as a registered nurse (RN) in the state of Hawaii, you must first apply for state-level certification. There are two main paths to licensure as an RN: you may apply by exam, or by endorsement. The processing of applications generally takes three to four weeks. Once you have received your license, you will have to satisfy continuing education requirements and renew your license periodically.

There are many steps to becoming an RN, as well as personal skills that will help you become successful in your career as a registered nurse. The nursing industry provides stimulating, flexible, secure, and lucrative careers, along with the many other benefits that are associated with the job. The job outlook for registered nurses is projected to grow faster than the national average for other occupations, by 12% from 2018 to 2028. This is in part due to the impacts of healthcare staff shortages.

Nursing salaries and wages vary by state. In 2018, the national average income for nurses was $75,510 per year or $36.30 per hour. The nursing salary in Hawaii was the second-highest in the U.S. after California. In 2018, the annual mean salary was $98,080, with wages of $47.16 per hour.

Professional and Vocational Licensing Division, Board of Nursing

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing Division, Board of Nursing is the governing body of licensure for registered nurses. There are three license types for nursing available through the Board:

If you wish to visit the office of the Board or deliver an application in person, the street address is:

Board of Nursing
335 Merchant Street, Rm. 301
Honolulu, HI 96813.

You may send applications and written correspondence to the Board’s mailing address at:

Board of Nursing
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, Hi 96801.

You may also contact the Board by calling 808-586-3000, or emailing

Registered Nurse Education Requirements

To meet the educational requirements for registered nurses, you must attend an accredited nursing school. The accrediting bodies include the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

There are numerous nursing scholarships and grants available, and some programs offer online RN courses to help you complete educational requirements. Hawaii does have specific requirements on the location of campuses in regard to online, out-of-state, or distance learning. It is important to ensure that you attend a registered nurse school in Hawaii, or seek a program that is equivalent and meets the Board’s requirements.

The available programs for becoming a nurse in Hawaii include:

RN Licensure by Examination

Those that are about to graduate, are recent graduates, or have not held an RN license in another state must apply for licensure by examination. If you hold or have held a license from another state, or you wish to renew your license, the application process will be detailed later on in this guide. To apply for licensure by examination, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Complete an online or printed application.
  • Submit verified educational documents:
    • U.S. graduates: You must have your nursing school send the following documents directly to the board: an official final transcript, or an official letter from your school certifying the successful completion of your nursing program. Your official letter must be followed by your official and final transcript when available and prior to licensure.
    • Armed forces graduates: You must submit a certified letter to the Board detailing the completed program, and verifying that the state Board recognizes the program as comparable and accredited. You must also submit official transcripts and a copy of the course descriptions.
    • Graduates of foreign schools: Your program must be equivalent to U.S. nursing education standards. You may have your transcripts evaluated by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). If you are approved, you must include one of the following documents: CES, Professional Report; CEP, Certification Program including English competency exam.
      • You may contact the CGFNS at:

Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools
3600 Market Street, Ste. 400
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2651.

You may also contact the CGFNS by phone at 215-349-8767.

  • Submit a legible copy of an unexpired government-issued identification card that includes your picture and date of birth.
  • Include a valid Social Security number.
  • Submit to an FBI fingerprint check which will include an FBI National Criminal History Record Check and the State of Hawaii Criminal History Record Check. This must be processed by the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJDC). Appointments for fingerprinting can be made 30 days after submission of your application.
  • Pay the Registered Nurse Application fee of $40 with a check made payable to Commerce & Consumer Affairs. Additional licensing fees will be made available due after passing the exam.

All required documentation, including payment of fees, must be submitted and received by the Board to determine eligibility for the exam. The Board retains applications for a period of two years after submission.

If applicants do not actively seek to continue with any further application requests in the two-year period, the application will be considered abandoned and forfeited. If an application is abandoned, the applicant will need to go through all parts of the application process in entirety. To discover if your application is soon to be abandoned, contact the Licensing Branch at 808-583-3000.

Fingerprinting and Background Checks

Fingerprint checks are performed through the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center. To obtain FBI national Criminal History Record checks and State of Hawaii Criminal History Record checks, applicants must be fingerprinted at Fieldprint, Inc.

You must make an appointment through Hawaii Fieldprint, Inc. 30 days after you submitted your application to the Board. Fees will be designated and paid directly to Fieldprint and will be sent electronically to the HCJDC. You can make an appointment at one of their Hawaii locations, or a continental U.S. location if necessary.

You can schedule an appointment by using the code FPHIBrdNursing and signing up through the Fieldprint website, or by calling 877-614-4361.

Applying to Take a Certification Exam

After you complete the application process and pay all necessary fees, the Board will determine your eligibility for examination. If you are deemed eligible, the Board will send you an NCLEX/CAT Candidate Bulletin and registration material by mail.

You will need to register through the exam proctor Pearson Vue. After you have registered you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT), with a detailed list of available testing centers. You may view the fees associated with the test online. You may also access practice questions online to help you prepare for your certification exam.

For more information on registering for the exam call 866-293-9600, email, or write to:

National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.
Examinations Department
111 E. Wacker, Suite 2900
Chicago, IL 60601-4277.

RN Licensure by Endorsement (Out of State Applicants)

If you hold a license in another state but wish to be licensed in the state of Hawaii, you must apply by endorsement, Hawaii is not registered as a compact nursing state. If you wish to apply by endorsement, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Verification of license completed by the originating state, which must include:
    • License number, effective and expiration dates;
    • Completion of an accredited nursing program;
    • Exam score and exam series;
    • Encumbrances or disciplines active or past on the license;
    • Verification of licenses held in any other states or jurisdictions.

If the state of your original license participates in NURSYS, you may contact the National Council to request verification of your license.

  • Criminal History Record Check Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report.
    • Applicants are required to submit to an FBI fingerprint check through the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJDC).
    • Applicants must be fingerprinted electronically through Fieldprint, Inc. and must be sent to the HCJDC.

To apply you must complete and include the following:

  • Application by endorsement;
  • Verification of License;
  • Social Security number;
  • FBI Criminal History Record Check and fingerprints;
  • Payment of appropriate fees by check or money order made payable to Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Fees vary by year and month of application acceptance, ranging from $166 to $234.
  • Read the State Nursing Laws and Rules.

If you wish to practice nursing while you wait for your Hawaii license, you may apply for a temporary permit — after you have completed your endorsement application — with a separate fee of $50.

RN License Renewal

All nursing licenses issued by the state of Hawaii are subject to renewal by June 30 of every odd-numbered year, regardless of their issue date. Renewal applications are made available 60 days prior to license expiration and will be mailed to the address of the licensee that the Board has on file.

You may file for a renewal through the online vocational licensing portal. Renewal fees are $176 for an active status RN, and $12 for an inactive status RN. If you don’t renew your license by the expiration date, it will be revoked, and you must discontinue practicing until the license has been reinstated. Requirements for renewal include:

  • Completing continued competency requirements;
  • Completing a Criminal Background History Check through Fieldprint Hawaii if you are randomly selected.

Continued Competency Requirements

Unless you qualify for an exemption, all Hawaii nurse license holders must complete at least one learning activity option prior to license renewal. You can find continued competency guidelines and approved learning classes or activity options in the Continuing Competency Guidance and Information Booklet.

Hawaii Nursing License Verification

As a public service provided by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, you can verify your nursing license’s status through the Professional and Vocational Licensing Search. You may perform the search by using your license number and code, your name or the name of your business, or your Social Security number and license type to check a pending application.

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