USA Nursing License (NCLEX RN)

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that health professionals are vital to societies. One of the ways nurses around the world look to advance their career while contributing to communities is by being licensed in the US. Read about how to do it below!

Table of contents

NCLEX: meaning

NCLEX is short for the National Council Licensure Examination: a nationwide testing for the licensing of nurses in the United States, Canada, and Australia. After graduation from nursing school, a student takes the NCLEX exam to receive a license. The NCLEX is owned by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN), which in turn develops the exam options.

There are two types of exam:

The NCLEX exams are designed to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to safely and effectively practice nursing at the entry level.

US Nursing License application

Students may participate in the NCLEX-RN program only after they have successfully completed an accredited nursing school program. State boards certify that students are eligible to take the nursing exam by issuing an Authorization to Test (ATT).

In general, there are two steps to applying for the NCLEX and getting a nursing license:

  1. Register to the nursing regulatory body (NRB) where you wish to be licensed/registered. Only after this can you register to take the NCLEX;
  2. Register for the NCLEX using Pearson VUE online or by phone. Then, pay the $200 nonrefundable fee using VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit, debit or prepaid card. Have your card ready during registration.

Your registration will stay open for 365 days waiting for candidate eligibility from the NRB. If you don’t get an NRB qualification within the 365 days, you will lose your NCLEX registration and exam fee.

Once made eligible, you must test within the validity dates on the Authorization to Test (ATT) email.

US Nursing License for foreign nurses

Foreign-educated nurses must also pass the NCLEX to get a nursing license. But before that, they must be prescreened by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).

In prescreening, there will be a review of the nurses' education; licensure in the home country; English language proficiency testing; and a predictor exam that provides an indicator of the nurse's ability to pass the U.S. national licensure exam (NCLEX).

There are some state boards of nursing that will accept the Canadian Nurses Association Testing Service (CNATS) or the Canadian Registered Nurses Examination (CRNE). There are also a few state boards of nursing that will directly endorse foreign-educated nurses who have never taken the NCLEX. This information depends on the specific state boards of nursing.

Nursing License verification

Verifying your license with an External Link Nursys verification participating board is done when you are applying for endorsement into another state. The nurse verification process is done for $30 per license type, per each board of nursing where the nurse is applying. The verification is available immediately to the endorsing board of nursing.

Documents required for the NCLEX exam

As mentioned above, nursing professionals must complete their respective nursing programs before they can sit for an NCLEX examination. They must also receive permission to take an examination from their State Board of Nursing.

The documental requirements depend on your State Board of Nursing, but here is the general list:

If any of these documents are in a foreign language, you must provide official English translations.

NCLEX exam fee

The fee is $200 and nonrefundable, payable by VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit, debit, or prepaid card.

US Nursing License in other countries

As mentioned above, NCLEX itself doesn’t only work in the US, but also in Canada and Australia. Besides these countries, Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Italy also accept US nursing licenses.

US nursing license photo requirements

The photo for the US nursing license application has the following parameters:

Here is an example:

US nursing license photo

As you will need a picture to register, make sure your photo fulfills all the needed criteria. While applying online, you will need a digital photo. To make sure that your images are compliant down to the minor details, we recommend you trust your photo editing to a professional tool like Visafoto.

Take an image with a smartphone or camera against any background, upload it here and instantly get a professional photo for your visa, passport or ID.
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Source photo example that you need to take in order to make a passport or visa photo at


Result example: a correct visa or passport photo that you will receive

Just upload a portrait of yourself taken in appropriate lighting, with proper dress code, and adequately posed: look straight to the camera and keep a neutral expression. Visafoto will take care of the rest.

Take an image with a smartphone or camera against any background, upload it here, and instantly get a professional photo for your visa, passport, or ID.

Original picture

You will have two types of photos: a digital one for electronic applications and another one suitable for printing.

Here they are:

Example photo for US nursing license
Photos for US nursing license for printing

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