How to Get Your Registered Nursing License in California + Renewal


Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA


Are you in nursing school earning your registered nurse degree or already have a degree and want to practice in California? Do you have a nursing license in another state and want to find out how to get your RN license in California? If so, you have found the right article!

As you continue reading, I will share a step-by-step process to get your registered nursing license in California, including telling you different ways to get your license and the steps you need to follow to obtain or renew your license. I will also some frequently asked questions about having an RN license in California!



WHAT EXACTLY IS A CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE?


A registered nursing license in California is a formal, legal authorization to work in the capacity of a registered nurse in the state of California. The California RN license is issued by the State Board of Registered Nursing to eligible applicants who have successfully passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, also referred to as the NCLEX-RN.

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WHY DO YOU NEED TO GET YOUR RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?


You must be licensed by the California Board of Registered Nursing to practice as an RN in California. It is unlawful for a person without an active California RN license to practice as a registered nurse, offer to practice as a registered nurse, impersonate an RN, pretend to be licensed as an RN, or use the title “Registered Nurse” or “RN” in California. Individuals who violate this law are subject to fines, jail time, and forfeiture of the right to become licensed as a registered nurse in the state. (Business and Professions Codes Sections 2795 and 2796)



IS IT HARD TO GET A REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?


To practice as a registered nurse in California, you must obtain a license from the California Board of Registered Nursing. As long as you meet licensing criteria and follow the steps designated by the Board of Nursing, the process should not be difficult.

The first step is to graduate from an accredited registered nursing program. You may choose to earn an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. After graduating from your nursing program, you must apply to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You may apply online to take the exam or obtain an application packet from the Board of Registered Nursing.

Your college or university will send copies of your transcripts to the Board of Registered Nursing for verification that you met the educational criteria for licensure. All candidates for obtaining an RN license in California must pass a fingerprint background check.



WHO ISSUES RN LICENSES IN CALIFORNIA?


The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) regulates registered nursing practice in California. The Board sets education standards for nursing programs and ensures candidates for licensure meet eligibility requirements to become licensed. Once all criteria are met, and you pass the NCLEX-RN, the California Board of Registered Nursing issues eligible applicants a registered nursing license in California.



5 INTERESTING FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA BOARD OF REGISTERED NURSING


The California Board of Registered Nursing oversees the health, safety, and well-being of the public by monitoring, implementing, regulating, and governing nursing education and practices in California. The Board oversees all applicants and current registered nurses who hold an RN license in California. The following are a few facts about the Board you may find interesting.

INTERESTING FACT #1: The California Board of Registered Nursing was established over 100 years ago!

The first division of the California Board of Registered Nursing was established in 1905. At that time, Legislature gave the University of California Board of Regents authority to set standards for registered nursing, approve educational programs, administer examinations, and issue and revoke certificates of registered nurses in the state.

INTERESTING FACT #2: The California Nurse Education Initiative has been instrumental in helping with the nursing shortage in California.

In 2005, the governor of California implemented the California Nurse Education Initiative, which is governed by the California Board of Registered Nursing and provided $90 million to increase and expand nurse education programs and opportunities in the state. The Initiative was implemented in response to a critical shortage of RNs in the state. This initiative resulted in one of the largest initiatives in history used to address nursing shortages and provide education opportunities for the nursing profession.

INTERESTING FACT #3: The California Board of Registered Nursing has many responsibilities, protecting nurses, consumers, and the public.

The California Board of Registered Nursing protects consumers by establishing and enforcing education standards for registered nurses, approving nursing programs in the state, and evaluating applicants seeking licensure. The Board is also responsible for taking disciplinary action against RNs who violate the Nursing Practice Act and manages intervention programs to help nurses with mental illness or chemical dependency issues to get back on track.

INTERESTING FACT #4: The California Board of Registered Nursing supports efforts to be environmentally aware through The Green Project.

In 2017, the California Board of Registered Nursing took steps to initiate The Green Project. This initiative was designed to help the Board “Go Green,” eliminating pocket cards for registered nurses. Instead of issuing hard copy licenses, licensees may verify the most up-to-date information about licenses and certifications through the DCA License Search system.

INTERESTING FACT #5: The Board of Registered Nursing in California is supportive of nurses with substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses and has programs to help in their recovery.

In 1984, as an alternative to disciplinary action, California state law established a Diversion Program, which means the Board of Registered Nursing now seeks ways to identify and offer rehabilitative options for registered nurses affected by mental illness or substance abuse disorders. This program, now referred to as the Intervention Program, aims to help registered nurses return to safe practice without endangering public safety and health. To date, more than 2,000 registered nurses have completed the program and returned to work in full RN capacity.



IS CALIFORNIA A COMPACT REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE STATE?


California is currently not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. If you have a registered nursing license in California, you may receive a nursing license in other states, but you must apply for those licenses individually in each state where you wish to practice.



WHAT ARE THE 2 WAYS TO GET YOUR REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?


You can obtain a California RN license by two methods, Licensure by Examination or Licensure by Endorsement.

By Examination:

Licensure by Examination is the process of taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN). Licensure by Examination is available to applicants who have never taken and passed the NCLEX-RN or have never been licensed as an RN in another state. You must meet licensing requirements approved by the State Board of Nursing to take the examination.

Through Endorsement:

Candidates for Licensure by Endorsement must have completed a nursing education program that meets the criteria for California nurse licensure and must have passed the NCLEX-RN or State Board Test Pool Examination. To qualify for Licensure by Endorsement in California, you must have an active, unrestricted Registered Nurse license in another state, Canada, or U.S. territory.



HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET YOUR RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?


The processing times for getting a registered nursing license in California a varies depending on whether you apply for licensure by examination or endorsement and if you apply for a temporary license. Applicants for both licensure by examination and endorsement who are military members, refugees, asylees, and holders of SIVs may receive their licenses in one to two weeks, which is much sooner than other applicants.

By Examination:

The average turnaround for receiving a registered nurse license in California when applying for licensure by examination is 10 to 12 weeks.

Through Endorsement:

When applying for a California RN license by endorsement, the average time frame is 10 to 12 weeks. However, you may receive a temporary license by endorsement in two to three weeks.



HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET YOUR RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?


Getting your RN license in California can cost between $500 and $1,309. Factors like whether you are a California nursing graduate or a graduate from another state, district, or U.S. territory, whether you need a fingerprint card or apply for a temporary RN license will determine the cost of obtaining your license.

All candidates seeking a registered nurse license in California must apply to the California Board of Registered Nursing for approval to take the NCLEX-RN. You must pay an application fee to the Board and a testing fee to Pearson for the licensing examination.

By Examination:

Applications for Licensure by Examination cost $300 for California program graduates. Graduates from another state, district, or U.S. territory pay a $350 application fee. International graduates pay $750 when applying for Licensure by Examination. Out-of-state graduates must also pay a $49 fee for DOJ and FBI fingerprint card processing.

Through Endorsement:

Fees for Licensure by Endorsement vary based on whether you are a United States or international graduate. Applicants who completed a registered nursing program in the United States or a U.S. territory pay an application fee of $350. International program graduates pay a $750 application fee. All non-California residents must pay $49 for a fingerprint card. Additionally, both U.S. and international graduates have the option of applying for a temporary license, which costs $100.

The registration fee for the NCLEX-RN exam is $200 for United States candidates and $360 for Canadian test takers. Further, if you change your nursing regulatory body after registering for the exam, you must pay an additional $50 fee.



HOW TO GET YOUR REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA BY EXAMINATION?

(The following are 5 steps to get your Registered Nurse (RN) license by examination in California in 2023.)


STEP #1: Graduate from an accredited RN program


About the Step:

The first step in getting a registered nursing license in California is to graduate from an accredited nursing program with an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing.

Pro Tip:

If you are still in high school, I highly recommend taking college preparatory classes. Many high schools now offer dual enrollment options through which you can earn high school and college credits concurrently. Your high school guidance counselor is an excellent source of information about which dual enrollment classes could benefit you as you prepare for your nursing school journey. Also, look at the websites for California nursing schools that interest you to see which prerequisites are required.


STEP #2: Create a BreEZe account and submit an application for state licensure by examination along with your licensing fee to the California Board of Registered Nursing.


About the Step:

The cost to apply for RN Licensure by Examination is $300 if you graduated from a nursing school in California, $350 if you graduated from another state, district, or U.S. Territory, or $750 if you are an International RN applicant. This fee is payable to the California Board of Registered Nursing. If you wish to apply for an interim permit, you must pay an additional $100.

Pro Tip:

Many nursing schools send applications for Licensure by Examination for the whole graduating class or cohort. However, it is up to you to verify receipt of the application and follow through with the appropriate steps. The fee for Licensure by Examination is not the same thing as the fee to take the NCLEX-RN.


STEP #3: Wait for your Authorization to Test (ATT) EMAIL.


About the Step:

After the state’s Nursing Regulatory Board verifies your eligibility to take the NCLEX-RN, you will receive an authorization to test via email. Your Authorization to Test will be sent to the email you provide when registering for the exam.

Pro Tip:

When I taught nursing, I always recommended that students create an email address used exclusively for communication about the nursing program. If you have an email used for nursing school, it is a good idea to use that email or create a new one for your Board of Nursing and NCLEX communications. Having a designated email address will help reduce the risk of important messages being sent to a spam folder or being overlooked.


STEP #4: Find Available Testing Centers


About the Step:

While waiting for your Authorization to Test, it is a good idea to find test centers near you. You can take the NCLEX-RN at several testing centers domestically and internationally. Most centers offer testing six days a week but have limited space each day. If you find a few centers where you think you would like to test, you will be prepared to schedule your exam when your ATT arrives.

Pro Tip:

I hate to admit it, but I am absolutely terrible with driving directions. Because I have arrived late more times than I care to admit, I like to suggest finding routes to the test centers where you may take your exam. Take a day and drive a few routes to the center(s) to determine the fastest route and an alternate route in case traffic is delayed for any reason. It is important to have an alternate path because testing centers do not allow candidates to enter once testing has begun.


STEP #5: Register to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)


About the Step:

You may create an account with Pearson at the same time that you apply for approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing to take the NCLEX-RN. However, you may not register for the exam until you receive approval from the Board. Once the Board of Registered Nursing approves your application, you may register to take the NCLEX-RN. Registration for the examination is $200 for U.S. test-takers and $360 for Canadian testers. The fee is payable to Pearson VUE.

Pro Tip:

You may register for the examination online or by phone. It has been my experience in talking with former students as well as from information found on the Pearson website, that scheduling online is the better option, especially if you want to get an exam date sooner rather than later. Pearson advises that “waiting to call to schedule an exam appointment may significantly limit the dates from which candidates can choose to schedule.”



HOW TO GET YOUR REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA THROUGH ENDORSEMENT?

(The following are the 5 steps to get your Registered Nurse (RN) license through endorsement in California in 2023.)


STEP #1: Register for a BreEZe account and fill out the Licensure by Endorsement Application.


About the Step:

If you are a registered nurse in another state and wish to obtain an RN license in California, you may apply for Licensure by Endorsement. The first step is to fill out the application packet. You must go to the Online RN Endorsement Application and create an account. On this page, you will select “RN Endorsement” and then “Start a New Application.” Along with your application, you must provide a 2x2 photo of yourself and your fingerprints. You may submit your fingerprints electronically using Live Scan or provide a hard copy fingerprint card from any official facility.

Pro Tip:

At the end of the application, you have the option to provide documentation you feel may be helpful when the Board reviews your application. For example, if you need to disclose disciplinary action against your license or rehabilitative requirements to maintain your license in another state, you should provide a signed and dated letter of explanation. This is also a good place to attach letters of professional recommendation supporting your decision to apply for Licensure by Endorsement.

Your photo should show your full face as you look straight into the camera. A plain background, similar to a driver's license or passport photo, is best.

If you are unsure of where to get a fingerprint card, the best place to start is at your local police station. If you are in California, you can find the nearest Live Scan fingerprinting service center near you.


STEP #2: Provide verification of your RN License.


About the Step:

To be approved for Licensure by Endorsement, you must prove you have current RN licensure in another state. You may submit a Verification of License form or use the Nursys Verification Application.

Pro Tip:

Verification of your license through Nursys is valid for 90 days from the date of request. Therefore, if you are requesting a registered nursing license in California by endorsement, do not request your Nursys verification before submitting your endorsement application.


STEP #3: Request your nursing school transcripts to be sent to the California Board of Registered Nursing.


About the Step:

The California Board of Registered Nursing will verify your transcripts to ensure you meet the educational requirements for a registered nurse in California before approving your application for licensure in the state. Electronic transcripts must be sent to the board at brn.etranscripts@ca.ca.gov.

Pro Tip:

The Board will only review transcripts received directly from your school or a third-party certified electronic transcripts vendor. Do not send unofficial transcripts, as this will delay the review of your application or, worse, lead to denial of Licensure by Endorsement.


STEP #4: Pay all fees associated with receiving your License by Endorsement.


About the Step:

The basic application fee for Licensure by Endorsement is $350 for RNs licensed in another state, district, or U.S. Territory and $750 for International RNs. Other fees include a $49 fingerprint card fee and a temporary license fee, if applicable to you.

Pro Tip:

Calculate the fees for all options you wish to exercise, including permanent license, temporary license, and fingerprint fees and pay them on the BreEZe online system. Print your receipt for records!


STEP #5: Decide if you want to apply for a temporary license while your Licensure by Endorsement application is in review.


About the Step:

Some registered nurses want to get permission to work as soon as possible, which is understandable, especially if you are relocating. The California Board of Registered Nursing typically takes 10 to 12 weeks to issue a permanent nursing license. For applicants wishing to begin work in the state sooner, paying for a temporary license, which is valid for six months, may seem like a good option.

Pro Tip:

As you consider your options, it is good to know that the Board can take 8 to 10 weeks to issue a temporary license. If the Board acts quickly on your application, there may be only a two-week delay between the time it takes to get a temporary license and a permanent license. Therefore, if you are not pushed for time to begin practicing in California, you may consider saving the money you would spend on a temporary license and wait for approval of your permanent license.



WHAT CONTINUING EDUCATION IS REQUIRED FOR YOUR CALIFORNIA REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE?


To keep your California RN license active, the State of California requires registered nurses to complete at least 30 contact hours of continuing education every two years. The only exception to this rule is for first-time license renewal by registered nurses who obtained their initial RN license within the previous two years.

Continuing education course content must be related to indirect and/or direct client care or related to the technical skills and/or the scientific knowledge required for nursing practice and must be at a level above what is required for initial licensure. Continuing education courses may be taken in areas of administration, education, management, research, and functional areas of nursing when offered by approved providers.



WHEN SHOULD YOU RENEW YOUR CALIFORNIA REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE?


Your first registered nursing license in California is issued for two birthdays, not two years, as in some states. Your license will expire on the last day of the month following your birthday. For example, if you become a licensed registered nurse in California on July 1, 2023, and your birthday is August 6, your license will expire on August 31, 2025. From that date forward, your license will expire on August 31 every two years.

The California Board of Registered Nursing mails renewal notices as a courtesy approximately three months prior to the expiration of your license. You may renew your license online through BreEZe Online Services.



WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOT RENEW YOUR CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE?


There is no grace period from the time of an RN license’s expiration date until the date of renewal. Therefore, if you do not renew your RN license in California but wish to reinstate your license, you must pay a late renewal fee and show proof of completing the required continuing education hours. If your California RN license remains lapsed for more than eight years, you will be required to retake the NCLEX-RN before your license is reinstated.



HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RENEW YOUR CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE?


Currently, the processing time to renew your registered nursing license in California is 72 hours for on-time online renewal. If you renew by mail, the processing time is six to eight weeks. If your license has lapsed for eight years or more and you apply for reinstatement, it takes four to six weeks after passing the NCLEX-RN for the second time.



HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENEW YOUR CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE?


The fee to renew a registered nursing license in California ranges from $190 to $350. A regular RN license that is submitted before expiration costs $190. If you renew your license past the expiration date, you must pay the delinquent fee, which is $280. RNs renewing their license after an eight-year lapse must pay $350.



HOW TO RENEW YOUR REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

(The following are the 10 steps to renew your Registered Nurse (RN) license in California in 2023.)


STEP #1: Fulfill continuing education competency requirements

California requires all registered nurses to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to qualify for renewal of their California RN license. This requirement comes into effect after your first renewal date.

STEP #2: Access the BreEZe System to Open the Application Portal

First-time users will click on “BreEZe Registration,” which is in the right column of the page under the drop-down menu “New Users.” Returning users will simply log in to move to the next step.

STEP #3: Review the “Registered Nurse Renewal Introduction” and the “Information Privacy Act”

All renewal applicants are required to read and acknowledge understanding of the Renewal Introduction and Information Privacy Act before moving forward with the renewal application.

Step #4: If this is your first time renewing, you must add your license to the renewal registration.

When you reach the "Add Licenses to Registration" section, you will choose "Yes." From the drop-down menu, you will choose "Board of Registered Nursing," then "Registered Nursing-RN" from the next drop-down menu. The application will then prompt you to enter personal information, such as your last name, date of birth, and last four digits of your social security number.

If you have more than one license with the Board, you still need to only complete this process once, as the system will link all licenses associated with your information automatically. Therefore, you may choose the option “No” when asked if you wish to link additional licenses.

STEP #5: Search for the "Quick Start" Menu and Follow the Prompts to Move Through the Remaining Sections of the Application

In the Quick Start Menu, you will click on “License Activities” and select “It is time to renew!” This step will lead you to a series of prompts. With each completed step, a new step or prompt will appear.

You will be prompted to read the Registered Nurse Renewal Instructions, Answer Transaction Sustainability Questions, and other application questions, including verifying your address and other important information. Failure to complete one section will prevent you from moving to the next section of the application.

Step #6: Complete the “Continuing Education” verification section.

At this point in the renewal process, you must add any new record of continuing education hours you earned. Remember, you must have at least 30 hours of continuing education every two years to be eligible for renewal. You will need your CEU certificate(s) to enter the required information in this section. You will continue adding CEU information until you have entered at least 30 CEU hours.

STEP #7: Complete the Work Location Information Section

You must provide information about your current or last employer, including the name of your employer, hours worked, and dates of employment.

STEP #8: Attach any pertinent documentation, if applicable.

On this screen, if you have any documentation such as continuing education certificates, transcripts from classes you have taken since your last renewal or conviction documentation, you will upload it here. If none of these apply to you, you may move to the next section.

STEP #9: Carefully Review Your Application for Accuracy

On the next page, you will find the Application Summary page, which is where you will verify all information is correct before submitting the application for renewal. It is crucial that you verify your application summary for accuracy because incorrect or questionable information can cause a delay in your renewal.

STEP #10: Proceed to Payment and Submit Your Application

The final step in the renewal of your California RN license is to pay the renewal fee and submit your application. You should be able to verify your online renewal and active license status within 72 hours of submitting your application and payment.



CAN YOU TRANSFER YOUR RN LICENSE FROM CALIFORNIA TO ANOTHER STATE?


If you have an active RN license in California and want to transfer your license to another state, you must apply for Licensure by Endorsement in the state where you wish to practice as a registered nurse. This requirement is necessary because California is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact.



HOW TO TRANSFER YOUR RN LICENSE FROM CALIFORNIA TO A NON-COMPACT STATE?


If you are a registered nurse in California and desire to obtain RN licensure in another non-compact state, you must apply for licensure by endorsement in the new non-compact state. You must have an active license in California and contact the state Board of Nursing in the state where you plan to obtain a license to practice.



HOW TO TRANSFER YOUR RN LICENSE FROM CALIFORNIA TO A COMPACT STATE?


Registered nurses licensed in California who wish to transfer their license to a Compact State must apply for licensure by endorsement in the Compact State where they wish to work. Because each state's Board of Nursing has different criteria for practicing as a registered nurse in their state, you must contact the Board of Nursing and verify licensing requirements. You must meet established criteria before applying for licensure. If you meet the eligibility for licensure in a Compact State, you should be issued a multi-state license from the state where you applied. Receiving a multi-state license from a Compact State does not affect your single-state license in California as long as you continue to meet licensure requirements and renew your California license on time.



WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON REASONS WHY YOUR RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA COULD BE SUSPENDED?


To remain in good standing and keep your license current, you must remain aware of changes related to nursing practice laws, keep your continuing education hours current, and practice ethically. Failure to do so could result in your RN license in California being suspended. The following are the eight reasons a registered nurse may experience a suspension.

REASON #1: Professional Misconduct, Gross Negligence, Incompetence, Ethical Violations

The most common reason why your RN license in California could be suspended is because of unethical, unprofessional, or incompetent behavior. If the Board of Registered Nursing receives a complaint of unprofessional conduct, incompetence (reported by patients, employers, or coworkers), dereliction of duty, or negligence, your license could be suspended pending an investigation. Based on the Board’s findings, you could face criminal charges, even if these acts were unintentional.

REASON #2: Drug Diversion

Your California RN license can be suspended or revoked for drug diversion of controlled substances or misappropriation of medications. These are serious offenses and violations of the California Nursing Practice Act. Examples of drug diversion include failing to waste controlled substances or other medications, when required, and theft of controlled substances for use by the nurse or for use by someone other than the patient. Drug diversion may occur by stealing medications from the narcotics cabinet, pharmacy, or medication dispensary. Additionally, falsifying documentation regarding medication administration is considered drug diversion. For example, if you document you administered a medication to a patient but kept the drug for yourself, you have committed drug diversion.

REASON #3: Not Paying California State Taxes

All licensed professionals in the State of California are subject to losing their professional licenses if they are found to be among the top tax delinquents. If you are an RN in California and make it to the top debtors' list, you can face suspension of your license or denial of renewal until your outstanding tax obligations are settled.

REASON #4: Falsifying Medical Records, Charting Errors, Failure to Keep Appropriate or Adequate Patient Records

I feel one of the most important lessons a nurse can learn is how, what, and when to document and how to keep adequate patient records. One thing I always told my nursing and allied health students is, “If you did not chart it, you did not do it.” I know that seems like a harsh statement.

However, your patient’s medical records are legal documents and could be used in legal proceedings. Even if you performed a procedure, administered a medication, or provided a nursing service, according to the law, if there is no proper documentation, you have no proof that the act occurred. Similarly, if you document that you performed a task that you did not, that is falsifying medical records and grounds for termination from employment, loss of your license, and possible criminal charges.

REASON #5: Failing a Drug Test or Refusing to Submit to a Drug Test

All nurses are subject to pre-employment and random drug testing. If you fail a drug test or refuse to submit a test when your employer requires one, you are at risk of losing your RN license in California. Depending on whether your provided care under the influence of drugs, caused patient harm, or came to work unimpaired but tested positive on a random test, the Board of Registered Nursing reserves the right to determine the outcome of your licensure status.

REASON #6: Failure to report being charged with, or found guilty of, a crime

If you are charged with or convicted of any crime, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, you must report the event to the California Board of Registered Nursing. A conviction involving a DUI or the use or possession of illegal drugs or alcohol is a violation of the Nursing Practice Act. Failure to report any of these, even if the event was expunged, is grounds for the Board to suspend or revoke your license.

REASON #7: HIPAA Violations

One of the most critical things we must do as nurses is protect our patient's privacy and confidentiality. It is so important that federal laws are in place to ensure we do so. When we acquire, use, access, or disclose any type of Protected Health Information in a way that results in the risk of the patient’s privacy being violated, that is considered a HIPAA violation.

For example, I was once on a hospital elevator with a few people visiting the hospital. On one floor, I got off the elevator, and two other nurses got on the elevator. Those nurses were discussing a patient on their floor without thinking that there were other people who could hear their conversation, which involved discussing personal information about one of their patient's condition. One of the bystanders reported the conversation to the nursing administration, which resulted in disciplinary action from not only the hospital but the Board of Nursing as well.

Because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is taken so seriously (and it should be), violation of HIPAA rules can result in disciplinary action from the nursing board, including sanctions on your RN license in California and termination from your job.

REASON #8: Failure to Report a Colleague’s Professional Misconduct

As nurses, our job is to advocate for our patients, which means we must always look out for their safety and well-being. Witnessing a professional colleague’s misconduct can leave us feeling “stuck in the middle” of a difficult situation. However, our priority must always be to protect our patients. If you witness a colleague’s misconduct, you are bound by law to report the misconduct.

Follow protocol according to your company’s policies, which means following the chain of command to file a report. However, if you feel the issue is dire and that your complaint was not taken seriously, you are within your right to report misconduct directly to the Board of Nursing. Failure to report professional misconduct could result in you being penalized by suspension or revocation of your license.



CAN YOU REINSTATE YOUR CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE AFTER SUSPENSION?


In some cases, you may apply to have your RN license in California reinstated after suspension. The process of reinstatement and your eligibility depends on the terms of the disciplinary action against your license and the factors that led to the suspension.

The Board of Nursing considers the following factors when determining whether reinstatement is possible.

• The amount of time that has passed since your license was suspended
• The number and types of violations against your license
• Whether you had previous disciplinary action against your license
• The nature and seriousness of the acts that led to your suspension
• Whether there was harm or risk of harm to the patient because of your actions
• If you have a criminal record


Once it is determined that you meet the eligibility requirements for reinstatement of your license, you must request a "Petition for Reinstatement" from the Board of Registered Nursing. Once the Board receives your petition, your name is put on a waiting list for evaluation. Unfortunately, this process can take ten to twelve months.

The next step in the reinstatement process is to testify before the Board of Registered Nursing. The purpose of the hearing is to present your argument as to why you believe you can serve as a nurse again. Finally, the Board of Nursing makes a decision on whether to reinstate your license. It can take an additional 45 days to receive notification of their decision.



MY FINAL THOUGHTS


If you are a registered nurse or in the process of becoming one and want to live and work in California, you must have a California RN license. Throughout this article, I shared information about how to get your RN license in California. Using the step-by-step process to get your registered nursing license in California featured in this article, you can now apply for and become a licensed registered nurse in California!



LICENSURE-RELATED FAQS FOR RN LICENSEES IN CALIFORNIA


1. CAN I PRACTICE AS AN RN IN CALIFORNIA WITHOUT GETTING MY CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE?

No, you may not practice as an RN in California without getting a California RN license. To do so is a violation of the California Nursing Practice Act.


2. CAN I PRACTICE AS AN RN IN CALIFORNIA WITH AN OUT-OF-STATE COMPACT RN LICENSE?

California is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. Therefore, you may not practice in California with an out-of-state compact RN license. Instead, you must apply for licensure by endorsement and obtain a California RN license.


3. CAN I PRACTICE AS AN RN IN CALIFORNIA WITH AN OUT-OF-STATE NON-COMPACT RN LICENSE?

To practice as an RN in California, in any capacity, you must apply for a registered nurse license in California. If you have an out-of-state non-compact RN license, you may apply for licensure by endorsement to obtain your California RN license.


4. IN WHICH STATES IS MY CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE ACCEPTED?

Because California is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, you may not use your California RN license to practice in any other state. Instead, you must apply for licensure by endorsement in any other state where you wish to practice.


5. ALONG WITH MY CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE, CAN I HOLD RN LICENSES IN OTHER STATES?

Yes, you may hold licenses in other states along with your California RN license.


6. CAN I GET A CALIFORNIA REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE FOR FREE?

There are fees to get both initial and renewed registered nurse licenses in California. However, some employers offer to pay the expense of your licensing fees under certain circumstances.


7. CAN I GET MY RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA WITHOUT PASSING THE NCLEX?

No, you may not get an RN license in California without passing the NCLEX. Nurses in all states must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure.


8. WHAT CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS AM I REQUIRED TO REPORT ON THE RN LICENSE APPLICATION IN CALIFORNIA?

Applicants seeking a California RN license are required to disclose all criminal convictions, regardless of whether they are misdemeanors or felonies, and even if the conviction was expunged.


9. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PROCESS FINGERPRINTS FOR A CALIFORNIA REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE?

Fingerprint processing for a California registered nursing license typically takes two to four weeks to complete. If there is a Department of Justice or Federal Bureau of Investigations delay, the process can take 30 to 90 days.


10. WHAT IS THE PROCESSING TIME FOR A CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE APPLICATION?

The average turnaround time to get a permanent California RN license is 10 to 12 weeks. Temporary licenses can take 8 to 10 weeks.


11. HOW WILL I RECEIVE MY REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

As soon as the state Board of Registered Nursing has verified and issued your registered nurse license in California, you may log onto https://search.dca.ca.dov/ to view your license and print the verification as proof of licensure. The California Board of Registered Nursing no longer issues hard copies of nursing licenses.


12. HOW TO FIND MY REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE NUMBER IN CALIFORNIA?

To verify your California RN license number, you may visit the state Board of Nursing’s website and choose the “Verify License” option.


13. HOW TO CHANGE MY NAME ON MY CALIFORNIA REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE?

To change your name on your registered nurse license in California, log into the BreEZe online services and submit a name change request. You must provide a government-issued photo ID and one form of legal documentation supporting your name change.


14. CAN I LOSE MY REGISTERED NURSING LICENSE FOR FALSE DOCUMENTATION?

Yes, you can lose your California RN license (or RN license in any other state) for false documentation.


15. HOW TO VERIFY MY RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

To check the most current information about your RN license in California, visit the California Board of Registered Nursing and choose License Verification.


16. CAN I VERIFY MY CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE ONLINE?

Yes, the best way to verify your California RN license is to go to the Board of Nursing’s online site. The Board of Registered Nursing’s licensing system is known as BreEZe.


17. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO VERIFY MY RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

You may verify your registered nursing license in California for free by visiting the DCA license search page. Under Boards and Bureaus, select Registered Nursing, Board of. Then under License Type, sect Registered Nurse-RN. Enter your name and license number if you know it, and select "Search."


18. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO VERIFY MY RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

You can verify your RN license in California in a matter of minutes online.


19. HOW DO I OBTAIN A DUPLICATE OR REPLACEMENT CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE?

The California Board of Registered Nursing no longer issues pocket cards or hard copies of RN licenses. However, if you want a duplicate or replacement copy of your license verification, you may make the purchase online through BreEZe Online Services or mail a Request for Duplicate Certificate to the Board. There is a $60 fee for a duplicate or replacement RN license/certificate.


20. CAN I GET A TEMPORARY RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

You may apply for a temporary RN license in California.


21. HOW TO APPLY FOR A TEMPORARY RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

You may apply for a temporary RN license in California at the time you apply for Licensure by Examination or Licensure by Endorsement. There is a $100 fee for the temporary license, and if granted, it is only valid for six months.


22. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A TEMPORARY RN LICENSE IN CALIFORNIA?

It can take 8 to 10 weeks to receive your temporary registered nursing license in California.


23. CAN MY CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE EXPIRE OR BECOME INACTIVE?

Yes, your California RN license can expire or become inactive. Your license is valid for two years, at which time it must be renewed. If you fail to renew your license by the expiration date, it expires. Your license will become inactive if you have paid the renewal fee but not completed the state’s continuing education requirement.


24. HOW CAN I REACTIVATE MY CALIFORNIA RN LICENSE AFTER EXPIRY?

You may reactivate your registered nurse license in California by paying your renewal fee online. You must meet the state’s continuing education requirement of earning 30 hours of CEUs within the previous two years.



CAREER-RELATED FAQS FOR RN LICENSEES IN CALIFORNIA


1. HOW MANY RN LICENSEES ARE CURRENTLY THERE IN CALIFORNIA?

There are currently 325,620 licensed registered nurses in California.

325,620


2. HOW MANY ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS ARE THERE FOR RN LICENSEES IN CALIFORNIA?

There are approximately 21,200 job openings for registered nurses with an RN license in California each year.

21,200


3. WHAT IS THE 10-YEAR JOB OUTLOOK FOR RN LICENSEES IN CALIFORNIA?

The ten-year outlook for nurses with a California RN license is good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be an increase in jobs by at least 9.75%, which is approximately 35,000 new job opportunities.

Employment New Employment
Growth (2020-2030)
2020 2030 Number %
323,900 358,900 +35,000 +9.75%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


4. WHAT IS THE STARTING SALARY FOR NEW RN LICENSEES IN CALIFORNIA?

The starting salary for new RN licensees in California is $40.72 per hour, $1,629 per week, or $7,060 per month. This salary is equal to $84,700 per year.

Hourly$40.72
Weekly$1,629
Monthly$7,060
Annual$84,700
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


5. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR EXPERIENCED RN LICENSEES IN CALIFORNIA?

The average salary for experienced registered nurses holding an RN license in California is $133,340 per year. This pay breaks down to $64.11 hourly, $2,564 per week, or $11,110 per month.

Hourly$64.11
Weekly$2,564
Monthly$11,110
Annual$133,340
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


6. WHAT IS THE METRO-WISE AVERAGE SALARY FOR RN LICENSEES IN CALIFORNIA?

The metro-wise pay for nurses working with a California RN license ranges from $99,280 in the Chico metro area to $164,760 in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area.

Metro Hourly Salary Monthly Salary Annual Salary
Bakersfield $56.81 $9,850 $118,170
Chico $60.78 $10,540 $126,420
El Centro $47.73 $8,270 $99,280
Fresno $59.31 $10,280 $123,370
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim $60.26 $10,450 $125,350
Merced $56.60 $9,810 $117,730
Modesto $66.59 $11,540 $138,510
Napa $70.38 $12,200 $146,400
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura $58.78 $10,190 $122,260
Redding $58.53 $10,140 $121,730
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario $58.40 $10,120 $121,470
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade $69.82 $12,100 $145,230
Salinas $58.19 $10,090 $121,030
San Diego-Carlsbad $56.65 $9,820 $117,830
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward $79.21 $13,730 $164,760
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara $76.94 $13,340 $160,020
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande $60.31 $10,450 $125,430
Santa Cruz-Watsonville $72.00 $12,480 $149,750
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara $55.37 $9,600 $115,170
Santa Rosa $72.67 $12,600 $151,150
Stockton-Lodi $62.68 $10,860 $130,370
Vallejo-Fairfield $76.12 $13,200 $158,340
Visalia-Porterville $54.77 $9,490 $113,920
Yuba City $58.79 $10,190 $122,290
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)



HOW TO CONTACT THE CALIFORNIA BOARD OF REGISTERED NURSING?


1. WHAT IS THE PHYSICAL ADDRESS OF THE CALIFORNIA BOARD OF REGISTERED NURSING?

Board of Registered Nursing
1747 N. Market Blvd., Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95834-1924


2. WHAT IS THE MAILING ADDRESS OF THE CALIFORNIA BOARD OF REGISTERED NURSING?

Board of Registered Nursing
PO Box 944210
Sacramento, CA 94244-2100


3. WHAT IS THE CONTACT NUMBER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOARD OF REGISTERED NURSING?

Phone: (916) 322-3350


Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).