Nursing License Requirements in Washington DC: Become a Nurse in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia Board of Nursing is under the banner of the Department of Health. The National Nursing Database reports that Washington DC has 26,798 nurses – 23,308 RNs and 3,490 LPNs.

DC is not part of the nurse licensure compact. Nurses are licensed by examination or endorsement. (A candidate in a non-compact state picks one state to go through the NCLEX examination process, and applies by endorsement in any other state where the candidate needs a license.

Select the type of Nursing License you are seeking:

Nursing Scholarships in Washington DC

Nursing students can apply for national or local scholarships. Suburban Hospital offers scholarships to employees and non-employees (

LPN Requirements in DC

LPN Education

A student should enroll in a practical nursing program approved by the DC Board or a similar one approved by the licensing agency in another state. A candidate who completes the MOS 91C nursing program in the army is also eligible, provided the candidate earns the clinical specialist designation and is honorably discharged.

Application Process and NCLEX-PN Exam

A criminal background check is required before licensure. Candidates who are in the DC area should call an approved vendor: L-1 Enrollment or the Metropolitan Police Department.

The Board asks that application materials be sent with a $187 fee ( The transcript should be in a sealed envelope. If the official transcript isn’t available yet, a letter from a nurse administrator will be accepted to begin the process. However, an official transcript will be required before the license can actually be issued. Applicants who have questions that are not addressed in the application materials may call the following number: 1-877-672-2174.

The applicant will need to register for the NCLEX-PN separately ( The candidate must pay a $200 fee at the onset, but will not do scheduling until the candidate has received authorization.

Candidates can keep track of application status online.

The ATT grants a 90 day window in which to test. The candidate can opt to test at any Pearson center in the country. The Board notes that the testing company is under contractual obligation to offer a session within 30 days of the time the candidate calls. This doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate will have first choice when it comes to days.

The DOH will mail official exam results within seven days. Assuming the candidate passes, the candidate will receive the license at this time. If not, the candidate will receive diagnostic feedback and will be able to schedule another exam in 45 days.

Candidates who need to retake should submit a re-examination application along with an $85 fee. They will need to register again with Pearson.

The Board expects LPN candidates to pass the exam within a year of program completion. Those who don’t will need to complete NCLEX review.

International LPNs applying by examination should provide a CES evaluation and English proficiency scores. The evaluation should be sent directly to the Board by CGFNS.

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LPN by Endorsement

LPNs are eligible for endorsement (no further examination required) if they were initially licensed on the basis of passing the NCLEX or SBTPE and have a current license in some U.S. jurisdiction. (The SBTPE requirement is 350 on each section, and applies only to those taking exams before September of 1982.)

The DC Board requires license verification from the state where the nurse was originally licensed. If the candidate no longer holds a license in that state, the candidate will need to provide verification from the current state as well.

The application should be sent with a check or money order in the amount of $230. There will be an additional fee for processing of the criminal background check.

Applicants who are outside of the DC area should send their fingerprints to the FBI. They should send their receipt to the DOH as evidence that they have completed the requirement. A temporary permit may be issued.

RN License Requirements in Washington DC

RN Education Requirements in DC

Licensure as an RN is dependent on completing a registered nursing program that is approved by the DC Board or by an agency in another state or Canadian province. (An internationally educated nurse can be licensed, but there are extra requirements.) There are currently seven approved professional nursing schools in the District of Columbia (RN Programs in DC). If the program is approved by the licensing agency in another jurisdiction, it should include similar content.

The Application Process and NCLEX-RN

Application packets are available on the Board site ( The graduate should secure official transcripts or a letter of recommendation from an administrator (if the transcript is not yet available). The candidate will also need two passport-type photographs. The application fee is $187.

If a candidate meets requirements, the candidate will be issued a practice letter within a week (five business days). The letter is good for, at most, 90 days. It is not issued to a candidate who has ever attempted the NCLEX-RN. There are certain stipulations. A graduate nurse must be under the supervision of a registered nurse. The candidate is not eligible to work for certain types of facilities, including dialysis centers and correctional institutions.

The candidate should plan to take the NCLEX-RN within 90 days of the time the candidate applies to the Board, regardless of whether the candidate is working under a practice letter. The Board will extend the time limit only when good cause is demonstrated. The Board closes applications after 90 days – this is a shorter time frame than in many states.

Registering to take the NCLEX is a separate step ( The candidate registers, pays the fee, and then waits to receive authorization to test.

The Board expects candidates to pass the exam within three years of the time they first became eligible (which is generally figured by graduation date).

The District of Columbia Nurses Association is a professional organization for RNs (

Out-of-State and International RNs

An RN who is currently licensed in another state or U.S. territory can apply by endorsement, provided the candidate has already passed the NCLEX-RN or its predecessor. The candidate will need to provide license verification. The application is to be submitted with a $230 fee.

An internationally educated nurse should take an exam through CGFNS and be in possession of a certificate before applying to the DC Board. A candidate will need to demonstrate English proficiency through examination unless English was the sole language of instruction. (If the nurse has since been licensed in the U.S. and meets the experience requirement, this does not apply.)

Documents that are not in English will need to be translated. The translator will need to attest to their accuracy.


District of Columbia Board of Nursing

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