Nursing Licensure Requirements in New Mexico

New Mexico’s Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses are licensed by the New Mexico Board of Nursing ( There are currently 24,821 RNs and 2,985 LPNs with active licenses, according to the National Nursing Database.

New Mexico is a member of the nurse licensure compact. If a nurse has a multistate license from another compact state, the candidate is authorized to work in the state. A nurse who is licensed in another compact state should not send an application to New Mexico unless the candidate is transferring residency.

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Candidates are licensed by endorsement if they already took the licensing exam in another jurisdiction. Otherwise they apply by examination; the New Mexico Board will need to authorize them to take the NCLEX. New Mexico publishes NCLEX pass rates by program (

The New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence is a potential source of scholarship money for nursing students ( There are both general nursing scholarships and home health and hospice scholarships. The latter are awarded to individuals already employed in home health or hospice at the aide level or higher; the funds help them pursue higher levels of education.

The New Mexico Nurses Association is an organization that represents nurses and helps them stay current with their training; it does not license individuals or give them the legal authority to practice. This New Mexico affiliate of the American Nurses Association accepts both RNs and LPNs as members, though membership category is different (

New Mexico LPN Requirements

LPN Education

A candidate should enroll in a board approved practical nursing program. There are multiple options. New Mexico has a number of career ladder programs which allow a student to complete practical nursing studies and test as an LPN after one year, then earn an associate degree after a second year of study (

Read “Choosing an LPN Program in New Mexico” to gain a better understanding of the LPN program education requirements and process.

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LPN Application Process

A graduate must have fingerprints done before the candidate applies for licensing; the candidate will submit the fingerprint cards along with paperwork that authorizes a criminal background check. It will cost $44.00 to process the background check.

Candidates who have their applications in to the New Mexico Board within 12 weeks of graduation may be authorized to work under a graduate permit while waiting to take the licensing exam. A prospective employer must make a request to the Board. The permit may be issued while results of the background check are still pending. The permit-to-practice is good for a maximum of six months. When exam results are received, the candidate will either be issued a permanent license or have the privilege revoked.

The candidate must register for the NCLEX-PN through Pearson ( The candidate will pay the $200 fee at the onset, but must wait for eligibility to be determined before the authorization to test (ATT) can be issued. The Board notes that the ATT may arrive sooner if the candidate provides Pearson with an email address. The candidate schedules a computer adapted exam sometime within the eligibility window that the ATT grants.

If the candidate fails an attempt, the candidate must submit a re-examination application to the New Mexico Board along with a $60 fee. The candidate may attempt the exam up to four times in a one year period; the candidate must wait at least 45 days after any failed attempt before making another.

LPN by Endorsement

Endorsement candidates must provide license verification from the state where they were first licensed. In most cases, endorsement candidates must show that they graduated from an approved program. LPNs must meet New Mexico’s educational requirements unless they were originally licensed by July 1, 1969. Military personnel who took the national licensing examination by July 1, 1977 and were subsequently licensed as LPNs, may be eligible for endorsement.

Canadian nurses are eligible for license by endorsement if they have taken the NCLEX and been licensed in another U.S. state. (Otherwise they need to take the NCLEX.) Fingerprinting should be done before application; the Board asks that fingerprint cards be included with the initial application materials.

The application fee for an endorsement candidate is $110, unless the candidate wants to work under a temporary permit while materials are being processed (in which case the fee will be $160). The application itself lists fees – candidates should make sure they have the most current information.

New Mexico Registered Nurse Requirements

Education Requirements

An RN should complete a board approved program. A list of approved in-state programs appears on the Board site (

Choosing an RN Program in New Mexico” offers several additional resources to learn about selecting an appropriate professional nursing program.

Applying for RN Licensure

When the candidate has met educational requirements, the candidate will apply to the New Mexico Board. A New Mexico program may provide a certificate of eligibility to the Board. Final transcripts from U.S. programs are acceptable for determining exam eligibility. (Foreign programs will go through an evaluation process before applying.)

A candidate who applies immediately after graduation may be issued a permit to practice as a graduate nurse if there is a New Mexico facility that is looking to hire the candidate. The candidate should begin the process early. the candidate will need to get fingerprint done. Additionally, one of the forms in the application packet requires a notary signature.

The permit to practice is issued to the prospective employer. It is only issued if the candidate’s licensing application packet arrives within 12 weeks’ of graduation. It may take 3 weeks or longer to process the permit.

There are multiple costs associated with the licensing process. The application fee is $110, the background check $44, and the examination $200. These go to different organizations or agencies and can’t be combined.

The applicant may register for the licensing exam by email ( or phone (1-866-496-2539). A candidate bulletin is available on the Pearson site. The candidate will wait to receive an ATT by mail or email, then schedule an exam. The Board will issue a license after receiving notification of passing.

Education (and support) doesn’t end with licensing. The New Mexico Rural Nurse Residency is a program to support novice RNs who are hired by facilities with less than 200 beds.

Out of State RNs

An RN who passed the NCLEX-RN in another jurisdiction may be licensed by endorsement. Official license verification is required. The Board notes that license verification may be requested before the licensing application is sent.

The fee for an endorsement applicant is $110 if a temporary license is not required, $160 if it is. The $44 criminal background check fee must be paid separately. The Board notes that it is very important that any criminal or disciplinary history is disclosed on the application form. A temporary license may be issued before results from the criminal background check have been received, but information that surfaces later could result in action against the license.

International Nurses

International nurses are eligible if their education is judged to be equivalent. New Mexico has approved four educational evaluation services: Educational Records Evaluation Service Inc, International Education Research Foundation Inc, Josef Silny & Associates, Inc., and the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools.

If the nurse did not do the nursing education in English, or pass an English language licensing exam, the candidate will need to demonstrate proficiency through one of the following exams: the IELTS, the TOEFL, or the TOEIC.

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