Nursing License Requirements in VA: Become a Nurse in Virginia

The Virginia Board of Nursing issues licenses to RNs and LPNs. There are currently 95,658 Registered Nurses and 28,653 Licensed Practical Nurses in the state, according to a database maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Virginia is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, as are most of its border states: Maryland, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. (West Virginia and DC are not members.) A multi-state license issued in Virginia will also allow for electronic nursing in remote states. A nurse can hold an active license in just one compact state — the one where the candidate has primary residence. The candidate may hold additional licenses in non-compact states.

Prospective Virginia nurses apply by endorsement if they have taken the licensing exam (or are approved to sit for the exam) in another state. They apply by examination if they have not yet applied in another jurisdiction or taken the NCLEX. NCLEX pass rates are listed by individual program on the Board site.

Select the type of Nursing License you are seeking:

Nursing Scholarships and Loans in Virginia

There are multiple scholarship opportunities for the state’s nurses. The Virginia Department of Health, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity has scholarship programs for nurses at different levels ( Some RNs may be eligible for financial assistance through the Virginia State Loan Repayment Program ( The Virginia Nurses Foundation is another potential scholarship source.

Nurses and nursing candidates should become familiar with the Virginia Board of Nursing website as regulations do change periodically.

LPN Requirements in Virginia


An LPN must have completed at least two years of high school (or the equivalent) and earned a diploma from an approved program. One can find a list of approved programs on the site of the Virginia Board — the document, like most on the site, is in Microsoft Word form.

Graduates of programs approved by other state boards are also eligible for license by examination. It is expected that practical nursing programs include at least 400 hours of supervised direct client contact. If a candidate did not receive this as part of the program, the candidate should call the Board at (804) 367-4555.

There are several additionl factors to consider before you select a practical nursing program. The article, LPN programs in Virginia, will help you better understand these factors during your selection process.

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LPN Application Procedure

The licensing application is to be filled out online ( Candidates will also need to register for the nationwide licensing exam ( This may be done online, by telephone, or by standard mail. The candidate handbook is available on the Pearson site and the site of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (

There will be a $200 fee assessed upon registration. Once the West Virginia Board communicates eligibility, the candidate will receive an Authorization to Test that will allow them to schedule a computer adapted test (CAT). The candidate will need to bring photo identification to the testing center.

NCLEX scores are reported as pass/ fail. A candidate who needs to retake the exam will fill out a short application and send it to the Virginia Board. The candidate will provide an address and other identifying information and answer a few questions: whether the candidate has been convicted of crime, whether the candidate has a condition which could impair practice, whether the candidate is entitled to accommodations for the NCLEX exam. (‘Yes’ answers require additional documentation.) The application for re-examination must be accompanied by a $50 fee.

The state’s practical nurses may wish to join the Virginia LPN Association, Inc. Contact information can be found on the site of the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (

LPN by Endorsement

An LPN who is licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction may apply by endorsement. The Board asks that LVNs who were licensed on the basis of an exam other than the NCLEX call them at (804) 367-4555.

Endorsement candidates fill out their applications online ( In many cases, license verification can be done online as well, through On the Board site, there are links that an applicant can use to determine whether the state of licensure utilizes, and if it does, to carry out the process.

If the state of licensure is not a participant, the nurse should print out a paper form, fill out the top portion, and mail it to the licensing agency. (The fee for license verification may vary.)

RN License Requirements in Virginia

RN Education

The Virginia Board requires RNs to have a high school education or GED plus a degree or diploma from a professional nursing program. A prospective RN should attend a state approved program. A list of in-state options is available on the Board site (

Programs approved by other state boards are generally acceptable as well. Virginia does, however, expect that RN programs will include at least 500 hours of direct client care supervised by a faculty member. Candidates who do not meet this requirement are advised to call the Board.

Read the “RN Programs in Virginia” article to learn about other factors to consider when choosing a Registered Nursing program.

RN Application Process

The application is to be filled out online ( The candidate will need to register separately for the NCLEX-RN. This can also be done online. The cost of examination is $200; the candidate will pay upon registration, but will not actually schedule an exam until after the candidate receives the ATT. (This will happen after some communication between the testing company and the state board.)

A candidate who needs to retake the exam must fill out a short application form for license by re-examination. A $50 fee will be assessed by the Virginia Board.

Out of State and International Nurses

RNs who have current or past licensing in a U.S. state or territory are licensed by endorsement if a review indicates that they meet the qualifications. License verification is necessary. A majority of states handle the verification process online, but there is a paper form for those that require it.

Registered nurses who are licensed in Canada are eligible for endorsement if they did their nursing education in English and subsequently passed the Canadian Registered Nurses Examination. Other internationally educated applicants may be required to take the CGFNS exam before the NCLEX. Foreign nursing candidates are advised to call the Board. The same goes for Puerto Rican nurses who have not taken the NCLEX exam.

Registered nurses may wish to join the Virginia Nurses Association ( This is a professional organization; membership is not required for licensure.

Another organization of interest is the Virginia Magnet Consortium; 16 of the 395 magnet health facilities are in Virginia.

Professional and Student Nursing Associations in Virginia

Virginia Board of Nursing

Virginia Nurses Foundation

VA Nursing Career Paths

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