The requirements for renewing a nursing license vary depending on what state the nurse practices in and whether she holds a Practical/Vocational Nursing license or a Registered Nursing license. How often a nurse is required to renew her license also varies from state to state, but usually the state's Board of Nursing sends notices to a nurse a short time before her license is set to expire to allow her time to complete the renewal process without a lapse. Thus, it's always a good idea to ensure your address is updated with the Board of Nursing every year.
The most universal requirement for renewing your licensure is to have a license in good standing with the Board of Nursing. This means that there are no corrective actions or pending actions attached to your license. However, if you've had a complaint or legal Board of Nursing proceeding associated with your license since the last time you renewed your license, you may be eligible for renewal this time if you've properly handled the situation and followed the Board of Nursing's instructions for remedying the problem.
In most states, you must have an "active" license to be eligible for renewal. If your license has been voluntarily retired, has lapsed, or has been suspended or revoked, you must follow your state's procedures for nursing license reinstatement rather than renewal.
There are now 21 states that require you to attain a certain amount of continuing education credits, or CECs, during the time between renewal periods. The required amount can range from as few as 10 hours up to 40 hours; your state Board of Nursing can provide you with information about approved credit courses. These can be in the form of employee in-services, additional training courses or refresher education, but you must track these hours and may need to provide proof that you've received all of the CECs required during the renewal process. Sometimes your employer tracks this for you, but it's helpful to keep your own records as well.
Even if you're eligible for nursing license renewal and have completed all of the appropriate paperwork, the Board of Nursing doesn't issue your renewed license until your renewal fees are paid in full. It's highly recommended that you send a money order or certified check or pay online with a credit/debit card if your state offers this option to avoid any possibility of having your check returned for insufficient funds.