The Requirements for the California NCLEX


California nursing applicants are required to sit for the National Council for Licensure Examination (NCLEX), a multiple choice, computer adaptive exam that tests students' knowledge of the policies, procedures and issues of nursing. Applicants must pass the NCLEX before they are awarded a nursing license, although the state does offer interim permits to examinees waiting for their test results. Requirements to sit for the California NCLEX include a completed application, a passport-sized photo, official transcripts, fingerprints, a criminal background check and applicable fees.


  • Nursing school students and graduates who are ready to sit for the NCLEX licensing examination in California are required to submit a completed Licensure by Examination application to the California Board of Registered Nursing, along with a current passport-sized photograph. Applications must include the applicant's name, address, social security number, contact information, email address, aliases, nursing program, professional degree information, background and criminal history. The application must be signed and dated by the applicant. As the California Board of Registered Nursing receives a large amount of licensing applications annually, applicants are advised to submit their applications at least four months prior to the date they want to sit for the NCLEX.

Fingerprint and Background Check

  • The state of California requires NCLEX applicants to submit their fingerprints for a criminal background check. Applicants can supply their fingerprints via either a "hard card," or a "live scan" process. If applicants have a criminal background history, they are also required to submit any letters or documentation detailing the circumstances surrounding prior convictions, subsequent disciplinary action and rehabilitation.


  • California NCLEX applicants are required to have official transcripts sent to the California Board of Registered Nursing from any California-approved college, university or nursing program where the student received his or her training. Transcripts should include both classroom and clinical coursework in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, medical nursing, surgical nursing, and pediatric, geriatric, obstetric and psychiatric nursing. A nursing program official should sign the transcript request forms.


  • Before their licensing applications can be processed, California NCLEX applicants must pay licensing and processing fees. The licensing fee is $75, the fingerprint and background check fee is $51; applicants who wish to be issued a interim permit to accept a supervised nursing position while waiting for their NCLEX test results must also pay a $30 permit fee.

International Applicants

  • In addition to the above requirements, international applicants must submit supplemental documentation. International students will find a form labeled "Breakdown of Educational Program for International Nursing Programs" included in their Licensure by Examination application packets. Applicants should send this form, along with their Request for Transcript forms, to their nursing schools or programs for verification. International applicants also need to submit a copy of their nursing licenses or a written explanation of why they do not have nursing licenses.

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