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California flourishes as the top state for nurse employment and job opportunities. According to the 2020 Census, California accounts for nearly 12% of the national population [1]. With a large population, the demand for registered nurses in California is much higher. In turn, there’s thousands of available nursing positions that need to be filled quickly. There are many advantages to nursing in California, which is why job relocation is steadily increasing.

In turn, earning a California nursing license is not an easy feat. During peak season, the application period can take an upwards of 12-14 weeks to process. Don’t let the beautiful beaches and cityscape distract you from obtaining the necessary licenses to practice nursing in California. Our guide helps eager nurses prepare for a successful job relocation with detailed timelines and information to earn a California nursing license.

How do I obtain a california nursing license infographic title eisenhower health rancho mirage

When Should I Apply for a California Nursing License?

All available nursing positions require an active California RN license. As an out-of-state nurse, it’s important to start the process before or while applying for jobs. You’ll want to apply for a Licensure by Endorsement and it typically costs $350 according to [2]. The prerequisites include an active nursing license in another state, BSN or MSN, and proof of passing the NCLEX.

Applicants must have a background check and fingerprints cleared as part of the submission process. Due to the influx of applicants, the wait time for such clearances range from 4-12 weeks. If there’s an unexpected delay, coordinate with your employer to change the start date or learn how to obtain a temporary license.

Where Should I Get My Fingerprints Done for a California Nursing License?

There are two options available for fingerprinting through the California Board of Registered Nursing (CBRN). You can apply online at where applicants can choose between the Live Scan Form or Fingerprint Card.

Live Scan

It’s the preferred method since turnaround time is immediate. You must have the Live Scan performed in California from an approved location. Additionally, you’ll have to bring 3 copies of the physical form to the appointment. Even though the CBRN does not charge for the fingerprints, the service provider running the scan will. The fee varies depending on location but some nurses have reported it to cost $105 [3]. Before traveling to California, prepare all of the necessary documents for the Licensure by Endorsement to physically submit to the CBRN office located in Sacramento. This is the best method to ensure your license is received in a timely manner.

Fingerprint Card

Most out-of-state nurses opt for this method since it doesn’t require an extra trip. After submitting the fingerprint form online, the CBRN will mail a physical 8″ x 8″ fingerprint card based on the information provided. However, mail can cause major delays with one-way communication. The entire process may take 10-12 weeks, maybe longer depending if revisions must be made. Also, there is a $49 processing fee from the DOJ and FBI for the fingerprinting [4]. Additional fees from the fingerprinting site may be included as well.

What are the Required Documents for a California Nursing License?

After obtaining the fingerprints, the complete submission package should include:

While fingerprinting is the most time-consuming process to manage, it’s important to keep track of the following as well. If there’s a delay, it’s possible to apply for a temporary license. The current fee for the application is $100 and is valid for 6 months [5]. This benefits out-of-state nurses who are nearing their start date and have yet to receive their California nursing license upon submission. In order to qualify for the temporary license, you’ll need an active application for the Licensure by Endorsement.

Eisenhower Health offers our nurses full support during their transition. Within our Benefits Package, we provide upwards $15,000 for relocation. Our medical center is highly regarded as one of the best in the nation with a 4.8 star rating on Explore our available nurse jobs on the Career page to jumpstart a fulfilling nursing career at our world-class medical center.



[1] U.S. Census Bureau. (2020). Quickfacts California; United States.,US/PST045219

[2] Board of Registered Nursing. (n.d.). Endorsement application fees & instructions. California Board of Registered Nursing.

[3] City of Sacramento. (n.d.). Fingerprinting and Live Scan.

[4] California Board of Registered Nursing. (n.d.). Fingerprint Requirement for License Renewal.

[5] Board of Registered Nursing. (n.d.). Endorsement application fees & instructions. California Board of Registered Nursing.

Originally posted on 21/9/2021

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