This article delves into the intricate network of laws, rules, and regulations that the California Board of Nursing must negotiate. It clarifies the procedures for obtaining and maintaining your nursing license in the sunny state of California.

The California Board of Registered Nursing, with its fundamental objective of protecting the public, plays a diversified and important role in supervising RNs. The California Board of Nursing provides rigorous criteria for nursing education, having evaluated over 140 prelicensure and 50 advanced practice programs. It also oversees 524,422 registered nurses, including 38,157 nurse practitioners, 34,969 nurses with advanced practice certificates, 41,537 public health nurses, and 923 nurses with current temporary licenses.

California Board of Nursing Contacts

Physical Address1747 N. Market Blvd., Suite 150Sacramento, CA 95834-1924
Mailing AddressPO Box 944210Sacramento, CA 94244-2100
Phone Number(916) 322-3350
Email Address[email protected]

California Board of Nursing Application Process

When you apply to the California Board of Nursing, the clock starts ticking. They’ve got a strict 90-day window to review your application, as laid out by the state’s rules (16 CCR § 1410.1). They’re committed to sticking to this schedule, but remember, each application gets a personal touch, so the review time might shift depending on your specific details.

Both U.S. and international applications for examination and endorsement are tackled in the order they’re received. For those in California, the BRN processes applications collectively after graduation, based on when your transcripts arrive from your nursing school. If your application comes in post-cohort processing, it’s queued up and handled according to the date it lands in their hands.

California Board of Nursing Licensure Eligibility Requirements

To don the prestigious title of a Registered Nurse (RN) in California, you need to complete the necessary educational journey, clear a criminal background probe, and pass the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX). 

Here’s a roadmap to CA RN licensure:

  • Kickstart the journey either online or by grabbing an application packet with crystal-clear instructions from the California Board of Nursing’s website.
  • Send off your application to the BRN, ideally 6 to 8 weeks before you cap off your studies.
  • Make sure your school dispatches your transcripts directly to the California Board of Nursing.
  • Undergo a fingerprint-based background examination.
  • Gear up and pass the NCLEX

If you’re keen to start working in a supervised nursing role while your examination results are brewing, consider applying for an Interim Permit.

CA RN Board Applicant Fingerprint Information

The Nursing Practice Act requires anyone applying for a nursing license to provide a set of fingerprints for criminal history checks through the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

Now, let’s break down how you can fulfill this fingerprinting requirement:

Live Scan Process

Begin by submitting your RN licensure application, choosing either the Examination or Endorsement route, via the BreEZe system. Upon application submission and payment, you’ll receive an email containing the BRN California Live Scan Form and further necessary details.

The Live Scan method is swift – results come back within a couple of weeks. 

If you’re not a California resident, you can still use Live Scan at a California-based vendor.

Manual Fingerprint Process

If you’re not in California and can’t use Live Scan, there’s the manual fingerprint (hard card) option, using an FD-258 form.

This method involves a $49 processing fee, payable directly to the California Board of Nursing. If you’ve applied through BreEZe, this fee is part of your total application cost. If not, you’ll need to pay this fee separately through your BreEZe account. Remember, these fingerprint fees are non-refundable.

After paying, you’ll need to:

  • Find a law enforcement agency to handle the fingerprinting on a hard card.
  • Fill out one fingerprint hard card (FD-258).
  • Mail the completed hard cards to the BRN.

If the California Board of Nursing receives a hard card without the associated payment, it won’t be processed and will be destroyed. To ensure smooth processing, include a copy of your application summary (if you applied via BreEZe) when you mail in your hard cards.

Most fingerprint submissions link automatically to your BreEZe account once completed, whether through Live Scan or with an FD-258. However, if there’s an issue with applying your fingerprint results to your electronic license file in BreEZe, your license issuance might be delayed.

For Live Scan, results usually reflect in the BreEZe system within 72 hours. Manual hard cards can take a few weeks to a couple of months to process.

BRN California Submission of Transcripts

Graduating California students: CA BRN-approved programs will send the transcripts to the BRN. 

Out-of-State Nursing Programs: Your transcripts must be sent directly from your school or via a certified third-party service (Parchment, National Student Clearinghouse, etc). The email for electronic transcripts is [email protected]

Transcripts emailed directly by applicants won’t be accepted; they must come from an approved third-party service or your school. Also, send your transcripts only after you’ve submitted your application to the California Board of Nursing.

International Nursing Programs: Mail your official transcripts directly to the BRN.

California Board of Nursing

California Board of Nursing Licensure by Endorsement Requirements

To qualify for endorsement in California, you’ll need an active license from another jurisdiction, an educational background that aligns with California’s standards, and you should have passed NCLEX-RN or SBTPE. Without the RN exam, California won’t endorse your license.

The California Board of Registered Nursing strongly encourages nurses to apply online. If you’ve already sent in a paper application, hold off on submitting a digital one, as this might slow things down. 

  1. Set up a BreEZe account if you haven’t one yet.
  2. Once logged into BreEZe, choose the “RN Endorsement” option from the dropdown under “Start a New Application or Take an Exam”.
  3. When you’re wrapping up your application, you’ll see an option to add additional documents. Go ahead and attach as much relevant info as you can. This helps cut down on extra paperwork, speeds up our review process, and lessens the chances we’ll need to ask you for more details.
  4. Ready to submit? Use your credit card to pay the application fees.

A quick heads-up: Nursys® verifications are only good for 90 days from when you ask for them. So, don’t jump the gun and request them too early in your endorsement application process, or they might expire before we’re done reviewing your file.

Effective October 1, 2023, section 1410.5 gets rid of the need for a lab component in the coursework if you’ve already met all other educational requirements in California. That means if you’ve covered anatomy, physiology, and microbiology theory, and you’ve been working as a nurse in good standing for at least two years, you won’t need to redo these courses with a lab component.

To qualify for this exemption:

  • Submit a transcript, outlining the courses in anatomy, physiology, and microbiology, with or without a lab component the Board requires for licensure as outlined in CCR section 1410.
  • Provide evidence of at least two years of nursing practice.

To apply — fill out the Coursework Exemption Attestation Form. It will take the CA Board of Nursing about two weeks to go over your form. If you don’t meet all the requirements for this exemption, you will be notified via email through your BreEZe account.

California Board of Nursing Temporary License

Becoming a licensed nurse in California you have the option to seek a temporary license while your standard licensure is in the pipeline, so you will need to complete the application for licensure by reciprocity before you will be able to request a temporary license. This temporary permit, valid for half a year, offers you the flexibility to engage in nursing work while awaiting your full RN license.

California Board of Nursing Examination Requirements

Another way to become a licensed nurse in California is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®). Note to fill any gaps in your education by taking an approved course first.

Here’s what you need to have ready when you apply:

  • The required fees.
  • Your completed online application for licensure by examination.
  • Your fingerprint records.
  • A filled-out Request for Accommodation of Disabilities form if needed.
  • Official transcripts.
  • Include documents or letters that describe disciplinary incidents and demonstrate your rehabilitation if there have been any. 

International graduates need to submit the “Breakdown of Educational Program for International Nursing Programs” form, along with a transcript request form, a copy of the existing nursing license or diploma, and any specialty certificates.

California Board of Nursing

California Board of Nursing Licensing and Certification

If obtain additional certification from a recognized national body, you can enrich your California nurse practitioner certificate with new specialties or qualifications.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • First, gather and submit your official school transcript. 

This document should detail the nurse practitioner program you completed, your degree, the date it was awarded, and your area of nurse practitioner expertise. 

  • Next, provide proof from a recognized national organization or association confirming your newly acquired specialty or qualification.

The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) has made this process smoother. You can submit a request online for the BRN team to update your profile. This update includes adding any new specialty, category, or qualification you’ve earned to your profile on the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) License Search tool.

The range of categories for nurse practitioners is diverse and includes

  • Care for individuals and families throughout their lives.
  • Adult gerontology, with a focus on either primary or acute care.
  • Neonatal care.
  • Pediatric care, again with options for primary or acute care.
  • Women’s health and gender-specific matters.
  • Psychiatric and mental health care for all ages.

California Board of Nursing License Renewal

Your license is initially valid for the duration of two birthdays, not two standard years. It ends on the final day of the month after your birthday. Following the first time, your license must be renewed biannually. The California Board of Registered Nursing sends email reminders 90, 45, and 15 days before the expiration date. You can continue practicing while your renewal is being processed, as long as you have paid the renewal cost and completed all of the conditions.

The different statuses your license can have:

  • Active: To keep this status — pay the fee and provide proof of completing 30 hours of CE on time.
  • Inactive: If you have paid your renewal fee but have not completed the required 30 CE hours.
  • Delinquent: This is for nurses stepping away from practice in California. 
  • Retired: For nurses who’ve hung up their scrubs but might return to volunteer. Under specific situations, you can still provide free nursing services in public health initiatives. 

If your license was in delinquent or retired status for less than eight years and you want to reactivate it, you must complete CE requirements. If it has been more — you will need to provide a valid license from another location or retake the examination.

California Board of Nursing Continuing Education Requirements

As stated in the California Code of Regulations, Section 1451, Article 5, to renew your CA RN license you must complete 30 hours of continuing education. Along with paying the renewal fee, these educational hours are essential. Remember, the courses must be finished either in the two years leading up to your license renewal or during the period of a lapsed or inactive license before reactivation.

Newly licensed RNs in California get a bit of a break. The first two years are free from this continuing education rule, except for the Implicit Bias requirement.

What counts as acceptable continuing education:

  • Home Study Courses: There’s no cap on the hours you can clock through independent or home studies.
  • Continuing Medical Education (CME) Category 1: These are golden as long as they fit within the required timeframe.
  • College Courses: College or university credits can be converted to continuing education hours. Here’s the math: 1 quarter unit equals 10 contact hours, and 1 semester unit equals 15 contact hours. The courses should be advanced (beyond basic licensure level) and could include advanced science courses or those needed for a higher degree or specialty certification.
  • Approved Courses: Look for courses okayed by state, regional, and national health professional associations, and other professional health and licensing boards. If you’re studying out of state, make sure the course is recognized by that state’s Board of Nursing.

A few no-nos in course selection: steer clear of courses focused on self-improvement, financial gain, liberal arts unrelated to patient care, basic orientation programs, personal appearance in nursing, CPR, basic EKG/dysrhythmia, and basic IV courses. Also, repeating the same course in one renewal cycle won’t give you extra credit.

Be prepared for random audits by the Board. Keep your course completion certificates or grade slips for four years, just in case they check in on your continuing education compliance.

California Board of Nursing

California Board of Nursing Practice Information

Understanding the scope of practice for registered nurses in California is vital to prevent limitations on nursing practice and the creation of unnecessary standardized procedures.

Nursing involves basic healthcare and extends to helping people manage daily challenges related to actual or potential health issues. RNs use a significant amount of scientific knowledge and technical skills in their practice. The law recognizes these functions as essential and commonly accepted in healthcare.

Let’s break down the types of nursing functions:

Independent Functions

  • This includes both direct and indirect patient care services. Nurses ensure patient safety, comfort, personal hygiene, and protection, along with disease prevention and restorative measures.
  • Indirect services might involve delegating and supervising tasks performed by other healthcare staff.
  • Specific skills like performing skin tests, immunization techniques, and drawing blood are part of a nurse’s repertoire.

Dependent Functions

These are the services that nurses provide under supervision. Often involve administering medications and implementing treatment or rehabilitation plans.

Interdependent Functions

In these scenarios, nurses use their judgment to implement changes in treatment or standardized procedures based on their assessment of a patient’s condition. This might involve noticing unusual signs or symptoms and then acting accordingly.

It’s important to note that these nursing activities sometimes overlap with medical practices. When this happens, adherence to standardized procedures is essential, especially if the nurse decides that specific medical actions are necessary.

The nursing profession is dynamic. What was once solely in the realm of medical practice can evolve into common nursing functions. For instance, tasks like measuring cardiac output pressures or inserting PICC lines were once considered exclusive to medical practitioners but are now integral to nursing practice.

California Board of Nursing Complaints and Disciplinary Actions

As previously stated, while renewing your CA RN license, you have to report any disciplinary or criminal convictions. The California Board of Nursing requires extensive disclosure of these problems.

You must notify any action taken against your license by a government agency or disciplinary body. This includes suspension, revocation, and even probation. You must also disclose any criminal convictions since your previous license renewal.

This term ‘conviction’ is broad and covers various scenarios:

  • Pleas of ‘no contest’ are considered convictions.
  • Convictions that have been set aside or delayed (under Section 1000 or 1203.4 of the Penal Code) also count.
  • Minor violations with penalties less than $1,000 are normally not required to be recorded unless they include alcohol or restricted drugs.

For each instance of discipline or conviction, the Board expects a few things from you:

  • A detailed written explanation of the events leading to the arrest or conviction.
  • Relevant documents related to the arrest and court proceedings.
  • Any evidence that might mitigate the severity of the issue, such as documents showing rehabilitation efforts.

It’s vital to approach this disclosure process with honesty and detail.

California Board of Nursing

California Board of Nursing License Verification

Since March 2022, the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) has shifted license verification for endorsement applications to other states’ nursing boards to the Nursys® system. This is a centralized online platform for all things license verification.

Keep in mind, that if you need to verify Advanced Practice certifications, Nursys® won’t cover that. You’ll have to directly reach out to the California Board through the BreEZe online system for this specific verification.

If you’re applying for licensure in another country and need to verify your California RN license, the process is a bit different:

  • First, grab the necessary application packet from the nursing board of the country where you’re applying.
  • When applying for California License Verification, make sure to include the specific details of the country you’re applying to.

After submitting your verification request, especially for international applications, it’s wise to follow up with the respective nursing board within three months to confirm they’ve received everything. The California Board will resend verification if it gets lost, but only within three months of the original mailing date.

California Board of Nursing Useful Online Resources

  • How do I contact the California Board of Nursing?
    You can reach the California RN Board at (916) 322-3350. Alternatively, please send an email to [email protected]. They also have a thorough website,, where you may get further contact information and tools.
  • How do you send transcripts to the California Board of Nursing?
    Have your school do it for you, directly to the Board. If you studied nursing outside California or abroad, electronic transcripts via a certified third party or straight from your alma mater will do the trick. Transcripts sent personally by students won’t make the cut.
  • Where to send my fingerprint card to the California Board of Nursing?
    If you are unable to use the Live Scan procedure, then use the manual fingerprint card technique. After paying the processing fee, fill out an FD-258 fingerprint card at a law enforcement agency and mail it to the Board.
  • What is the role of the CA Board of Registered Nursing?
    The Nursing Board of California is in charge of regulating and supervising licensed nurses. Their main purpose is to oversee licensure and education requirements, as well as the enforcement of nursing practice legislation.
  • How do you renew your California nursing license?
    You can do it online through BreEZe. You’ll need to complete 30 hours of CE and pay the renewal fee.
  • How to get an RN license in California?
    To obtain an RN license in California, pass the NCLEX-RN® and apply to the BRN California online or by mail, including all required evidence such as transcripts and fingerprint scans.
  • Is California a compact state?
    No, California is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. However, the state offers licensure by endorsement.
Still have questions? Do not hesitate to contact us