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Exam (NCLEX and Foreign Graduates)

Initial License by Examination 

Qualifications for Licensure in Iowa:

  1. Graduation from a board-approved RN or LPN nursing program. (RN Program applicants or RN graduates who did NOT complete or graduate from an LPN Program are NOT eligible to take the LPN Examination.)
  2. Prior to issuing the license, any past felony convictions or record of prior disciplinary action, regardless of jurisdiction, must be reviewed and approved by the board.
  3. Passing NCLEX examination as prescribed by the board.

The following items are required before authorization to test can be issued:

  • Completed Application for Exam (either Online or on Paper)
  • Two Completed Fingerprint Cards and Signed Waiver Form. (All applications will be returned if received without the Fingerprint Cards.)

Fee for first time applicants is $93 for the processing the exam application, plus $50.00 for processing the fingerprint cards, for a total of $143. Fees can be remitted online by credit card, or on paper by personal check, business check, money order, or cashier’s check.  (For security reasons, we do not take credit card numbers over the phone.) Note: All fees are nonrefundable.

  • Official Transcripts from the School of Nursing denoting date of graduation and degree conferred. Transcripts must be mailed hard copy by the school.

A separate application must be submitted online directly to NCLEX, including a fee of $200.  The NCLEX must be completed online at NCLEX On-LineNOTE: It is very important to completely read the instructions within the NCLEX Candidate Bulletin.

The application itself and the waiver form can be:

  • Accessed through IBON Online Services
  • Obtained from the nursing school
  • Downloaded from this website
  • Requested on paper from the Iowa Board of Nursing by sending an email, or by phone to 515.281.4826.     

Fingerprint cards are required for first time testers and those who are re-taking the exam more than 12 months after the initial application was received. The cards can be obtained from:

  • The nursing school
  • Some local police stations or sheriff’s offices.  Contact them to determine whether they have the Blue Applicant Fingerprint Cards available. 
  • The Iowa Board of Nursing by sending an email, or by phone to 515.281.4826.

NOTE: The License by Examination Fingerprint Cards cannot be downloaded from this website.

To avoid confusion if NOT submitting Online –

PLEASE submit Iowa Application for Exam, Fingerprint Cards, Waiver Form and fee ($143) within the same envelope to the Iowa Board of Nursing.

Exam applications are valid for the dates indicated on the Authorization to Test (90 days). If your Authorization to Test expires you will be required to re-submit both applications and fees.

Exam applications MUST be completed with Black or Blue Ink.

NOTE: To find out the status of your application go to the IBON Online Services (nursing.iowa.gov) and choose - “Check the Status of an Application in Process” prior to calling the Nursing Board office.

Examination Forms Available to Print:

Nurse Licensure Compact Information:

If you reside in a state that is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact Agreement, which includes Iowa, you MUST apply for licensure in your primary state of residence. Primary state of residence is defined as where you hold a driver’s license, vote and pay taxes. You can view the list of compact states at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. at www.ncsbn.org by going to the Nurse Licensure Compact link.

The compact does not supersede federal law. Military and federal employees may apply for licensure by examination in Iowa.

Name and/or Address Changes:

Changes must be submitted to the Iowa Board of Nursing in writing or by fax ONLY if AN APPLICATION FOR EXAM HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE IOWA BOARD OF NURSING. Submit changes to Exam Department: FAX 515.281.4825 or Email.

Information regarding criminal conviction:

1. Send a copy of the court records (e.g., trial information, judgment entry and sentencing order), with the application by exam.
2. A short written assessment of the conviction, your life before, at the time of, and after the conviction.

Special Testing Circumstances

Pursuant to 655 Iowa Administrative Code, Nursing Board, individuals with disabilities may request special testing accommodations. Inquiries should be directed to the Iowa Board of Nursing as early as possible, preferably prior to graduation, in order to expedite the approval process. You may phone 515.281.5535 or e-mail Lynn for additional information.

Exam results

License numbers cannot be released by phone.

If you pass the examination, you will receive your license and certificate in the mail. If you failed the examination, no information will be released by telephone and you will be notified of your result by mail. A paper copy of the exam results and Re-Exam Instructions will be mailed within two weeks to those who don’t pass the examination.

Results are also available through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) by using Licensure QuickConfirm, which provides online license verification reports to employers and the general public at NO CHARGE.

Updated 3/15