Initial License by Examination
Foreign applicants for examination: Go to Exam and then RN/LPN Licensure by Examination for Foreign Graduates.
Qualifications for Licensure in Iowa:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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 Fingerprint Cards submitted MUST be the two cards received from the Iowa Board of Nursing office or directly from your Nursing Program. This is a requirement of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations. (All applications will be returned if received without the correct 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 or by mail.) 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. Transcripts are NOT accepted electronically or by FAX.
A separate application must be submitted online directly to NCLEX, including a fee of $200. The NCLEX must be completed online at NCLEX On-Line. NOTE: 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 ONLY from:
- The nursing school OR
- 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:
- Application for License by Exam (Only needed if not completed Online)
- Exam Instructions
- Criminal History Background Check Waiver Form
- Criminal History Fingerprint Instructions
- Fingerprint Card Sample and Descriptor Codes
- Checklist - Exam
- Form to Request Transcript
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. A fact sheet to assist new graduates can be found in this pdf file: NLC Information for New Grads
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 (i.e. sentencing order, disposition documents, trial information, judgment entry), with the application by exam.
2. A brief summary of the conditions that led to the charge(s) including date, location and outcome must be included with the application.
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.
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.