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Licensure by Examination


Out of State graduates must request an examination packet by mail by contacting the board at 515.281.6488 or

Iowa graduates who are graduating with a class should receive the online application information and the packet from the head of their Nursing program. Individuals completing the application separate from a class can check with the program head or contact the board for an examination packet or apply online.

Graduation from an approved nursing program. The program MUST be approved by the State Board of Nursing in the state where it is located. Licensee must have a valid Social Security Number. Licensee must have graduated from a high school or have obtained a GED.

The Iowa Board of Nursing requires the Application for licensure in Iowa by examination either completed online or by paper. Waiver form for criminal history background check, two (2) applicant fingerprint cards with all required boxes completed and total fee of $143.00 (personal check accepted) to the Iowa Board of Nursing or payment by credit card online. An official transcript denoting date of graduation and degree awarded MUST be submitted by the School of Nursing to the board office. Electronic or faxed transcripts are not acceptable for new licensure. 

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing requires registration online at  or by telephone 1.866.496.2539. 

Yes, just complete the information that was not provided and return all materials to the board office.

Once the Board office has received all required materials, you may expect it to take up to 3 to 5 weeks to receive your authorization to test during the peak examination period, May through August.  


No, you can apply for license by examination in only one state. 

If your NCLEX registration is incorrect, you MUST contact NCLEX Candidate Services at 1.866.496.2539 to correct the error. There will be a fee for this service. If you register with a Board of Nursing and need to change to a different state, you will need to contact that State Board of Nursing to receive their application information. Iowa does not issue a refund after the paperwork has been received and processed. 

By the email address provided.

Please notify the board office of the change by email to or fax the change to 515.281.4825 to the attention of the Examination Division. 

Take your marriage license to the test center with you if  the name on your photo ID is different than the name on your authorization to test. 

Only if you have graduated from an approved LPN Program. 


A valid picture identification in English that includes the applicant's signature in English. Types of appropriate identification are: U.S. issued Driver's License, Passport, U.S. State Identification (Department of Motor Vehicle issued), U.S. Military Identification. (ID MUST not be expired, grace periods are NOT recognized by the testing centers.)

Exam results are processed three times per week. If you took the examination without incident on a Monday, your results will be processed on Wednesday.

A packet providing all the information to reapply will be mailed to your address of record within two weeks of your test date. Test results will also be mailed with this packet.

You can reapply as soon as you receive the packet from the board office; however, your authorization to test will begin 45 calendar days from the date you last tested.

Yes, there are no time limitations from when you graduated nursing school.

The examination can be taken as many times as you like. Iowa has no limitations to the number of times a candidate tests.


No, you must apply to the board of nursing in your primary state of residence according to the nurse licensure compact agreement.


Check the National Council State Boards of Nursing website at

Your local sheriff's office, police station or any authorized fingerprinting center.

Usually, but check with the place where you are planning on being fingerprinted.