How do I get my RN license

"You can't always choose the circumstances. How you deal with them, yes."

In order to be allowed to practice as a registered nurse (RN) in the USA, one needs a so-called "license" of the respective state in which the profession is to be practiced.


The award of a "license" can be tied to different requirements from state to state, but the standard is always proof of passed NCLEX exam, which is carried out by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. This is a kind of state examination after completing training as a nurse.

In order to be admitted to the NCLEX exam, you must first check whether the candidates have successfully completed their training to become a nurse. Foreign training courses always have to be evaluated. Many states require foreign nurses to be certified through the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools evaluation agency, or CGFNS for short. Without this certification, the NCLEX is not recognized in most (see below, second text) states.


To issue the certification, the agency CGFNS evaluates the training, ensures sufficient knowledge of English and holds a preliminary examination.

Proof of sufficient English skills is provided by a language test recognized by CGFNS. This could be the TOEFL, for example, but a number of other language tests are equally accepted, which one can best be read at CGFNS.

So it's not just one, but several exams that have to be taken. The order is summarized as follows:

  • 1) Obtain a time sheet from the nursing school (see Formsm and Fees below)
  • 2) Registration with CGFNS
  • 3) Completion of a language test e.g. TOEFL (in many German cities, e.g. Frankfurt and USA) Danger! Only valid for 6-24 months depending on who is relocating it. CGFNS, a college, or a hospital
  • 4) Completion of the CGFNS exam (e.g. Frankfurt or USA)
  • 5) Completion of the NCLEX (possible for Europeans in London U.K. or then in the USA)

Information on www.CGFNS.org

!! The most important thing before you sign up:

On the website www.cgfns.com

* "Forms and fees"

* "Applications"

Here you can download information brochures about CGFNS

e.g. Credentials Evaluation Service Instructions and other forms

e.g. Certification Program Instructions and other forms

* "Forms" (forms)

Request for Academic Records / Transcriptsshape

This form must be completed by your vocational school. If you no longer have any documents about the hours you have worked, you can also distribute the hours from the care law to the areas. The Nursing Act stipulates how many hours of theory and practice must be spent in order to be admitted to the German nursing examination.

Request for Validation of License / Registration / Diplomashape

This form must be completed and sent by the next higher state authority. (For me it was the health department)

You should only register with CGFNS if you have prepared everything well, again everything has a deadline. Please read it yourself. I try to make my information thorough and understandable, but in the future I will not check every 6 months whether what I have written here is still up to date.

The information here is for guidance only.

Each U.S. state nursing board has different requirements. There are some states that do NOT require CGFNS at all. For the most updated information, please contact the nursing board of the state in which you are interested and confirm any information and verify most recent changes and requirements.

States not requiring CGFNS®
Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina

States requiring CGFNS® if English is not the primary language:
Arkansas, Nevada

States requiring CGFNS®
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York , North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Updated July 2009

Current information can be obtained directly from any nursing board in the state you want to go to.

Helpful websites:

www.cgfns.org Training Recognition

www.ncsbn.org American Nursing Exam

www.ets.org recognized language test TOEFL

www.educationusa.de (text source for the upper part of the text)

www.nursetogether.com (text source for "List of States and CGFNS Requirements")

All information given here is for information purposes only and does not claim to be complete.

June 2014