Licensure is required for nursing practice in Iowa as identified in Iowa Code sections 147.2 and 152.6. This ensures that licensees are compliant with regulations. The board issues licenses by endorsement and examination.

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Qualifications for Licensure in Iowa:

  • Graduation from a board-approved RN or LPN nursing program.
  • Passing the NCLEX examination as prescribed by the board.

Note: The Board must review any past felony convictions or prior disciplinary actions. Criminal histories do not automatically prohibit applicants from getting licensed in Iowa. For more information, visit our Criminal Conviction Eligibility page.

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Nurses Educated in a Foreign Country

If you graduated from a nursing program in another country, you qualify as a foreign educated nurse. If you graduated from a nursing program in the U.S. and live abroad, this does not apply.

Qualifications for Foreign Educated Nurses

1. Applicants must have one or both of the following:

  • graduated from a nursing program as documented by CGFNS
  • held similar licensure in another state as documented by CGFNS

2. Board approval of an applicant with a criminal history or a record of prior disciplinary action. See our Criminal Conviction Eligibility page for more information.

3. Passing the NCLEX examination as outlined on the Licensure by Exam page.

For questions, please email us at:

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Military Licensure Information

A military service applicant may apply for credit for verified military education, training or service toward any experience or educational requirement for licensure. The Iowa Board of Nursing considers following comparable to LPN/VN programs:

  • The Army LPN Program
  • The Air Force BMTCP 4N051 (5 Skill Level)  

Veterans may request a military service application form by email.

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Military Service Application Instructions

  1. Submit the military service application with your licensure application. You may also send your military service application before applying for licensure. You do not need to pay a fee when submitting an application for military service credit.
  2. Identify the experience or educational background that applies to the licensure requirements. Credit does not apply to examination requirements.
  3. Provide documents of relevant military education, including:
    1. Military transcripts
    2. A certified affidavit
    3. Forms that verify completion of the relevant education, training, or service, including:
      1. Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214)
      2. Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) (DD Form 2586).
    4. Provide as much documentation as you are able to ensure timely processing.​

  4. Once the completed military service application is received, the board will determine eligibility. The Board evaluates the verified military education, training, or service. All or some of your experience or education may qualify for licensure.
  5. The board will send a detailed letter to the military service applicant once reviewed. The letter will explain if credit is granted, or what is needed to complete the requirements.
  6. The applicant may request reconsideration by providing additional documentation or information. 


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Iowa Nurse Assistance Program

Information about the Iowa Nurse Assistance Program (INAP) is available here.

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