Reciprocity: Transferring Your CNA License to Another State

When you want to be a Certified Nursing Assistant, you are required to take a state accredited examination. If you could pass this examination, that is the only time that you could able to receive your certificate. You could then work in any healthcare setting that you want, be it in a hospital, hospice care, or healthcare facility. However, you need to remember that you could work in any place as long as it is within the state that you have applied for. You cannot work for any state that you want unless you have taken their examination. This is because each state has their own rules and regulations regarding the examination that they would give. This is where they would base if you are qualified to be included on their own roll or not.

However, if you are in the process of transferring to another state and you want to be able to work there as a certified nursing assistant, you still can. That is, after you meet whatever the state required. This is called Reciprocity.

What is it then?

Reciprocity is a process where you request the state where you are transferring to accept the approval that your former state has grant you. This is for you to be able to practice your course on your new state once they would be able to recognize the certificate that you are holding. How to apply in another state, you may ask? You may start by asking your Nurse Aide Registry on your former state and request an application for enrollment by reciprocity. You should not forget to ask them also if you would send it back to them and they would be the one to send it to your new state or you would be the one to do it. After that, you also call and inquire the Nurse Aide Registry of your new state and ask if they required that you personally send the application or if it needs to pass your former Nurse Aide Registry first. They may ask you also to send some credentials such as a copy of your Social Security Card, driver’s license, your former state approval, documents that state that you have worked in nursing homes or the likes in the past two years, and other relevant documents that the new state requires. This is where they would base if they would accept your application.

Here’s what the booklet says if you’re transferring to California.

Reciprocity Applicants

With implementation of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) for nurse assistant training requirements in April 1992, California was instructed by the Health Care Financing Administration to offer nurse assistant certification to anyone who is listed on any state’s nurse assistant registry as:

  • In “good standing” (having no findings of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of residents’ property) and
  • “Active” (maintained on the State Nurse Assistant Registry as having met the OBRA training requirements and having provided nursing services at least one day, for pay, in the previous 24 months).

Reciprocity applicants, who have been verified by the prospective employer with the respective state’s registry (see page 20) as meeting federal requirements in the United States, should submit the following to ATCS:

  • A completed HS-283B application form (;
  • A copy of their state-issued certificate (this is not mandatory but they must indicate the state in which they are certified);
  • Proof they have worked providing nursing services at least one day for pay in the last two years (this is only required if they received their certificate more than two years ago);
  • A copy of the completed BCII 8016 live scan form, (see page 19). You must wait until you move to California to obtain fingerprints through this method. Fingerprint cards are not acceptable.

Reciprocity applicants may work as CNAs (unless they receive a letter of denial from ATCS) if the facility:

  • Has verified the applicant is on the respective state’s registry in good standing and has active status. Some states do not provide information regarding “status.” In those states, as long as the name is listed, the CNA is considered “active.”
  • Has proof that the applicant has worked at least one day for pay providing nursing services in the last 24 months.
  • Has proof that the CNA has applied to ATCS for certification.

Reciprocity applicants may notwork as CNAs if:

  • They do not have “active” status on their respective states’ registries and are unable to get their certificates or registry status reactivated in their previous state.
  • Their certificates or registry status have been expired or inactive for less than two years. These applicants may be allowed to take the competency evaluation in California without having to retrain by following the “equivalency applicant” instructions on page 6. (After these applicants have passed the competency evaluation, they may work unless they receive a denial letter from ATCS.)
  • Their certificates or registry status have been inactive for more than two years in their respective states. These applicants must retrain and successfully complete the competency evaluation to receive a California nurse assistant certificate. (After these applicants have passed the competency evaluation, they may work pending receipt of a certificate or denial letter.)

Through the process of reciprocity, you could expand all your possibility and be able to work in another state of your choice.

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