Help! My Nursing License Expired!

Nursing license expired

You woke up at 3 a.m. this morning to the terrible realization that you missed a critical deadline: you forgot to finish renewing your nursing license. Did you complete all your CE? Did you remember to pay the fee? Can you even go in to work today? 

If you’ve found yourself in this position and your nursing license expired, you’re not the first and certainly won’t be the last nurse to make this mistake. Don’t panic! Despite reminder letters and emails from the trusty state boards of nursing, life sometimes gets a little too busy and even the most important things slip through the cracks. The bottom line is you need to get your license up to date ASAP, and here’s where to start. 

I Missed the Deadline…..Now What?

An expired license can be treated in several ways, and your recourse for renewal or reinstatement depends entirely on the rules defined by your respective state boards of nursing. Step #1 is to get online immediately and look over exactly what your jurisdiction’s policies are, the path they provide for resolution, and whether or not you can continue practicing in the meantime. 

Here are a few examples of what you can expect depending on your state. Just as the continuing education requirements and timelines for license renewal vary by state, the language, penalties, and processes for an unrenewed license also vary widely.


  • If you miss the renewal deadline in Florida, your license will be moved to delinquent status. You will need to complete your CE hours as well as pay a delinquent renewal fee. Fees vary depending on whether your current license holds active, inactive, or retired status. You CANNOT practice. 
  • If you have been delinquent for over 120 days from the date you received notification, you must pay increased fees and fulfill all your CE requirements.  
  • If you have missed an entire renewal cycle, your license immediately becomes null and void and you will have to begin the licensing process from the beginning. 


  • If you miss the renewal deadline, your license will be delinquent and you CANNOT practice nursing until you resolve the issue. If your license is delinquent for less than 90 days you must provide evidence of 20 hours of acceptable CE within the last 2 years and pay a $60 late fee plus the $68 renewal fee. If longer than 90 days, the late fee doubles to $120.
  • If you are not actively practicing and you fail to renew your license, your license becomes inactive and you CANNOT practice. If your license has been inactive for less than four years you must complete 20 hours of acceptable CE and pay a $10 reinstatement fee plus the $68 renewal fee. If it’s been more than 4 years the reinstatement fee doubles to $20. You will also be required to take a refresher course, complete the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence exam, and submit a reactivation application. 


  • If you miss Kentucky’s licensing deadline, you will be required to apply for reinstatement and you CANNOT practice. There is NO grace period—your nursing license expired and you need to renew.
  • You will be required to meet all initial licensing requirements to be reinstated, including a federal background check, submit proof of national certification, and pay a $135 non-refundable fee. 
  • Kentucky has a tiered system of CE requirements that vary depending on how long it has been since your license lapsed. You can find the chart here to determine your status. 

Again, it is extremely important to understand your state’s guidelines. What a word like “pending” means in one jurisdiction or another can be the difference between legally practicing in your state and being criminally liable for practicing without a license. Read carefully!

What Happens if I Keep Practicing with a Lapsed Nursing License?

Unless you have confirmed that your state has identified a grace period after your nursing license expires, DO NOT attempt to work. Practicing as a nurse without a valid license is a serious offense, and it’s often accompanied by criminal penalties that can bring your career as a nurse to an embarrassing end.


  • It is a felony both to practice without a valid license, as well as attempt to practice without a license. You cannot apply for jobs or participate in nursing in any way, and penalties vary depending on your behavior.
  • If no serious bodily injury occurs you have committed a third-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • If serious bodily injury occurs while you are practicing without a license, charges are upgraded to a second-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The offense also carries a mandatory sentence of at least 1 year in jail.


  • If your nursing license expired in Texas but you still went to work, the Board of Nursing will immediately begin disciplinary action that could include fines, suspension, or revocation. 
  • Texas law makes it illegal to refer to yourself as a nurse if you do not hold a valid nursing license. Additional criminal charges may apply, including fraud and care-related harms. 


  • Practicing without a license in Kentucky may result in the Kentucky Board of Nursing suspending your license or revoking it permanently, and imposing civil penalties of up to $10,000 depending on why your nursing license expired.  
  • Criminal charges may apply depending on the nature of the violation. 

Get All the CE You Need for Renewal with Premiere—Even in a Pinch!

Unless you’ve made the conscious decision to let your nursing license lapse in a specific state, maintaining an active license is an ongoing professional responsibility that takes time, effort, and dedication. Fortunately, even if your nursing license expired and you need to act quickly, with the enhancements to online renewal and tracking platforms you can typically complete the process from the comfort of your own home! The most complicated part is staying on top of your required education, and for that, Premiere has you covered.

With incredible online learning opportunities created by our industry experts, Premiere’s continuing education packages for most state’s nursing requirements and our Unlimited Nursing CEU Subscription make it easier than ever to maintain your license and deliver the best care possible to your patients. With a variety of state-approved educational programs, you can engage in stress-free learning opportunities to enhance and maintain your practice. 

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