Washington RN License Renewal Guide: Step-by-Step Process and Requirements

Washington RN license renew

To practice without delays or further fees, you want to renew your Oregon Registered Nurse (RN) License on time, every time. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process and outline the requirements for renewing your Washington RN license. Whether you’re a seasoned nurse or a recent graduate, staying informed about the renewal process is essential to ensure you can continue practicing without interruption.

Understanding the Basics

Why is License Renewal Necessary?

Renewing your RN license is a mandatory process in Washington, as it helps ensure that all nurses continue to meet the state’s standards for safe and competent practice. By renewing your license, you demonstrate your commitment to maintaining your skills and knowledge, thereby providing quality care to patients.

How Often Should You Renew Your RN License?

In Washington, RN licenses must be renewed every two years. The renewal cycle begins on your birthday and ends two years later on your next birthday. To avoid any lapses in your practice, it’s crucial to keep track of your renewal deadline.

When Should You Start the Renewal Process?

You want to get a head start in your RN license renewal but you do not want to start things early. A nice middle ground is around one to two months before your license expires. This allows ample time for gathering required documentation, completing any necessary continuing education, and addressing any potential issues that may arise.

RN License Renewal Requirements

Continuing Education

One of the primary requirements for renewing your Washington RN license is completing continuing education (CE) hours. The Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC) mandates that RNs complete a minimum of 45 hours of CE during each renewal cycle.

These 45 hours must include:

  • A minimum of 15 hours in pharmacology.
  • At least 15 hours in clinical practice relevant to the nurse’s area of practice.
  • The remaining 15 hours can be in any nursing-related area.

Ensure that the CE courses you take are accredited by approved providers to meet the state’s requirements.

CPR Certification

Another essential requirement is maintaining a current CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) certification. Your CPR certification must be from an American Heart Association (AHA) or American Red Cross (ARC) approved provider. Make sure your certification remains valid throughout the renewal period.

Criminal Background Check

RN license renewal in Washington also requires you to disclose any criminal convictions or pending charges. The NCQAC will review this information to determine if your criminal history may impact your ability to practice safely. Be prepared to provide documentation and explanations if required.

Fees and Payment

There is a fee associated with renewing your RN license in Washington. Keep in mind that these fees are constantly changing, and can be modified at any given moment. You can check the current fee on the Washington State Department of Health website. Ensure you make the payment online, as this is the preferred method for license renewal.

The Renewal Process

Create an Online Account

To initiate the renewal process, you must have an online account with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). If you don’t already have one, visit the DOH website and follow the instructions to create your account.

Submit Your Renewal Application

Once you have an online account, log in and locate the RN license renewal application. Complete the application accurately, ensuring that all information matches your current status. Verify that your contact information is up-to-date, as the DOH will use this information for all communication regarding your renewal.

Pay the Renewal Fee

After submitting your application, you will be prompted to pay the renewal fee online. As mentioned earlier, the fee may have changed since my last knowledge update, so verify the current amount on the DOH website.

Complete the Continuing Education Requirements

Completing your Continuing Education requirements will not help you, if you do not present documented proof that you have done so. Keep records of your CE certificates, as you will need to upload them as part of your renewal application. Make sure that the CE courses you take meet the Washington State NCQAC’s criteria.

Background Check Disclosure

If you have any criminal convictions or pending charges, be prepared to disclose this information during the renewal process. The DOH will review your disclosure to determine if any further action is necessary.

Review and Confirmation

Review all the information you have provided, before you submit your application. You want to avoid any errors or omissions, as those can cause complications down the line. Once you’re satisfied with your application, submit it for processing.

After Renewal Submission

Application Processing Time

The processing time for your RN license renewal application may vary. It is recommended to submit your application well in advance of your license expiration date to allow ample time for processing.

License Status Verification

While your renewal application is being processed, you can check the status of your license on the DOH website. It’s crucial to ensure that your license remains in good standing during this period to continue practicing legally.

Renewal Approval

Once your renewal application is approved, you will receive a notification from the DOH. This notification may include a digital copy of your renewed RN license, which you can download and print for your records.

Lapsed License

If you fail to renew your RN license before the expiration date, your license will lapse. Practicing nursing with a lapsed license is illegal and can result in disciplinary actions. To reinstate your license after it has lapsed, you may need to follow additional steps and pay reinstatement fees.

Additional Tips and Information

Continuing Competency

Beyond meeting the minimum CE requirements, consider pursuing additional education and training to enhance your nursing skills and knowledge. Staying current with the latest developments in the field can benefit both your practice and your patients.

Save Documentation

In the future, your credentials may be subject to random audits or inquiries from the NCQAC. You want to keep copies of relevant documents, to expedite the process and make things easier for you.

Stay Informed

Nursing regulations and requirements may change over time, so it’s essential to stay informed about any updates. The Washington State DOH website is a reliable resource for the latest information regarding RN license renewal.


Renewing your Washington RN license is a vital part of maintaining your nursing career. By understanding the requirements and following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you can ensure a smooth renewal process and continue to provide high-quality care to your patients without interruption. Stay updated on the latest regulations and changes, to keep in mind for the upcoming renewal cycle. Your commitment to ongoing education and professional development will contribute to your success as a registered nurse in Washington.

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