April 26, 2022

Survey measures effectiveness of universal licensing recognition laws

Universal licensing survey

Licensing Agencies Share the Positives and Negatives of Universal Licensing

A survey of state licensing boards with universal licensing recognition policies (sometimes called licensing reciprocity) indicated that 55% agree or strongly agree with the statement that universal recognition policy positively contributed to their state’s workforce. The Council of State Governments sent the 2021 Survey of Universal License Recognition Laws to state licensing boards and/or departments of professional licensing in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Montana and Pennsylvania; the report shares responses to survey questions—the benefits and the concerns—along with the lessons learned.

What is Universal License Recognition?

When a state offers Universal License Recognition (ULR), the state establishes a uniform process to recognize professional licenses issued by another state. A licensee that moves to a state with universal licensing recognition, for example, oftentimes must meet certain requirements in that new state, like residency and background checks. Between 2018 and October 2021, 18 states implemented ULR policies.

Benefits of Universal License Recognition

The survey revealed a variety of benefits of universal license recognition; these benefits included:

  • Reduces barriers to licensure for new residents, including veterans and military spouses
  • Helps fill the gaps in a labor shortage
  • Increases the mobility of licensed out-of-state health care professionals—as seen during the pandemic

Concerns of Universal License Recognition

Besides benefits, the survey revealed the concerns of licensing agencies related to universal license recognition; these concerns included:

  • Makes applying for a new license more challenging and/or confusing for those moving into a state
  • Licenses out of state applicants with fewer requirements than those in state
  • Requires licensing boards to overhaul websites to increase web traffic from out-of-state practitioners.

Lessons Learned

Universal licensing recognition helps reduce barriers to licensure for out of state professionals already licensed in another state. Ways to reduce implementation challenges include clearer language regarding the licensing requirements for those moving into a new state, along with digitized licensing systems; the report cited Vermont’s success with online licensing. Vermont’s online system decreased the time required for licensing with a process that originally took two or three weeks to a process that now takes two days or as little as 45 minutes if the applicant has an active license in another state.

For more information about survey results, read the report, 2021 Survey of Universal License Recognition Laws from the National Center for Interstate Compacts Occupational Licensure Project


The Council of State Governments

According to their website: Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments is the nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.

Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation

According to their website: CLEAR promotes regulatory excellence through conferences, educational programs, webinars, seminars and symposia. The organization provides networking opportunities, publications, and research services for those involved with, or affected by, professional and occupational regulation.

2021 Survey of Universal License Recognition Laws from the National Center for Interstate Compacts Occupational Licensure Project

Interview with Adam Diersing, policy analyst for the Center of Innovation with the Council of State Governments—the organization that performed the survey; the interview took place on the CLEAR podcast episode: CSG Survey of Universal Licensing Recognition Laws, April 12, 2022.


Learn more

GL Solutions helps governments run, grow and adapt. Learn more on our website.



Related content