Interstate Licensure Compact

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an interstate licensure compact?

An interstate compact is a legal contract between two or more states/territories enabling practitioners (in this case, social workers) to practice in each other’s jurisdiction, once practitioners demonstrate they meet the compact requirements.

What are the advantages of the social work compact?

The compact eliminates barriers to practice and increases access to care (especially in areas that are underserved, geographically isolated or lack specialty care) by increasing the efficiency of becoming licensed across state/territory lines. Currently, social workers must seek a separate license in each state/territory in which they wish to practice, which can be labor- and time-intensive. A compact creates a more efficient processing system, while also protecting public safety. Other benefits include:

  • Facilitating interstate/territory telemental health
  • Improving continuity of care when clients travel or relocate
  • Encouraging cooperation among compact member states/territories in regulating the practice of social work
  • Preserving and strengthening state licensure systems

How is information shared between states/territories regarding practitioners?

States/territories participating in the compact will use a shared data system which will enable them to verify instantaneously that social workers have met the requirements to practice under the compact and are in good standing with other state/territorial regulatory boards.

Are all occupational licensure compacts the same?

Not exactly, but most are similar in form and function. There are two types of occupational licensure compacts – the expedited licensure model and the mutual recognition model. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is the only expedited licensure compact. The remaining licensure compacts utilize the mutual recognition model, in which a practitioner’s home state license is “mutually recognized” by other compact member states.

Will the compact change state occupational practice acts or scopes of practice?

No. These do not change as a result the states joining a compact.

How do states join compacts?

State legislatures must enact compact legislation to become a member state of a compact.

What steps are needed before the compact is operational?

A threshold number of states, typically, seven to 10 states, must pass the enabling legislation. These states then would form a compact Commission which will govern the compact and ensure coordination between the participating states. Once the threshold number of states have passed the legislation and the Commission is in place, social workers would be able to pursue licensure through the compact, in the participating states. Additional states are added to the compact as they enact the required legislation and join the Commission.

How can social workers get involved in this initiative?

NASW will be providing numerous opportunities for members to advance this important effort. This includes the opportunity to provide input on the draft compact, and to engage in advocacy efforts through their NASW state/territorial chapters to enact compact legislation.