How Massage License Reciprocity or Massage License Transfer Works

How Massage License Reciprocity or Massage License Transfer Works in the United States, massage therapy is regulated on the state and local level.

This means that if you are already a licensed massage therapist in one state and arm moving to another state.

So you will have to obtain a massage license from their state board in order to practice in that state.

In some states, you can get licensed by reciprocity, endorsement or credentials.

What is Reciprocity?

Reciprocity, endorsement and credential licensure all mean that the state to which you are applying provides some recognition of your current licensure.

You will find that this means very different things depending on which state you are applying to.

In most cases, reciprocity only allows if you license in a state which has substantially equivalent license requirements as the state you are moving to.

Most states currently require 500 hours of training at a state-approved massage school.

As well as passing a national qualifying exam, such as the MBLex.

States without State Licenses

Wyoming, Vermont, Minnesota, Kansas, California

In states without a state licensing board.

You will not have to get a state license.

However, there may be city or county requirements to be able to practice massage.

You will have to check local laws to know what qualifications and/or documentation is required.

States without Reciprocity

Utah, Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Iowa, Hawaii, Connecticut, Arkansas

Some states, such as South Dakota, Maryland, Hawaii and Oklahoma.

Do not have a specific reciprocity or endorsement license.

If you have met their requirements for licensure you can apply.

Regardless of what state you obtained your training in.

Therefore, in states such as South Dakota, you can use the same application form whether you are a recent graduate or an established therapist.

You just have to show that you have completed those requirements.

In these states, when a national exam require.

There is no recourse for a therapist who license in a state that did not require a national test at the time of licensure.

You would have to take the MBLEx to get licensed there.

Hawaii currently has its own state test that you must pass.

How Massage License Reciprocity or Massage License Transfer Works

Some states, such as Iowa, Connecticut and Maine.

Do not have a reciprocity license but do require you to provide information on the status of your current license.

In addition to all the other information on the application.

Other states, such as Arkansas, Texas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Utah, do not have any reciprocity licenses.

You must meet the current requirements of the state to apply for a license.

Because these states specify not only the number of hours of education.

But also how those hours must distribute among different topics.

If you got your education from an out of state school.

You will have to show that your hours of training meet their laws.

This may require you submit a transcript, your school catalogue, or a form certified by your school showing the coursework.

If your school transcript does not meet their requirements.

You may require attending an in-state school for a number of hours before being granted a license.

In some cases, Arkansas may allow you to appeal to their board for licensure if you cannot produce all the documentation required.

States with Reciprocity

Wisconsin, West Virginia, Washington, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Ohio, North Dakota, North Carolina, New York.

And also, New Mexico, New Jersey, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Mississippi, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, Colorado, Arizona, Alaska, Alabama

A number of states allow you to apply for licensure by endorsement or reciprocity.

If you currently license in a state with substantially equivalent requirements.

However, their application process requires you to provide all the same documentation as a new in-state applicant.

As well as verification of your current licensure from the state you currently license in.

They may also require you to take an in-state law exam or continuing education related to state laws and rules.

Mississippi, Alabama, Montana, Illinois, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Nevada, Missouri, Indiana and New Mexico are included in this group.

States like New York and Nebraska require 1000 hours of training rather than the 500 required by most other states.

In some cases, under certain conditions.

If you apply for a license in these states.

They will allow you to substitute continuing education hours or experience for some of the training.

MIST – How Massage License Reciprocity or Massage License Transfer Works

You may find licensure by endorsement in these states complicated.

Because they have a number of options and conditions to meet.

Similarly, states like Kentucky that require 600 hours may allow you to appeal to their state board for a hearing to determine if your education and experience consider adequate.

States such as Louisiana, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Washington, Virginia, New Jersey and Alaska may exempt you from providing a school transcript.

And also, national exam results if you have a license from a state that they consider to have substantially equivalent requirements.

Similarly, Arizona does not require test results or transcripts if you have licensed for at least 5 years by a state with substantially equivalent requirements.

Michigan and Ohio do not require a school transcript if you have licensed and practising in another state for at least 5 years.

Delaware license

Delaware will not require a school transcript if you have licensed and practising in another jurisdiction with substantially equivalent requirements during the two years prior to applying for a Delaware license.

Florida requires a school transcript but doesn’t require you to provide test results if you had to pass a national test to get your current license.

Colorado requires that you be actively practising for the 2 years before applying, or have 24 continuing education hours.

If you are looking to get a reciprocal license in Tennessee, you have two options.

You must either provide proof of education and testing OR provide verification of licensure and active practice in another state for the five years preceding your application.

Similarly, in Oregon you can apply using the same form as an initial applicant OR (for an extra cost) have a credentialing review if you have been practising for many years in another state and may not meet the traditional educational requirements.

In North Carolina, you can choose to apply as an initial applicant.

Apply for endorsement based on licensure in a previous state or based on credentials if you worked in a state without licenses.

How Long Does it Take for Reciprocity to Process?

Because the laws and rules in each state are different.

And because obtaining a massage therapy license in a new state may require additional documentation or even a hearing before the state board.

You should plan as far as possible in advance when moving from state to state as a massage therapist.

In addition to license information, test results and school transcripts.

You will often have to get a background check from the state you are moving to.

Which may take weeks or months.

Even after all the required information is received, a state board may take anywhere from 7 days to more than 3 months to approve your license and allow you to begin working in that state as a licensed massage therapist.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

81 comments on “How Massage License Reciprocity or Massage License Transfer Works
  1. Have had courses in nursing anaomony phy medial termonogly bonesture and massage therpy for pain relief is their not a test with all cretits i have that will let me take test in south carolina where i had all these courses

  2. Dana swanson says:

    I am currently licensed in Hawaii… wanted to transfer license to Arizona ..what are my requirements..??

  3. Deborah King says:

    Currently I’m graduating (December 2017) taking the board exam in January for Nys licensing. I’m moving to Tx next year and I want to get my tx license but I want to be a dual licensing massage therapist. I do not want to give up my nys license. What is the best way to do this?

  4. Victoria Sileo says:

    I am am a LMT 12 years in SC with a BS degree and A practical nursing degree. I am also a license esthetician for two years. I will be relocating to Indiana PA in 6 months and would like to continue working in the massage and esthetic fields. What are the steps to do do?

  5. Temeka Gilmore says:

    I visit Georgia frequently and I am a licensed massage therapist in KY. Do I have to be a resident to obtain a license in GA via reciprocity? If I have an extended visit, I would like to be able to practice in GA.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Temeka, have you discussed this with the GA state board? If so please let us know the feedback. Normally you have to submit proof of residency for a license, but you can be licensed in both states!

  6. Maria Platania says:

    Dear Sir or Madame:
    I am writing this email to request some information on how I can convert Italian Massage Therapy titles into USA Massage Therapy titles. After that, in accordance to the State requirements I would like to apply for a Massage Therapy license. In addition, I would like to request websites if recommended.
    Thank you for your consideration in these matters.

  7. JD Lamar says:

    I am on the board of a non profit which sole reason to exist is to help facilitate a yearly week to 10 day silent meditation retreat in Virginia. People from around the country participate. We sit long hours and get sore and achey.It has been a long standing practice to allow any one who would like to provide body work to do so. For the people who are willing to provide massage and are licensed in their state, but not Virginia, do they need to be licensed, or is there some way that they can provide services without doing so. The retreat is on private property. The practitioner sets their own fees, and frequently does so for donations only.
    Thank you

    • Neal Lyons says:

      technically you need a valid license to practice in an area where massage therapy is regulated, especially if you are in business or advertise publicly, or have business cards that are “public facing” in nature. that said, many practitioners exist that do not have licenses who practice in various ways in various places.

  8. Pearl Bentum says:

    Good morning
    I just took my board exam 3 days ago and passed
    For the state of Virginia I’m trying to figure out how I can also obtain both a license in Maryland and dc in addition to my Virginia license so I can practice in all 3 areas
    Any advice?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Pearl – you just have to apply to each state separately and fulfill each state’s requirements. you will have to pay separate fees and fulfill CE requirements for all states

  9. Amy Jones says:

    I am currently working full time as an Occupational Therapist in Texas. I would like to become a Licensed Massage Therapist, as well. But, being a single mom, I really need online classes. Texas does not allow coursework to come from online courses. Would I be able to get licensed in a different state from online courses, and then transfer my licenses to Texas? Do most states require you to show proof of residency to get your license there, though?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Amy, that is a creative idea that we have seen work in some states. Each state has a different list of requirements when assessing for reciprocity. What we would suggest is call TX ahead of time and ask whether they’d be open to this type of an arrangement. Yes, most states require residency to issue a license. You can also only (legally) practice in the state you are licensed in.

  10. Michael Bruscoe says:

    I am currently in school going to graduate in August 2018, want to move to AZ ASAP, obviously I wont be licensed by the state of Washington for 5 years before I want to leave, so what are my requirements to be licensed in AZ after I finish school in Washington.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Michael, have you read our page on AZ certification requirements? If not please do. If yes, please let us know specifically where you need further clarification. Thank you

  11. Chris says:

    What is the penalty for performing massage in a private home for people without a state license.
    Are there really people concerned with what we do in the privacy of our own home, especially as there are openly advertising prostitutes and they seem. To stay in business.. And I am simply trying to make an honest Living, after losing my job, to jeep my roof over my head temporarily.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Chris – best to comply with rules and the law. Usually most states have a no license no pay rule in the event anyone disputes. Not sure what legal repercussions you can face if you do what you suggest

      • Megan says:

        If you’re practicing and taking payment without a license, you risk losing the opportunity to even get your license.

  12. D. Dunn says:

    I am currently licensed in Texas, for going on three years. I would like to be licensed in California, New York and the DMV area. I have spread out and would like to be able to support myself where ever i am. My challenge is that I did not graduate but I did get all my credits for classes. The program i attended was unorganized and misplaced a lot of my paperwork delaying when I could apply of my license, so once I reached the state requirement I applied without graduating. Basically I did not make up the hours they lost on record. Not sure how to move forward or if it does not matter. I have a transcript with over 500 hours of classes.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      this is a challenge. you will need some proof of completed course work. maybe contact the school and have them write a letter attesting to your previous coursework? are we interpreting your question correctly?

  13. Lilly says:

    How do you know if a school you are looking at is truly accredited? I am highly debating on attending the Costa Rico School of Massage Therapy, but want to make sure I am going to be able to take the MBLEx exam here in Minnesota. Knowing I will be able to become a massage therapist once my schooling there is complete.I am having a hard time figuring out how this all works. They say they get you ready to take the MBLEx and they are NCBTMB certified? With that will I be able to come back to Minnesota after the schooling and take the test and become a massage therapist?
    Have any of you heard good or bad info on the school? I just want to make sure I’m making the right decision.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Lilly, check the local government / start board website find out the official status. ask the school as well. you will need reciprocity if you want to transfer. please read our article on license reciprocity

  14. Amber says:

    I am visiting missiouri for the summers and want to practice while I’m there. I dont want to transfer liscense because I will not be living there. I’m from texas. Can I be liscensed in two states at the same time?

  15. dan fox says:

    I took the state test in Texas 24 years ago I do 6 hrs of CE every year now moving to Tennessee I would like your in put on moving my license THX Dan LMT

    • Neal Lyons says:

      what specific input Dan? if you are looking to transfer it you can contact the state board to understand the requirements or read it on our website. simply follow those instructions.

  16. Jim Dolan says:

    Mr. Lyons,

    My wife applied for a Massage Therapist license in TN; she has been a licensed therapist in Florida for 3 years. She has sent her transcripts, taken the required TN courses and done everything asked of her but it has been 10 months since she started the process and she still cannot get an answer on her application. We sold our home in FL and even bought a house in Knoxville, TN but my wife is still in FL since she can’t even get an answer about her license. There is one person at the TN Massage Licensure Board that she has constantly be in contact with but she cannot or will not give my wife any answers as to why her application has been either approved or denied.
    My question is – do you have any advice on who to contact regarding this issue? It has been months since she was told everything was good yet constant calls and emails produce no answer.

    Thank you for your time and any advice would be greatly appreciated.



    • Neal Lyons says:

      this is very strange. if the office is nearby simply drive down. if not, try involving a lobbying body or a large organization like AMTA. they may be able to help through their network connections

  17. Rebecca lasater says:

    So I’m a therapist that was licensed in az but do to unforseen life issues I moved back to co. Currently im not licensed here in co what can I do???

  18. H Marty says:

    Neal, I was certified in GA in 1995, there was no such thing as licensure. I never took the MBLEX. In 2005, GA unfortunately passed licensure and I was grandfathered in and obtained my license. My license in GA is current. However I have moved to Alabama and was told that there is no reciprocity for me since I have not taken the MBLEX. Is that correct? Really isn’t fair and I think I’m just going to retire.

    Thanking you in advance,

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Marty – it is possible as the MBLEX and licensing process was a large change across the industry. you may have to take it. the other option is continue practicing under the grandfather clause in your current jurisdiction in GA

  19. Carole king says:

    Licensed Fl. Since 1991 still in compliance with Fl dept health. Want to license in Ky what are the rules for reciprocity ?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      every state is different Carole – pull up the requirements for KY and see if you have the credentials from FL that you can transfer. did you contact the state board in KY?

  20. Michel Mejia Diaz says:

    I’m a massage therapist for over 10 years in Florida but I moved to California.. i want to move my license but I hear that the California board it’s really slow.. can you give me a relatable website or phone number for accurate information and you know if I have to take any test. Thanks

  21. Alicia Russell says:

    I am currently a licensed massage therapist in Michigan. I was grandfathered in from taking the state exam. I want to keep my Michigan license. I am wanting to do massages in Indiana … will I have to take a state exam to obtain a license in Indiana?

    If so, would that exam be MBLEx?

    Thank you

    • Neal Lyons says:

      not necessarily. the reciprocity rules vary by state. you will have to check with IN what they’re requirements are. they will map your MI credentials to the IN requirements and let you know what gaps need to be filled

  22. Alicia says:

    Thank you for getting back with me. I will be checking in on that.

  23. Owen R McDonald says:

    My daughter is about to start her last quarter in massage therapy. She is under the impression she will only be able to practice in the State of Florida unless she goes back to a school in the new state she chooses to go to and restart the entire process of school again. If she takes the License exam in Florida, will she be able to get a license in Tennessee without having to restart the entire process over? Or through Reciprocity, will she be able to apply for a license in her new state of choosing and then only make up whatever differences in licensing programs between the two states.

    Thank you,


  24. gloria says:

    i am trying to find the details but i have read that NJ will allow you to practice with a PA license but you are limited toile 30 hours per year wondering how to access that info!

  25. Kristen Nicole Petrie says:

    Hi, I am moving to Nevada from Oregon. Do you have a heads up on what I can expect to get a Nevada liscense? Thank you so much!

  26. Blake says:

    Hi – my wife is licensed in Arizona, however we plan on moving to Oregon in the next three years after our kids start college and she’d like to transfer her license. It sounds like reciprocity for Oregon is very limited; does she still have an opportunity to transfer her license with an exam? Thanks so much.

  27. Michael says:

    I am a LMT in Texas and was curious if you had any information on how to get licensed internationally? It’s a dream of mine to be able to travel the world and perform massage.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Michael, have you read our article on attending international schools and obtaining intl licenses? generally, we are not aware of a general certification that is valid around the world. there are however international certification programs you can look into. use our site to search schools and ask them whether they offer this

  28. I would like to obtain an Indiana LMT license , I have a Florida LMT license that just lapsed a few months ago. I have been an LMT since 1996. What is the procedure that I will have to go through to obtain Indiana license.


  29. JMS says:

    I am currently licensed in Texas and previously in Illinois. I’m looking to practice in New York. I took the MBLEX 2 years ago. What requirements do I need because I have been practicing for over 20 years and the course hours regulations have increased.

  30. Cecily Gardner says:

    I’m a massage therapist in California and have been in practice just under 9 yrs and I’m wanting to move to Colorado how does that work? I read above but still didn’t quit understand it

    • Neal Lyons says:

      read our article on CO requirements. then contact the CO state board and get a list of the requirements. you will have to meet them and then fill out the reciprocity application. let us know where you are now with the process?

  31. Kelli says:

    Aloha i am planning on living in hawaii & arizona back n forth.. i have been a LMT In Hawaii for 25 yrs.. i would like to also practice in Az at a spa when im there. Would i beable to keep 2 licenses in 2 states at the same time.. i do not want to give up my Hawaii lisc..??

  32. Evelyn Daitchman says:

    I received my massage therapy license from New York state after attending the Swedish Inst. in Nork City in 1998. I had already been practicing massage therapy for 16 years. I would like to have the license transferred or have reciprocity given to me. Is there someone I may speak with to help me understand the process I need to practice legally here in Chicago?
    Thank You in Advance for Any Help<

    • Neal Lyons says:

      Evelyn, our articles are quite comprehensive. start there. next, contact the state board where you want reciprocity. you will find their info on our website as well

  33. Nelson says:

    Hey Neal,
    I am have been an active LMT in FL since 2006, and is trying to transfer to NV through reprocity. I tried getting more info at

    Do I still have to go through the application process and pay the application, background check, and fingerprint fees? Or is there another efficient way to obtain reprocity?


    • Neal Lyons says:

      Nelson, reciprocity applications involve a fee. what you don’t have to pay is the schooling costs since you have already done that. but all states have application and licensing fees. what are you finding in your research?

  34. Ashley says:

    I am a LMT in TX for the last 3 yrs. When I did my schooling, I was in TN. but got kicked out of where I was living after I took the MBLEX. I am planning on moving back to TN and want to continue my work as a LMT. I have my transcripts, MBLEX pass, and I believe I have a copy of the jurisprudence pass. My TX license is due for renewal in 2020. What do I need to do to transfer my license, and how much does it cost?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      you have to contact the specific state and get a list of the items you need to check off to get reciprocity. seems like you already have a lot of the requirements met. read our article on requirements in TX so you can see the details.

  35. Jenna says:

    I’m still in school but can never seem to find solid answers.
    If an entertainer wants you to travel with them on tours as their personal LMT is that possible?
    What licensing is needed for cruise ships?
    If I know that I tend to move states often, is the Mblex or Ncetmb a better choice?

    • Neal Lyons says:

      yes to question one. a regular license in your home state is the answer to question two. for question three, the exam you have to take is one that your licensing state prescribes for you. please read the requirements in the state you live in and want to practice in. we have articles for every state on our website

  36. Laura Gluberman says:

    If I take my new Jersey massage license and do a endorsement or reciprocal to any state.Do I still need to take the MBLEX or state exam? I know some state dont expect the Mblex because that state has it’s own exam!

  37. afcroz says:

    Im moving from south carolina to oregon. I am still in school but will be graduating in 4 weeks. I will have 630 hours when I graduate. I know Oregon requires 500 hours and I will be taking the MBLEX here before I move to get licensed. How hard is it to transfer my license to Oregon? And how long does it take to transfer it?

  38. yolanda bolding says:

    Hi where can I find the regulations for South Carolina reciprocity I moved here from North Carolina and I need to know where to begin I’ve been licensed for 2 kids I have an llc if that changes anything on my approach to the reciprocity rules thank you

  39. Izac says:

    What if I’m only visiting another state like Iowa and Virginia and want to practice massage for just a few days? I’m currently licensed in GA and TN.

  40. Kate P says:

    I graduated from a massage school in GA in 98 with a certification. At the time there was no state massage license, only a business license. I was also nationally certified for 4 years following. I now live in CT and would like to get my license here and don’t know if i need to start all over again or how to figure out what i need to do. the man i talked from the state board of health was not helpful at all. Can you help?

  41. Amara Irizarry says:

    I am currently certified in California, where we are not required to take the MBLEX. I have been working as an MT for 5+ years. I will be moving to Colorado in a couple months and while they do require the MBLEX, can I just transfer through licensure of endorsement since I have every other qualification met?

  42. Laura Siegel says:

    I have had my 500 hours completed, been working for the last 2 years as a massage therapist. I am currently visiting in Arizona looking to add another 125 hours at a community collage so that we may move to Oregon. Will all these hours transfer to that state, do I need specific hours to make this happen? Thank you

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