Will Your License Transfer if You Move?

By Nancy Potter
[Government Relations]

Are you thinking of relocating to a new state? If so, it’s important to understand how a move could impact your
ability to practice your profession.

Therapists sometimes believe that when they move out of state, they’ll simply transfer their state massage license over to the new state. This is rarely the case, and, in fact, it is oftentimes quite difficult to obtain a massage therapy license in a new state, even if you’ve been licensed elsewhere for many years.  
If you are contemplating a move, it’s critical that you research the license reciprocity or “endorsement” rules in the new state before you move to be sure you can qualify for a license.
You may have to fulfill additional requirements in order to practice in that state, such as obtaining more hours of massage education or taking an exam, especially if you obtained your current license through grandfathering.

State by State
Some states, such as Colorado and Idaho, have relatively generous rules that allow most out-of-state licensees to qualify for a license fairly easily. Other states, such as Florida and New York, make obtaining a license by reciprocity difficult to impossible, with very high educational hours requirements or state-specific coursework and exams. Still other states, such as Hawaii and Ohio, do not allow therapists to apply based on reciprocity at all; every therapist wishing to practice in those states must go through the same initial licensure application process, even if they hold a license in another state.

Plan Ahead
Even if you have no immediate plans to move out of state, it’s important to have your professional documentation in order in case your plans change. In many cases, you’ll need to provide the new state with a formal transcript from your massage school, evidence that you’ve passed a national massage exam, and even a chronology of your professional massage experience. If you don’t have a copy of your transcript, request one from your school now, preferably stamped with a school seal, and keep it in your records. Then, if your massage school closes, at least you’ll have your own copy to send to a state board.

You should also keep your continuing education and massage employment records organized and in a safe place, along with a copy of the materials you submitted with your original license application and subsequent license renewals.  
Life is unpredictable, but a bit of organization and preparation now will pay off in fewer headaches if you find yourself en route to a new state sometime down the road.

Nancy Potter is ABMP’s government relations coordinator. Contact her at nancy@abmp.com.