Massage License Reciprocity

You have your massage license, and now you are moving to another state.

How do you obtain a new massage license in the state where you will be residing?

Will their massage board accept your school, your hours, or the licensing exam you took?

What about “Reciprocity”?

Reciprocity is a mutual exchange of privileges. An example of this is that the Board of Massage in the state you are moving to recognizes the validity of your current license, or the educational requirements/training in the state where you currently reside. Reciprocity allows massage therapists to obtain a new license and practice without a lot of extra paperwork, delays, and hassle.

But, reciprocity in the massage field is a little complicated.

The massage field has talked about license portability and reciprocity for years. But as of right now, no two state massage licensing regulations are identical. Most massage therapists have to navigate the licencing process in a new state, which is not always clear or without extra costs.

So, here are some tips to help make your career move less complicated.

Are you moving to Florida?

Click here. I will answer all of your questions about obtaining your Florida massage license, and then some.

I promise.

As for the rest of you.  What do you need to do?

If you can, start preparing early. Your current massage license will likely be of no use once you move. The process of transferring a license can take time. So plan on it taking a few weeks, to a few months to get your new license in hand. Most people cannot afford to be without work for a few months while they wait for their license to arrive.

The first thing to do is look at the Massage Board’s website where you are moving. Most do a good job of explaining what new licensees that are transferring licenses need to do. Some states do a less than decent job of explaining their process. You can always email or call the state boards to find out what needs to be done for someone in your position if the website is unclear.

Do I need to take the NCETMB or MBLEx again, or maybe for the first time?

Luckily, one time is usually enough. Now if you are moving to one of the few states that have their own exam (Hawaii), or only takes either the NCETMB (Connecticut) or MBLEx (Arkansas), then you may need to take the exam accepted in your new state.

Rarely you will have to complete a jurisprudence exam. This is a short exam about the massage laws in the state where you are moving. This test is nothing to lose any sleep over.

I have 500 hours of massage training, but the new state I am moving to requires 600-1000 hours. Do I need to go back to school?

It depends. Some states will accept your previous hands-on work experience. If you have been in practice since you graduated from massage school, those hours will often count towards the hours you are missing. However, this is not always the case. People transferring their licenses to Florida, need 500 hours. So, if you only have 300 hour and been in practice for years, you will need to return to school to make the remaining hours up.

Moving to an unregulated state?

Some of you may luck out. If you are moving to one of the few unregulated states, such as Minnesota, you will not need to obtain a license. But, do not forget to contact your local city/county governments. Some of these municipalities do regulate massage therapy within their jurisdictions.

If you have any questions about transferring your license, leave a comment below. I would be happy to help!



  1. Daniel says

    Hi, so I am currently a massage student in Virginia. I am not currently licensed but definetly intend on being within the next six months or so. My mother wants to move back to Texas as she is getting older and wants to be with family. The question is, how will the state of Texas receive my licensure from the state of Virginia? I don’t intend on moving for at least the next three years, so I still have time to gain more experience, as well as get my ducks & finances in a row to make my move & transition as smooth as possible. Any help &/or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • says

      Typically you would (a few months before you move) contact the Massage Board in VA and have them send proof of your current license to TX. Texas has a form on their application for you to give to the state of VA: VA will forward that (usually there is a small fee) to TX.

      You will also need to contact your school and have them send a transcript to TX as proof of your education.

      Texas does a fairly good job in their app of explaining what you need to do. They have a short, online jurisprudence exam which covers the massage laws of their state. It is easy (I have taken it) – so do not worry about that.

      Hope this helps! Good luck with your move!


  2. Cheryl Trojovsky says

    My question is this. I have my massage license in Washington State. I don’t necessarily want to move, but to travel thru Oregon and California. I would like to make massage money on the road. Will I need to get licensed for all three states? Can a person hold a license in more than one state? This is my first stop on this research, thought I’d stop and ask the question. Thank you for your time.

    • says

      HI Cheryl,

      You would need a license in all three states (well, California has a voluntary license – which I would suggest looking into getting). You can have licenses in multiple states, and should have one in any state you practice. I have both an Iowa license and Florida license. The trickiest part is keeping all of your renewal dates and requirements straight in your head.

  3. Shanna says

    Hi, so I’m one of the unlucky ones who are licensed in Hawaii but have now moved to virginia. What is the first thing I need to do to go about getting my Virginia license? Thank you for your help:)

  4. Beverly says

    Hello Ivy, I am writing to find out more about a reciprocity that I did a year ago to move from PA to Az and now I am moving back to PA. Do you know if my license in PA is still active? or what the best thing to do to obtain that license back? Thank you Bev

    • says

      You can call the board in PA or see if PA has an online database of active licensees. Typically the database will tell you when the person’s license expires. Best wishes on you move!

  5. Cheryl Crain Gentry says

    I have been a practicing massage therapist since 1972. When licensure became required in 2005 I obtained a license in KY. I am moving to Arizona which recognizes reciprocity. I submitted all necessary documentation. Today I received a notice that I must submit transcripts from the school in which I studied. I interned for 2 years with a therapist before starting my own practice. What is the next step I should take.


  6. Ashleigh says

    Aloha, I am curios on the transfer of Hawaii LMT to Colorado ? I have been licensed for 8 years.


    • says

      Hi Ashleigh,

      DORA is in charge of regulating massage therapy in Colorado. Look at their “endorsement checklist” (meaning HI endorses you as a massage therapist) and and application to get your license in Colorado.

      Does HI still have its own exam? If so you likely will need to take the MBLEx or NCETMB
      “In order to qualify to be licensed as a Massage Therapist in Colorado you must have
      completed an approved course that consists of at least 500 hours of course and clinical work AND passed
      either the Massage Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) OR the National Certification Examination for
      Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB/NCETM).”

      I would verify this with DORA. If you need help studying, I have a site to help people prepare for their licensing exam (

      Best wishes!

  7. Kiet says

    Hi Ivy,
    This is my question and dilemma. I am currently enrolled in distance learning at an institution in colorado( acredited and I reside in Louisiana). They offered 400 hours of academics online and 200 hours hands on at the institution which I plan on finishing the hands on there.
    I was planning to relocate to North Carolina. I read there statement of endorsement and requirements but there course curriculum stated 500 hours of supervise instructor training and it could take up to 6 months just for approval.
    My question am I misinterpreting the information set forth by the board? Could you explain to me what I need to do? I would want to be out of work waiting on an answer.

    • says

      Entry level correspondence training is the massage industry something that is very new. The number of states that allow people to use this type of training for obtaining a license is very low and really do not see it becoming widely accepted. Dealing directly with the board where you want to move is the best place to start. Ask if they allow this type of training or what exactly you need to do to get your training approved. It will not be easy, but it is what you will need to do to get your license.

  8. Mary says

    I am licensed in Missouri. I am moving to Wyoming, there is no license needed where I am moving. That is the easy part. I am double checking on local laws, but I am fairly sure there is none. But my question is, if I move back to Missouri in the future, what has happened to my status of being licensed?

    • says

      If you think you may move back, I would just keep up your CE requirements and license fees to remain licensed in MO. It will be far less of a hassle if you move back. You can be licensed in more than one state at the same time (I am). If you let your MO license lapse, you will need to reapply, show what you have been doing while not licensed, likely show proof of completing CE courses before having your license reactivated. Or if the laws change while you are not licensed (lets say they up the hours requirement) you would need to go back to school too. If you are not moving back (for sure) then let it expire. This is just my opinion ;). Best wishes.

  9. leann says

    Hi I’m thinking of moving from Colorado to Louisiana I am a RMT in CO I took the MBLEX, but I’m not understanding the regulations for Louisiana does it just transfer or do I have to do more testing?

  10. leann says

    Hi I’m thinking of moving from Colorado to Louisiana I am a RMT in CO I took the MBLEX, but I’m not understanding the regulations for Louisiana does it just transfer or do I have to do more testing?

  11. Diana M. Araiza says

    I currently hold my license in the state of Florida. I have been a therapist since 2004.
    I am considering moving either to Colorado or the state of Washington.
    could you tell me what I need to do in order to assure that I am “workable” in either of these states?
    I could deeply appreciate it.
    Thank you in advance,

    Diana M. Araiza, L.M.T.

  12. Derek says

    Perhaps you may be able to help me… I can’t find much information for the State of Hawaii. My spouse was a massage therapist in Pennsylvania (before licensing was required) and we recently moved to Hawaii. He’s currently in massage school in Hawaii (since know the education portion will not transfer), but do you know if his previous work experience as a massage therapist will satisfy the required 400-clinical hours?

    • says

      This is a great question.

      From what I understand a local law can make something illegal that the state says is okay. But a local govt can not make something that is illegal by state standards legal in their town. States typically have the upperhand and most power. They create the local cities and usually win out in a battle.

  13. Amber says

    I graduated in 2009 and obtained the NESL license before graduation. I never did get it converted. We are thinking about moving to Kansas City so now I’m wondering if I will need to retake the exam to work in MO. Last I heard KS didn’t require a license but I’m not too sure if that’s still the case.

    • says

      Kansas House Bill 2187 died in committee this year, so it is still up to local govt to regulate massage. You will need to contact them and ask what is required of you. As far as Missouri, they do not list the NESL as an accepted exam, but I would contact the Board and ask them if it is accepted before thinking about taking the MBLEx (the NCETMB, NCETM, and NESL are no longer offered).

  14. Delayne Kice says

    I am currently licensed in Oregon. I am moving to Washington in July, ochre than the aids course will there be any additional hurdles.

  15. Irma says

    Hi! I’m currently licensed in the state of California and planning to move to Hawaii, do you know the requirements to practice MT In Hawaii? Thanks!

    • says

      Hawaii has its own state licensing exam that you likely will need to complete. They also require 570 hours. I know these are for first time applicants. I would contact the Hawaiian Massage Board for exact directions according to your situation. California licensees have greatly varied educational backgrounds. Best of luck!

  16. George says

    My wife has a state of NJ license. Has not taken any Nat’l exams. Did 600 hrs of school and NJ state exam.
    Thinking of moving to SC or NC. Reciprocity?


    • says

      I would directly contact the state boards of each state and verify the exam is required for each state (I believe it is for both). If you have any questions about preparing for the MBLEx, I have another website for preparing for the exam. Many people that have been out of school for years have used it to prepare (

      Best wishes!

  17. Trish says

    Hi Ivy, I was a LMT in VA and passed the National Exam 6 years ago. My license lapsed as I wasn’t working as a LMT for the last 4 yrs(moved to a diff state). Now I live in CO and I am ready to be a therapist again. I can’t find what info I need to know before I call them..Any help is appreciated. Thx, Trish

    • says

      Hi Trish,
      You can call the VA board and ask your license dates and they likely have the information on your NCE exam. If not, call the NCBTMB and ask them about your exam date. They likely will have to send proof of your exam score to the CO board.

      While I am here, a short PSA, I always advise massage therapists to keep copies of all their important documents (transcripts, licenses, exam scores CEUs, for instances like this. My folder has helped me out many times.

  18. Bill Carter says

    I am licensed in SC and GA, took the mblex after completing 500 hrs. Can you advise me on reciprocity in ME and FL. Thanks

  19. steph says

    I’m in RI massage school and plan on practicing in MA. RI requires 500 hours (including 150 practicum) and MA requires 650 (100 practicum). The school provides 650 hours so that is fine but the practicum needs to be done is RI, can it be done in MA instead? MA doesn’t require MBLEX but RI does, if I take RI Mblex and decide to practice in RI or MA, will that be ok?
    Thank you in advance!

    • says

      It is likely up to your school what they would accept for your practicum. I do not think it would need to be state specific, but that is a school decision. The MBLEx is all about mobility and the exam is not state specific, so you can take it anywhere and choose where you want your scores sent to.

  20. James says

    Hello Ivy. Hopefully you can assist me. I am currently a therapist in New York considering moving to Washington State. Our education requirements are 1000 hours and I have been a therapist for five years. I have worked in highend hotels for the past 3 years. Recently I was sent to Thailand for training in Thai massage and I am New York State CPR and First Aide certified. I’m hoping that based upon my education and work experience that moving won’t be too much of an issue. Could you see any roadblocks? Please help me solidify this exciting decision with some of your guidance and knowledge so that I may plan accordingly. Many positives and blessings


    • says

      Hi James,
      The best advice is to contact the Wash State Board of Massage and explain you situation and training. I believe an board examination (may need the MBLEx since NYS has own exam) and a few state required courses may be required, but that is it.

  21. lily duan says

    I have a GA massage license. I will move to VA I have to transfer my license to VA I want to check weather the school I had studied is approved by VA. I called and didn’t get exactly answer. would you tell me how would I do right now. I appreciate your help.


    • says

      Schools are generally approved if they are approved by the Board in your current state. Out of state schools are not generally “approved” by an out of state Board. Boards rely on the other state boards to approve the schools. I assume the requirements for schools in VA is similar to the ones in GA. The VA Massage division is under the Nursing Board, which is unique, but I have not heard of any specific problems with the application process there.

  22. Christne says

    Hi Ivy I am a licensed therpist in Pennsylvania but just moved to Illinois ( military move) but will eventually move back to Pa in a few years. My question is, if I take CEU’s for my new license in the state of Illinois, will they count towards my license in the state of Pa? the requirements are the same 24 CEU for the 2 years

    • says

      If you CE provider is approved in both states, then most likely. I use my Iowa hours for my Florida license renewal and vice vera. I just make sure they meet the criteria in each state before I sign up for them. I also try to make sure I schedule them correctly. My Iowa and FL licenses renew in the same year, within a couple months of each other.

  23. Toni says

    I am currently licensed in the state of Ohio. I have been a massage therapist for 9 years and have over 750 credit hours. I am not nationally certified. I am moving to GA and I saw that you have to be nationally licensed. Do I have to take that exam? I was kind of hoping I would be grandfathered in since I’ve been in the field for so long and have well over 500 credit hours. I’ve called the goergia board and they seem to not really answer my questions or are unsure. Also, on their application there is a question asking if I was a massage therapist during a “grandfathering” period? And I’m not really sure if I was.


    • says

      Hi Toni,
      You likely took the old Ohio exam. You were not grandfathered. That means that you got your license during a time where a state was transitioning to licensing LMTS. This happens when people are practicing massage in states without licenses. Then the states starts licensing. Grandfathering allows those people without a formal education to get a license for a certain amount of time.

      The real question would be if they accept that exam for GA licensure. I looked at their website. Under endorsements (which you are) it says, Applicant must meet licensure requirements of their current state, indicating on the application they have successfully passed a Board recognized approved National Examination and completed a minimum of 500 hours from a massage therapy program.” This means to me that you may need to take the MBLEx. GA accepts the MBLEx and NCETMB (though it is no longer given). I would first find out if your Ohio exam would be accepted, if not, I would think the MBLEx would be what you need to do to get your license.

  24. Iliana says

    I live in Texas and want to move to Indiana but IN’s website on licensing doesn’t explain anything about how to transfer or pay for a liscence there. So how do I do this and what is the cost? Thank you so much ms ivy

  25. Brittani Johnson says

    Hey Ivy!

    I went to MT school in FL at an accredited NCBTMB assigned school and graduated with 550 hours in Aug 2014. Two weeks after, we moved to GA, where I took and passed my NCBTMB test. I then applied to GA Secretary of State to receive a GA MT license. –I did not apply/hold for a license in FL or anywhere else–
    It has been almost a year and I am still awaiting my license. They’ve told me I didnt meet the hour requirements, that my school didn’t have an active NCBTMB provider number (even though it did), I’ve had to turn in an affidavit so The Board could speak with my MT program director (which they did not do)…all sorts of issues.
    Since then, several people in my class have become FL LMTs, so I know my school meets FL requirements at least.
    My question is, how does the GA LMT hour requirements compare with FL LMT curriculum hour requirements?
    Is there anything I can do?
    I’ve been told by GA Board that I can’t apply for a FL LMT license until granted the GA LMT license.
    It seems The GA LMT Board is confused about how my transcript translates. But I can’t possibly be the first MT to transfer from FL to GA.
    The GA LMT Board meets Aug 28 to rule on my application, and I’ve been told if they decline my application this time, they will close my file.
    Any advice is greatly appreciated!


    • says

      I have not heard of anyone having too many problems with the GA Board. Rarely do people transferring from a FL school have many problems obtaining a license in another state. Florida has quite a few more regulations than other states, so usually it is just a matter of applying and sending your transcript.

      I wish I had pieces of advice for you, but I do not. It seems like you have done everything I would do. The FL requirements breakdown like this:
      The courses and the number of hours required in each subject are as follows:
      Anatomy and Physiology – 150
      Basic Massage Theory and History – 100
      Clinical Practicum – 125
      Allied Modalities – 76
      Business – 15
      Theory and Practice of Hydrotherapy – 15
      Florida Laws and Rules – 10
      (Chapters 456 and 480, F.S. and Chapter 64B7, F.A.C.)
      Professional Ethics – 4
      HIV/AIDS Education – 3
      Medical Errors – 2

      Rule 345-8-.01 Curriculum Requirements
      In order to be a Georgia Board recognized massage therapy education program, the program must have a minimum curriculum of five-hundred (500) total clock hours of supervised classroom and supervised hands-on instruction. For purposes of this rule, “supervised” means the supervisor is physically on-site, qualified and immediately available. The minimum required subject matter and activities and the minimum required hours are as follows:

      Here are Georgia’s:

      (a) A minimum of one hundred twenty-five (125) hours of in-class supervised instruction in human anatomy, physiology and kinesiology;
      (b) A minimum of forty (40) hours of in-class supervised instruction in pathology;
      (c) A minimum of two-hundred hours (200) in massage therapy theory, technique and practice, which must include in-class supervised instruction of clinical techniques and hands-on clinical practice and must include, at a minimum, the following subject matters: effleurage/gliding; petrissage/kneading; compression; friction, tapotement/percussion; vibration; direct pressure; superficial warming techniques; pumping; stretching; jostling; shaking; rocking;
      (d) A minimum of one hundred twenty-five (125) hours of in-class supervised instruction in contraindications, benefits, universal precautions, body mechanics, massage history, client data collection, documentation, and legalities of massage, professional standards including draping and modesty, therapeutic relationships and communications;
      (e) A minimum of ten (10) hours of in-class supervised instruction in ethics and business (to include a minimum of six (6) hours in ethics); and
      (f) Of the five hundred (500) total clock hours, the curriculum must include a minimum of fifty (50) hours in supervised student clinical practice, but no more than sixty (60) hours in hands on supervised student clinical practice. Nothing in this rule shall be construed to prohibit a massage therapy school that has a curriculum greater than five hundred (500) hours from having more hands on supervised student clinical practice so long as it has at least four hundred and forty (440) hours of in-class supervised instruction.

      They are different, but generally endorsement candidates that come from a school that is approved in their state are accepted.

      Please let me know how things go.

      • Brittani says

        Hey Ivy!
        Thanks for your reply to my post!
        The GA LMT Board has officially denied my application and closed my file. They once again stated that my school didn’t have an active NCBTMB provider number. The first time they cited this error, I immediately called my school’s program director and he assured me it was an active NCBTMB provider number. The school did switch to being mBlex accredited and did not reapply for NCBTMB accreditation, but that wasn’t until Aug 2015.
        My school program director even sent the Board proof that it was NCBTMB approved at the time of my GA LMT application (Sept 2014). I found my school on FL’s list of accredited schools and even sent the link to the Board.

        Is there a difference in being an NCBTMB approved school and having an active NCBTMB school provider number?

        Does the school have to stay NCBTMB approved for months after a license application?
        It seems like I’m being penalized because the Board took so long to rule on my application. I don’t really want to take legal action, but I don’t feel like this was done correctly.
        Should I look into taking legal action?

        I think I can take the mBlex and apply and hopefully not have any issues, but that’s almost $400 at my cost because of the Board and that’s money I don’t have to waste on another year of waiting on the Board.
        I just feel stuck and any help would be greatly appreciated.

        Thanks for your time and advice!!

        • says

          I know many schools that have gone out of business (and obviously would not be NCB schools any longer) and have issued transcripts that have allowed people to get licenses in other states. I do not have any legal advice (since I am not a lawyer), but the issue does not seem to be with your NCETMB exam scores, Did you pass the NCETM exam? If so, I do not know if taking the MBLEx would really be that beneficial. It may be worth your time to talk to a lawyer. Then can read the Laws and Rules of the state and give you your options.

  26. Melissa says


    I’ve been trying to get repository from my Ohio licence to a Georgia license, it has been nothing but tears, lost appetites, and headaches.
    I’ve been a licensed massage therapist since January 2010, moved to BE 32nd of May. My application started in July, and have been going back and forth… And just recently found up the hold up was that I never took MBLex. I took the test in December 2009 when it was still State Ohio Medical Board test… Which Georgia keeps saying they do not accept…

    Ohio state board have been wonderful answering my questions, calming me down on the phone, but in the end… Cannot do anything on their end to get Georgia to change their mind… I find it obscenely unfair of them to not be making an exception for a therapist of 5 years with a clean background check, good test scores, letter of recommendation, etc over something I had no control of.

    Paying nearly 200 for the MBLEX isn’t appealing to me, and GA keeps threatening to dismiss my case, which I will loose out on the application fee…. Not sure how much Nation test is, I’ve been trying to talk with MBLEX about some sort of transfer fee special case for my situation.

    • says

      I think Ohio switched to the MBLEx shortly after you got your license. I know many others that have been in your situation and unfortunately I would not expect the Board of massage to budge on this one. I know they will likely lose a good massage therapist, but I understand that massage boards cannot make exceptions for everyone. Our profession is working towards better mobility (with creation of the MBLEx and minimum education standards), but unfortunately we are not there yet.

  27. Lisa says

    So here is a good one for you. I am trying to move from Flodida to Washington. I complete a state approved apprenticeship program in Florida in 2006 and have been practicing ever since. Washington will not recognize my license because it was not obtained via an approved school. I passed the same exam as everyone else who has a Florida license, but no matter. I spoke to a “massage specialist” at the doh in WA, and was told to look for an approved school on their website and contact them about a transfer program. There is one school in the whole state of Florida listed. So I called them. They told me they cannot ethically transfer my liscense since I did not attend their school. When I inquired about enrolling in their school, I was told I could not enroll because I already had a license!! Catch 22, anyone??? Basically, ” you cannot get there from here”.

    I will be calling WA again to inform them of my progress ( or lack thereof!) and ask for guidance. Right now, the only option I see is to attend school all over again in WA. This is crazy, expensive, and prohibitive since where I am trying to move is at least 2 hours away from any school at all.

    Ivy, are you a magician? Can you help me out here?

    • says


      I really do not know what to say about this situation. It is tough! I know I have helped many people get their Florida licenses. Lots of people from Texas have only 300 hours and have to go back to school to complete the other 200 hours and their exam. I know they lose some very good therapists with these kinds of rules.

      I would suggest finding someone at the Washington board that can give you some advice. They have to have someone in your situation before and should help give you options for your next steps.

      Sorry about not being a magician. I am a muggle.

      I truly wish you the best and wish I had better ideas for you!

  28. Callie says

    Hi I’m planning on moving from Texas to Massachusetts in the next year and I’m trying to find some information on requirements for transferring. Texas required 500 But also offered a 570 hr course, which I completed. I passed the mblex and have been licensed for 3 yrs now. MA requires 650 hrs but I can’t find anything about whether or not MA will accept my years of work as the extra hrs. Thanks for any help!

    • says

      I would suggest calling their board office and asking them. I looked at their site and it was pretty basic information. They should be able to give you a better answer over the phone. Good luck!

  29. Lindsay says

    Hi Ivey,

    I’m licensed in MO and have been since 2009. I took the mBlex and have over 1000 hours plus CE hours. I moved to OH in 2011 and have been working at a spa up here ever since. I have an interview tomorrow for another spot but I’m wondering if it’s going to be a problem if I’m holding a MO license? My current place of employment has no issues with it and the owner herself is practicing with a NY license. Is this all legal?

    • says

      As long as you have a valid license in the state you’re working in there should be no problem. It is perfectly legal to have more than one state license. I have an Iowa license and a Florida license. Just comply with state laws that your working in. Best of luck with the new job!!

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