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

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