For dentists moving states, license by credential will become a very familiar term. With this process, dentists can obtain the credentials they need to start practicing in their new locale. While it is not available everywhere, it's an incredibly valuable resource for dentists who want to expand their horizons.

For dentists moving states, license by credential will become a very familiar term
For dentists moving states, license by credential will become a very familiar term.

What is License by Credential?

License by credential is a term you come across when you start researching how to transfer a dental license across state lines. While every state has the right to govern its own professional licensure process, it is recognized that these regulations can sometimes delay progress.

To streamline things, license by credential allows individuals to use their prior skills and experience to qualify for a professional license, without the need to take an exam. There are three major benefits to this.


Streamlined Process

Expanded Access

Professional Mobility

Unlike traditional routes that may require re-taking exams, license by credential recognizes a dentist's existing expertise, simplifying the journey to practice in a new state.

License by credential opens doors to expanded access for individuals needing dental treatment, as it makes it easier for dentists to move to underserved areas.

For dentists seeking new opportunities or responding to changes in personal or professional life, license by credential enhances professional mobility.


To qualify for this in most states, dentists will have to meet a minimum active practice requirement and have a license in good standing. They will also have to submit an application to the proper state authority.

What is the Dental License Transfer Process Like?

Every state will have its own licensure process where dental professionals will be expected to submit their current license and degree information. They will also likely be required to submit continuing education information. Each state has its own requirements, so you should carefully research your prospective state's dental board website. You can find a comprehensive list of dental boards here.

Once your application is submitted, it will kick off the following process.

  1. Credential verification: Your file will be assigned to a professional who will verify all the information you submitted is correct and accurate.

  2. National Practitioner Data Bank query: The board may query the NPDB to determine if there are any actions against your license that were not recorded in your state file. This will help them locate any disciplinary or legal issues.

  3. Review: The board will evaluate the materials, checking if the requirements are met or taking further action if they are not.

  4. Interview or exam: In some cases, the board may request an in-person review or exam. This is more common in instances where something came up in the credential check, though many states interview all license by credential candidates.

  5. Compliance notification: The board will notify you of any additional requirements to obtain your license, like if you are missing CE hours or need to provide additional evidence.

  6. Approval: You will receive a license to practice dentistry in your new state.

Times for license by credential vary widely by state. Some states complete this process in a matter of days or weeks. Others may take a while longer. The state board will give you an estimate of approval time when you submit your initial application. There are some things that you can also do to help speed the process along.

Tips to Streamline Your Application

Research and preparation are key if you want to accelerate your license approval process. Get extremely familiar with your state’s licensing requirements to avoid any unexpected delays. There are also a few other things that you can do to prepare.

Digitize Your Documents

Cultivate a digital dossier early in the process. Instead of relying solely on physical copies, maintain a well-organized digital file of essential documents. Whether you graduated recently or two decades ago, this digital approach ensures easy access and eliminates the hassle of searching for misplaced paperwork. Plus, as many states now use digital application processes, you will be one step ahead for submitting documents online.

Here are a few different documents you should consider adding to your digital library:

  • Educational transcripts

  • Proof of current dental license

  • Continuing education records

  • Professional experience documentation

  • National Practitioner Data Bank information

  • Professional references or letters of recommendation

  • Background check authorization

  • Malpractice insurance documentation

  • CPR certification

  • State-specific exam results (if applicable)

  • Health statement or medical clearance

  • Declaration of intent to practice

  • Proof of citizenship or legal residency

  • Professional development plans

  • Proof of specialty certification

  • Evidence of ethics exam completion

  • Any state-specific forms or declarations

Diversify Your CE Approach

One big mistake that many dental professionals make with CE is to treat it as a checkbox on a form. They see that their CE credits are coming due and complete them as quickly as possible to get them out of the way.

That defeats CE’s entire purpose. In addition, not all states recognize the same types of courses. Instead, consider taking a multi-faceted approach to CE requirements. Embrace a variety of methods, including remote learning and in-person courses. This diversified strategy not only meets your credit obligations but also caters to different learning preferences, making the transition to a new state more adaptable and efficient.

Immerse Yourself in the Dental Community

Beyond paperwork and credentials, invest time in getting acquainted with your new dental community. Attend local dental events, join professional organizations, and engage with fellow practitioners. Building connections within the community not only fosters professional growth but also provides valuable insights into the local dental landscape, making your transition more enriching.

For a seamless license transfer, research license by credential early on in the moving process
For a seamless license transfer, research license by credential early on in the moving process.

License by credential is a great resource for dentists who want to expand their horizons, but it is not always straightforward. When you are considering moving your practice to another state, it should be one of the first things that you research. That way, you'll be prepared to navigate your license transfer seamlessly and start enjoying your new community.