Comparing Military Fee Waivers for Licensed Occupations

Comparing Military Fee Waivers for Licensed Occupations

Military service members, their spouses, and veterans, are among those disproportionately impacted by occupational licensure policy.  With frequent interstate relocations and a propensity for employment in licensed occupations, this population is particularly affected by licensure fees, which must be paid to keep a license active or upon each relocation to a new state.

The adverse impact is exacerbated by the potential for required licensure in multiple states over a career in a licensed occupation. Even if states offer less restrictive license portability policies or expedited licensure, fees remain a barrier.

In response, states have made strides to address fees, with 22 states implementing some form of occupational license fee waiver for the population group. However, the policies include certain differences in design and features.

Covered Applicant Type (Active Duty Military Members, Veterans, Military Spouses)

  • Seven states waive fees either for active duty members and veterans.
  • Seven states waive fees for active duty members, their spouses, and those with past military service.
  • Five states waive fees only for active duty members and their spouses.
  • Three states waive solely one applicant type.

Current or Relocating Residents

  • Thirteen states have some form of waiver for current residents and those relocating to the state.
  • Seven states’ fee waivers cover only current residents.
  • Texas and Arkansas cover only military members and spouses in the process of relocating to their states.

Initial and Renewal Fees

  • Eleven states’ fee waivers cover both the initial and renewal fees.
  • Six states cover renewal fees or prevent fees from expiration. In the case of Georgia, this is more specific, with the waiver covering renewal fees if the license lapses while the individual is serving out of state.
  • Five state policies cover only the initial licensing fees.

Additional Approaches

Beyond the trends outlined above, there are unique policies that provide supplemental support to military members, their spouses, and/or veterans:

  • In Oregon, the statute establishes a veteran’s assistance emergency fund that can be used for a variety of needs including emergency housing and food, employment assistance, and professional licensing costs. This fund can be utilized by those with past military service and some Oregon National Guard members.
  • In Virginia, a state with a large military presence, the statutory solution is to prevent any expiration (and therefore reinstatement costs) of licenses during any period of service. This applies to the spouse of the service member as well, as long as the spouse accompanies the service member outside the United States.
  • In some states, the fee waiver statute focuses on specific occupations with beneficiaries including teachers in Ohio and lawyers, healthcare professionals, and realtors in Nebraska.

Federal Policies

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 allows each service branch to reimburse spouses up to $1,000 for state re-licensure and certification costs resulting from relocations or permanent change of station, including moves stateside from outside the contiguous United States.

Licensing Fee Waiver Policy Comparison Chart

Below is the summarized data of state military fee waiver policies

  • The Active, Spouse, and Veteran columns represent which subsets of the military population are covered by the waiver in that state.
  • The Waiver Type column describes whether the waiver covers relocating residents, current residents, or both.
  • The Initial and Renewal columns indicate whether the waiver covers the initial licensure fees or the fees for a license renewal.
  • The Covered Occupations column describes what licensed occupations or licensing departments are covered by the waiver. 
StateActiveVeteranSpouseWaiver TypeInitialRenewalCovered OccupationsLink
ArkansasYesYesYesRelocatingYesYesAll17.1.106
ColoradoNoNoYesAllYesYesAll12.20.202
ConnecticutYesNoNoAllYesYesAll27-102a
FloridaYesYesYesAllYesYesFlorida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Occupations32.455.02
GeorgiaNoYesNoCurrent3NoYesAllGA SOS
IdahoYesNoNoCurrentNoYesAll67-260A
KentuckyYesNoNoCurrentNoYesAll12.355
MichiganYesYesNoCurrentYesYesAllMI LARA
MinnesotaYesYesNoAllYesYesAll362.55
MissouriYesYesYesAllYesNoAll324.015
NebraskaYesYesYesAllYesYesNebraska Department of Health and Social Services, Occupations, Lawyers, Realtors, TeachersNE VA
North CarolinaYesYesYesAllYesNoAll93B-15.1
North DakotaYesNoYesCurrentNoYesAll43-51-11.1
OhioYesNoYesAllYesYesTeachersOH DOE
OklahomaYesNoYesAllYesNoAllSB 670
OregonYesYes2NoCurrent3NoYesAll408.45
South DakotaYesYesYesAllYesYesAll36-1-1
TexasYesYesYesRelocatingYesNoAll2.55.009
UtahYesNoYesAllYesYesUtah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Occupations58.1.301
VirginiaYesNoYesAllNoYesAll54.1-117
West VirginiaYesNoNoAllYesYesAll30.18.1
WisconsinYes1NoYesCurrentYesNoAllWI Act 209
1 Waiver covers National Guard and Reserve service members.
2 Statute establishes an emergency fund to assist veterans in covering licensing fees.
3 Waiver covers licenses that expired while serving out of state.