Temporary Practice Permits for Secretary Authority Healthcare Professions

In response to the delays caused by national fingerprint-based background checks, the secretary has adopted permanent rules to allow the issuance of temporary practice permits to applicants for eligible secretary authority professions listed in RCW 18.130.040(2)(a). The permanent rules replace the emergency rules and took effect December 17, 2009.

The rules don't apply to applicants for professions regulated by boards or commissions. Some boards and commissions have exiting laws or rules regulating temporary practice permits. In addition, the rules don't apply to ocularists, respiratory care practitioners or dispensing optician practitioners. These professions have existing rules regulating temporary practice permits.

On January 1, 2009, the Washington State Department of Health began using national fingerprint-based background checks. The state legislature authorized these checks in 2008. At this time, fingerprints will be required from out-of-state applicants and some with a criminal history in Washington. Out-of-state applicants were chosen because they're unlikely to have criminal history information in the database maintained by Washington State Patrol.

While we must complete a state background check on all health profession applicants, most applicants will not undergo the national fingerprint-based background check. We will notify applicants who need to have this federal background check and provide detailed instructions. For these applicants, failure to submit fingerprints will delay processing their applications.

Applicants must pay $34.25 to have their fingerprints checked against the federal database. They must also arrange for and pay the cost of taking the fingerprints. Fingerprint services may be obtained at local law enforcement offices. Fingerprints must be taken on the fingerprint card the department provides.

Under the new rules, temporary practice permits may be issued to qualified applicants who must have a national background check. They must meet all other licensing requirements, have an active license without restrictions in another state and have no criminal history in Washington.

The temporary practice permit allows the person to practice the full scope of their profession for up to 180 days. There is no fee for this permit. For licensing information for your profession, please see the list of professions here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why has the Department of Health created a temporary practice permit?

We created the permit to allow a healthcare applicant to work while waiting for national fingerprint based background check results.

Who qualifies for a temporary practice permit?

All secretary-regulated professions except for dispensing opticians, dispensing optician apprentices, ocularists and respiratory care practitioners. Dispensing optician and apprentice rule prohibits the use of a temporary practice permit. Ocularists and respiratory care practitioners have their own rules and criteria.

Am I required to have a Washington criminal background check?


Am I required to have a national fingerprint based background (FBI) check?

State law allows the secretary to require a national finger-print based background check in certain circumstances (RCW 18.130.064). We'll notify you if a fingerprint check is required.

How do I receive a temporary practice permit?
  • Submit the necessary application, fee and documentation for the license. We require these items for licensure. We must receive them to issue the temporary permit.
  • Meet all the requirements for licensure. Licensing information for your profession is available on your profession's webpage.
  • Provide verification that you have an active, unrestricted license in the same profession from another state with substantially equivalent licensing standards as Washington.
  • Have no criminal history in the state of Washington.
  • When you return the fingerprint card, sign and submit the form provided by the department to request a temporary practice permit.
How do I know if my state is substantially equivalent to Washington State?

We'll determine this on a case-by-case basis. Licensing information for your profession is available on your profession's webpage.

What may I perform within my scope of practice?

A temporary practice permit grants you the full scope of practice for your profession.

How will I know when my temporary practice permit is approved and issued?

You may verify your status on our Provider Credential Search.

When does my temporary practice permit expire?

A temporary practice permit automatically expires 180 days after the temporary practice permit is issued, your license is granted, or a Notice of Decision on Application is mailed to you, unless the notice specifically extends the duration of the temporary practice permit.

What is a Notice of Decision on Application?

A Notice of Decision on Application is a letter to an applicant when the department denies the application or grants the credential with conditions. The notice has detailed instructions for the applicant. It explains what to do if the applicant wants to contest the department's decision.

Contact our Customer Service Office by email or phone at 360-236-4700 if you have any questions.