How Does Reciprocity Work?


Overview: How does reciprocity work?

In the United States, teachers are licensed through the state, and each state has their own requirements for earning a teaching license or certification. In order to teach in a specific state, you must have a license issued by that state. When educators relocate to a new state, they must obtain a license in their new home state. Reciprocity agreements between states allow teachers to transfer their licenses more easily. Teaching reciprocity is an agreement between states to accept out-of-state teaching licenses or to apply out-of-state qualifications towards an in-state teaching license application. In short, it helps teachers be able to transfer their teaching licensing from state to state.

You can see your state’s reciprocity rules here.

How Does Reciprocity Work?

It’s fairly common that teachers who complete their education or start their career in one state will eventually need to teach in a new state. If you are transferring to a new state, you should check your state’s requirements for reciprocity to avoid having to repeat certain licensing processes. 

However, reciprocity does not automatically mean that you can teach in any state. In some cases, your license will be directly transferable. In other cases, you may be able to use your prior certifications, experience, and subject assessments to apply for your licensing in a new state without having to repeat the process of re-acquiring them. 

How Do I Transfer My License to a New State?

First, you need to see your state’s requirements for reciprocity. Once you’ve done that you should collect the necessary professional documents–for example, your teaching certification, any subject matter assessments, proof of employment or a letter of recommendation from your most recent school.

Once you have collected the necessary paperwork based on your state, you should submit it to the local licensing entity. It’s important to note that only government entities have the ability to grant a teaching license. While an educational program should supply you with the appropriate tools to be eligible for a license, you will have to go through the government entity to actually be issued your license. It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months for states to process license applications, so it’s wise to start planning as soon as you know you are relocating.

Reciprocity and TEACH-NOW

Some states approve specific education preparation pathways while other states accept alternative certification programs without providing specific approval. If you live in a state that does not accept alternative certification pathways like TEACH-NOW, you may still be able to obtain a teaching license through a reciprocity pathway. Many graduates of the TEACH-NOW online certification preparation program obtain a license in their home state through reciprocity agreements. Each state has their own guidelines, so it’s best to do your research to find the best pathway for you or find a program like TEACH-NOW that can support you throughout the certification process. 

Learn more about the path to teacher certification reciprocity and master’s degree reciprocity.

Where are you on your path to teacher certification?

Whether you are pursuing a teaching license in the United States or internationally, we can help. Explore our flagship online teacher certification preparation program to get you prepared to apply for a U.S. state teaching license in as fast as 12 months.


To issue a formal teaching qualification, most countries require a baccalaureate degree, a teacher preparation program, demonstration of subject knowledge, and a clinical teaching experience.

Baccalaureate Degree

Teacher Preparation Program

Subject Knowledge

Clinical Practice

Teacher Certification

online teaching preparation programs in the united states

United States

There are 51 states (including the District of Columbia) the offer teaching creditials in the United States. TEACH-NOW Teacher Preparation Certificate Program is approved in three states: DC, AZ and WV.

51 States Have Specific
Certification Requirements

Accredited Approved Certificate
Preparation Provider in
DC, AZ, and WV

Teacher Certification
in 3 States

Reciprocity Agreements Among
Most States + Recognition by
Most Countries

Additional Reading