Different ways that states can honor another state's licenses (or not)

Editor's Note, September 2010: Laws and rules change. While the author sought to ensure accuracy at the time this article was published, it is incumbent upon the reader to verify any potential changes since then.IMPORTANT NOTE: This article is no longer being updated by the author and will become increasingly out-dated. The circumstances controlling which licenses a given state will honor, are governed by the laws of the various states, and can be broken down into five categories.NON-ACCEPTANCE:A state, by law, can not honor any license, or by choice chooses not to honor any license, from any other state. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin fall into this category.NAMED ACCEPTANCE:A state examines the licensing requirements of other states, and selects specific state licenses to honor, without requiring reciprocal acceptance from the other state. Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, and New Mexico are examples of states that employ this category of acceptance.UNQUALIFIED ACCEPTANCE:A state honors all licenses, from all other states, without condition, and without relying upon reciprocal acceptance from the other states. If you have any license, from any state, resident or non-resident, a state with unqualified acceptance will honor that license. Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah are examples of this type of acceptance.LIMITED RECIPROCITY:States that engage in reciprocity do so by comparing their own licensing requirements (training, etc.) with the requirements of other states. Where the laws of another state are “substantially similar”, the legally empowered authorities in each state (normally the Attorneys General) enter into a signed agreement, binding each state to honor the other's licenses/permits. However, in the case of limited reciprocity, limitations may be imposed by one or both states. An example is New Hampshire. New Hampshire law dictates that New Hampshire can only accept resident licenses from states with whom it has reciprocity. The other state is free to honor the New Hampshire non-resident license as long as that state's law allows. This creates a sort of lopsided reciprocity, where one state honors both resident and non-resident licenses from New Hampshire, but New Hampshire can only honor the resident license of the other state. Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and South Carolina are the other states that similarly limit reciprocity to resident licenses only. To balance things out, New Hampshire offers a Non-Resident Pistol/Revolver Permit of their own, available to residents of other states, which is valid within New Hampshire.On the other hand, North Dakota addresses this type of inequity by applying against the other state any restrictions the other state imposes against North Dakota. If North Dakota enters into reciprocity with a state that by law can not accept another state's non-resident license (such as New Hampshire), North Dakota will itself refuse to honor the non-resident license of the other state. In other words, not only will North Dakota reciprocate the validity of a license, they will also reciprocate the limitations against the validity of a license, as determined by the other state's laws. North Dakota will only honor the non-resident licenses of states with whom it has a signed reciprocity agreement, AND only if the other state will honor the North Dakota non-resident license. Quid pro quo.UNQUALIFIED (FULL) RECIPROCITY:As with limited reciprocity described above, states that engage in full reciprocity do so by comparing their own licensing requirements (training, etc.) with the requirements of other states. Where the laws of another state are "substantially similar," the legally empowered authorities in each state (normally the Attorneys General) enter into a signed agreement, binding each state to honor the other's licenses/permits. Numerous states employ this methodology. However, unlike limited reciprocity, limits against non-resident licenses do not apply. Both the resident and non-resident licenses of the reciprocating state, are treated the same.WARNING - AGE RESTRICTIONS MAY NULLIFY AN OTHERWISE VALID LICENSE:Although most states require that the licensee be at least 21 years of age, a few states will issue to those as young as 18. A state that requires a licensee to be at least 21 years of age will NOT accept the license of an 18 through 20 year old, issued by another state, even though the licensee is legal to carry in his or her home state. Acceptance of another state's license, between states with different age requirements, will be restricted to those licensees who are at least 21. (A state that requires it's own citizens to be 21 will NOT allow an "outsider" to carry at 18.)

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