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South Dakota Cosmetology Commission - Menu

South Dakota Cosmetology Commission

Reciprocity Licensing (for Applicants Licensed Out-of-State)

South Dakota Requirements


Temporary License

Getting Your South Dakota License


To become a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician or nail technician in South Dakota through reciprocity, you must already have a current license from another state, and your out-of-state license must have equal or greater requirements compared to those of South Dakota.

If you do not have a current license, then you should apply as a out-of-state student.

South Dakota Reciprocity Requirements


Education Hours

These hours must be certified by your previous state. If you do not meet the required hours, see Work Experience below.

Cosmetologist - 1,500 education hours

Esthetician - 600 education hours

Nail technician - 400 education hours

Work Experience

These hours may be added to the education hours (reciprocity only) if you do not meet the required education hours. Two hours of work experience equals one hour of education. For example, if you worked for 2000 hours, you can count 1000 hours, which is the maximum you can apply toward your cosmetologist education hours.

If your work hours date from more than five years before your South Dakota application date, you must take a safety/sanitation course from the Commission.

Maximum Computed Work Hours

Cosmetologist - up to 1,000 hours

Esthetician - up to 350 hours

Nail technician - up to 200 hours

Current License from Another State

You must have a current license in another state to become licensed in South Dakota through reciprocity.

Age of 18 Years or Older

You need a copy of your birth certificate, a naturalization record or a U.S. government photo identification.

A High School Education or GED

You need a copy of any one of the following items:

  • High school diploma
  • High school transcript
  • GED
  • If your high school education was completed in another country, you will need your education translated by an official translation agency.


Passage of Required Testing

The South Dakota written laws and rules test is required of everyone. Study materials are provided after the application is approved. Testing content is as follows.

  • Cosmetologist - Theory examination from another state. This test cannot be given by school officials.
  • Esthetician - Theory examination from another state. This test cannot be given by school officials.
  • Nail technician - Theory examination from another state. This test cannot be given by school officials.


Reciprocity Fee of $100

This includes application verification, any examinations and initial license. It is non-refundable.

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Documentation of licensure, education and testing is through a certification from the most current state where you hold a license.

Certification can take time to obtain and most have a fee, so call your state immediately. All certifications must be sent directly to the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission from the other board. We accept education proof only from the original state board, not from the school.

Temporary License

A temporary license may be issued if the applicant has a job lined up and qualifies for a temporary license. Temporary licenses are NOT issued to nail technicians or estheticians seeking reciprocity from Florida due to the fact that Florida does not license these practices. The fee for a temporary license is $6.00 (non-refundable). It is valid until you receive the results of your examinations.

Note: All reciprocity paperwork and fees must be received before a temporary license can be issued. You cannot work until you have a valid South Dakota license to post at your work site.

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Getting Your South Dakota License

You need to know the following:

  • Incomplete applications are held for only three months.
  • There are no refunds once an application is processed.
  • You will be sent the laws/rules book and examination information after your reciprocity paperwork has been approved. <
  • State Board examinations are administered at various times throughout the year in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown.
  • The examinations are offered in English and Vietnamese.
  • Reasonable testing accommodations for a disability can be provided. (See our Americans with Disabilities (ADA) policy on our Exams page.) However, any disability will have to be documented by a physician or licensed professional.

Be sure to read the Reciprocity Checklist that is included with the application below. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our staff at 605.773.6193.

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The following forms for Reciprocity Licensing are available in Adobe PDF format from our Forms page:

Application for Reciprocity and Checklist Instructions

Temporary License Application

Work Experience Affidavit Form

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