Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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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. We can only count work experience gained in the state you have previously been licensed in. Two hours of work experience equals one hour of education.

If your work hours are dated 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 750 hours

Esthetician - up to 300 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.

Passage of Required Testing

The South Dakota written laws and rules test is required of all reciprocity applicants. Study materials and a take-home, open-book exam are provided after the application is approved.

All applicants are further required to have passed a theory examination, not given by school officials, in order to become licensed. If you have not already passed this exam in ther state where you are licensed, you will be required to take the NIC theory exam for your field (Cosmetology, Esthetics, or Nail Technology) to become licensed. This exam is offered in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean.

Reciprocity Fee of $100

This includes the fees for the application verification, any examinations required, and your initial license. It is non-refundable.

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Documentation of licensure, education, and testing history is obtained through a certification from the most current state where you hold a license. (or your initial issuing state if you received your license in your current state through reciprocity)

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

It is not necessary to wait for your certification of licensure to arrive at our office prior to testing. All applications will be held for up to 3 months, until this documentation arrives.

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 examination information after your reciprocity paperwork is fully complete and has been approved.
  • State Board examinations are administered weekly, on Wednesday's, with certain expections.
  • The examinations are offered in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean.
  • Reasonable testing accommodations for a disability may 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 email our staff at or call us at 605.773.6193.

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The following forms for Reciprocity Licensing are available in Adobe PDF format:

Reciprocity Application and Reciprocity Checklist (must be included with the application)

Work Experience Affidavit Form

All forms can be found on the Forms page.

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