Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) is the predominant functional unit of telomerase and maintains the telomere length and the stability of chromosomes. Recently, TERT has been shown to be a critical factor in a number of other biological processes, including cell proliferation and cancer metastasis. In addition, although numerous studies have been conducted, the subcellular localization of the TERT protein and the association of such with cancer metastasis remains unclear. To investigate the involvement of TERT in in vivo metastasis, quantum dots-based immunofluorescence and western blot analysis were conducted to detect changes in the subcellular localization of TERT in human nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) tissues and metastatic lymph nodes. To further investigate, metastatic and non-metastatic models of NPC were generated using 5-8F (high metastasis capability) and 6-10B (low metastasis capability) cell lines, respectively. It was found that TERT protein was overexpressed in NPC tissue samples and metastatic lymph nodes and TERT was predominantly located in the cytoplasm of primary NPC tissues, while TERT was predominantly located in the nucleus of the metastatic lymph nodes. The ratio of cytoplasmic TERT/nuclear TERT for the primary tumor of the 6-10B cell line was almost six-fold higher than that of the metastatic lymph nodes of the 5-8F cell line. TERT translocation from the cytoplasm to nucleus may present a critical step in the lymphatic metastasis of NPC. Thus, TERT translocation may be more useful than TERT expression level and telomerase activity for predicting the metastasis of NPC.