Posted On: March 17, 2023

Food Handlers Expiration: How to Renew Your Food Handlers Card

Working in the food service industry requires a deep understanding of food safety and hygiene practices. To ensure that food handlers are equipped with this knowledge, many states require that food service workers obtain a food handler's card. The card certifies that the individual has completed a food safety training course and understands safe food handling practices. 

However, like most certificates, food handler cards have a limited lifespan and require periodic food handlers permit renewal. In this post, we will explore the expiration of food handler's cards and the renewal process of a food handler's card. Whether you are a seasoned food handler or just starting your career in the food service industry, this post will provide the information you need to ensure your food handler's card remains valid. 

What is a food handler's card? 

A food handler's card, also known as a food handler's permit or food service worker card, is a certificate or card that verifies that an individual has completed a food safety training course and has a basic understanding of safe food handling practices. The food handler's card aims to ensure that food service workers knowledge and skills necessary to prevent foodborne illness and provide safe food to the public.

The card is typically required for people who work in food service, such as servers, bartenders, chefs, bakers, dishwashers, and others who handle food. The requirements for obtaining a food handler's card vary by state and jurisdiction. Still, most programs require successfully completing a food handlers training course and passing a food safety exam for certification. 

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How long does a food handler's card last? 

The lifespan of a food handler's card varies by state and jurisdiction, but it is typically valid for 2 to 5 years. After this period has expired, the food handler's card must be renewed by taking a food handlers course and passing a food safety exam.

It's essential to check with your local health department or regulatory agency to determine the specific requirements in your area, including how often you need to renew your food handler's card and what steps you need to take to do so.

How long is a food handler's card good for? 

Generally, food handler certifications typically require renewal every 2 to 5 years to ensure the holder's knowledge of food safety remains current. This renewal frequency is necessary to maintain a high standard of food safety practices.

Here you can see how long a food handlers card is good for, per state: 

State

Valid for

Alabama

2 years in Jefferson County and 1 year in Mobile County. Elsewhere in Alabama, generally for 2–3 years.

Alaska

3 years. Expires on the 3rd anniversary of the date you pass the test. Food worker licenses issued by the MOA also last 3 years.

Arizona

1 year in Yuma County. In other counties, 2 or 3 years, depending on the jurisdiction.

Arkansas

2–3 years

California

3 years unless you work in Riverside County. Riverside's food handler card is only valid for 2 years.

Colorado

2–3 years

Connecticut

2–3 years

Delaware

2–3 years

Florida

3 years

Georgia

2–3 years

Hawaii

3 years from the date of successful course completion.

Idaho

2–3 years

Illinois

3 years

Indiana

5 years

Iowa

2–3 years

Kansas

3 years

Kentucky

It varies by county. Expirations range from 1 to 3 years in counties that require a card. Elsewhere in Kentucky, food handler certification is generally valid for 2–3 years.

Louisiana

2–3 years

Maine

2–3 years

Maryland

2–3 years

Massachusetts

3 years

Michigan

2–3 years

Minnesota

2–3 years

Mississippi

2–3 years

Missouri

Check with your local health authority—expirations in Missouri usually range from 2 to 4 years, depending on the jurisdiction.

Montana

2–3 years

Nebraska

Lincoln-Lancaster County, for 2 years. Outside of Lincoln, Nebraska, 2–3 years.

Nevada

Clark County food handler cards last 3 years. Everywhere else in Nevada, food handler certification is generally valid for 2-3 years.

New Hampshire

2–3 years

New Jersey

2–3 years

New Mexico

3 years

New York

2–3 years

North Carolina

2–3 years

North Dakota

2–3 years

Ohio

In Ohio, Person-in-Charge/Level One training does not expire. However, local health departments may have their renewal requirements, and some employers may like you to have regular refreshers.

Oklahoma

2–3 years

Oregon

3 years

Pennsylvania

2–3 years

Rhode Island

2–3 years

South Carolina

2–3 years

South Dakota

2–3 years

Tennessee

2–3 years

Texas

2 years

Utah

3 years

Vermont

2–3 years

Virginia

2–3 years

Washington

Your FIRST food handler card is valid for 2 years. Before the card expires, you must repeat the class and pass the exam.

After that, renewal cards are valid for 3 years. But you can earn a 5-year card by completing authorized additional food safety training within the first 2 years of your renewal.

West Virginia

Individual local health authorities choose the renewal frequency for their jurisdiction. But by West Virginia statute, renewal periods must be at least 1 year, but not more than 3 years.

Wisconsin

2–3 years

Wyoming

2–3 years

Complying with the frequent renewal dates helps to reinforce proper food safety practices. Remember, to ensure that you meet your area's renewal requirements, always check with your employer or local health authority.

How to Renew Food Handlers Card

A food handler permit holder needs to renew their certificate before the expiration date of their current certification. The process of renewing the permit is straightforward and without hassle. 

The process for renewing a food handler's permit will vary depending on the state or jurisdiction where you work, but here are some general steps that you may follow:

1. Determine the Expiration Date of Your Food Handlers Permit

Check the expiration date of your food handler's permit and renew it before it expires. If you let it expire, you may have to start the process from the beginning.

2. Check the Requirements

Contact your local health department or regulatory agency to determine the specific requirements for renewing your food handler's permit. Some states require that you take a food safety training course, while others may require you to take a food safety exam.

3. Take a Food Safety Course or Exam

Depending on the requirements in your state, you may need to take a food safety training course and/or complete a food safety exam with a passing score. Some courses are available online, while others may be offered in person. Check with your local health department or regulatory agency to determine your options.

4. Submit Proof of Completion

Once you have completed the food safety course and/or passed the food safety exam, you must submit proof of completion to your local health department or regulatory agency. This may involve submitting a certificate of completion, an official transcript, or other documentation.

5. Receive Your Renewed Food Handlers Permit

Once your local health department or regulatory agency has received proof of completion, they will issue you a new food handler's permit. The new license will be valid for a specified period, typically 2 to 5 years.

It's important to note that the specific requirements for renewing a food handler's permit may vary from state to state, so it's a good idea to check with your local health department or regulatory agency for the most up-to-date information. 

Start your safe food handling journey today and quickly obtain your food handler certificate online with our Food Handlers Online Training.

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