Food Worker Card

Washington State requires that all food workers have food safety training before handling food served to the public. Food workers who take a food safety training class and pass the State of Washington exam on food safety basics are issued a Food Worker Card (also called a Food Handler Permit).

Am I a food worker?

You are a food worker if you work with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or with any surface where people put unwrapped food.

Do I need to get a food worker card?

Yes. All food workers are required (Chapter 246-217 WAC) to have a valid food worker card to work in Washington. It's important that your card, or a copy of it, is with you at work and available for the health department to check during a food inspection.

Can I start work before I get my card?

Yes, you can work for up to 14 days before you get your card – if you get food safety training from your employer.

Where can I get a food worker card?

Local health departments offer the food worker training, test, and card. Your card is valid throughout the state.

Can I get my food worker card online?

Yes, all local health departments offer the food worker training, test, and card online. The only authorized online training program is Other websites that appear to offer a similar card online are not valid in Washington.

Trouble with the online training, test, or printing of the card? See the online food worker course frequently asked questions or contact the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department at or 1-800-204-4418.

What does a card cost?

A food worker card cost $10. Once you have a food worker card, we recommend that you keep the original and provide a copy to your employer.

Can I work anywhere in Washington with my card?

Yes. You can use your valid Washington State food worker card anywhere in Washington. If you move or get another job in a different county, your food worker card goes with you.

Can I use a card I got in another state?

No. You must have a Washington State food worker card to be employed as a food worker in our state.

Is there a study guide for the food safety exam?

Yes. Food and Beverage Workers' Manual is a study guide to help prepare you for the food safety training class and exam. The manual is available in seven languages, including Braille upon request.

I lost my card. Can I get a replacement?

Yes. If you got your card online, sign back in to After you select your language and follow the prompts, select “Returning User.” You will need to enter your registration information and answer your security question exactly as you entered it when you were a new user. Choose “Replace My Valid Food Worker Card.” A payment may be required.

If you got your card at an in-person class, contact your local health department to see how to get a replacement.

How often must I renew my card?

Your first food worker card is valid for 2 years. Before the card expires, you must take the food safety training class and pass the exam again. Renewal cards after that are valid for 3 or 5 years.

Can I get a renewal card if I have a current valid card?

Yes, you may apply for a renewal card if your current card is less than 2 years old (a current card that will not expire until 1 to 60 days after you get your renewal card.) You must show your current valid card when you apply for a renewal.

Do renewal cards last longer than my first card?

Yes, renewal cards are valid for 3 years from the issue date. You can get a renewal card if you take a food worker training class and pass the Washington State exam.

Is there a renewal card for people who have extra training?

Yes. You can receive a 5-year renewal food worker card, if you have a current card and can show that you have had "additional food safety training" within the past 2 years.

Can I get a 5-year card online?

Yes. Send proof you successfully completed “additional food safety training” within 2 years prior to renewing your food worker card to For questions, call 1-800-204-4418.

What do I need to qualify for a 5-year card?

  • Successfully complete the requirements for a food worker card renewal (attend the food safety training and pass the exam).
  • Have proof of successfully completing "additional food safety training" within 2 years prior to the food worker card renewal. (For example, if the renewal card is issued on 3/1/2020, then the "additional food safety training" must have been completed on or after 3/1/2018.)

More questions?

Contact your local health department, food safety program with other questions about food worker cards and food safety training classes.

Content Source: Food Safety Program