Obtaining a Washington food handlers card (also known as a Washington state food handlers certificate or permit) can be quite the headache.
But that’s where we come in…
We want to make the Washington state food handler card process simple. So don’t waste time scanning outdated government or deceiving course-provider websites. Here’s all the accurate, updated and important information you need to efficiently to earn yourself a Washington food handlers card.
Apron up, let’s dive in. 👨🍳
Washington Food Handlers Card Requirements
In the state of Washington, EVERY county requires food-related employees to obtain a food handlers card. Although most states in the U.S. don’t have this law, Washington food and safety regulations are a little more strict than most.
Simply put, everyone who handles food for a food establishment and/or restaurant in the state of Washington MUST complete a state-approved food safety course. After successful completion of the course and examination, you will then be granted a food handlers certification by the course provider.
Important: To save you some time, we’ve provided the ONLY Washington state-approved food handler course available online. You’ll find the correct link on this page in a couple sections below. 👇👇
⚠️ For prospective food handlers, please be aware that there are multiple unauthorized food handler courses and programs easily found online. For example, wafoodhandlers.com, efoodhandlers.com and anything ServSafe are NOT state-valid and are unacceptable. ⚠️
All food workers in Washington have up to 14 days after official employment to obtain a food handlers card. Once you have successfully earned a valid Washington state food handlers card, you can use it anywhere in the state. This means that your Washington food handlers card will be valid in every county and/or restaurant within state lines.
If you have a food handlers card from another state, however, it will not be accepted by Washington health inspectors. Therefore, you will still have to complete a Washington state-approved food handlers card program.
Here’s an example of what that fancy Washington food handlers card will look like at the end of the day:
Remember, all first-time Washington food handler cards expire after 2 years. Once the first 2 years are over with, the state gives you the option to earn a renewal card. Renewed Washington food handler cards are valid for 3 or 5 years depending on what renewal process you take. (more details on renewals are below).
What type of employees are considered a food handler in Washsington?
By Washington state law, every employee working for a restaurant and/or food facility, that deals directly with unpackaged food product(s) is a food handler.
Here’s the definition of food handler, courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health:
You are a food worker if you work with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or with any surface where people put unwrapped food.
This means that all employees directly involved in the storage, preparation, or service of ready-to-eat, unpackaged foods is a food handler. Simply put, nearly everyone in the food establishment must receive a Washington food handlers card, even the host or hostess
If someone working in a facility is not a food handler on a regular basis, but fills in as a food handler randomly, they must have food handler training as well.
To clarify this ever further, here’s a list of job titles that REQUIRE food handlers training in the state of Washington:
- Line Cook
- Food Prep
- Kitchen Manager
- Food Runner
- Host/ Hostess who handles food
- Food-truck employees
Who does NOT need a food handlers certification in Washington?
Those that do NOT have to receive a Washington food handlers card are mainly (1) unpaid volunteers, (2) temporary food establishment employees.
Keep in mind, if you work in a non-restaurant facility (nursing home, public school, retail food store, day care facilities, etc.) in the state of Washington but directly work with unpackaged food products, you are STILL required to receive a food handler certification. If you are unsure, please be sure to double check with your non-restaurant employer or manager. 🙂
Where to Get Your Washington State Food Handlers Card: Training & Course Providers
The state of Washington requires food workers to receive their food handlers training from ONLY one training provider – http://www.foodworkercard.wa.gov. All other food handler cards given through other course providers are NOT valid by state law.
Therefore, as someone looking to become a Washington state food handler, you need to be wary of all the courses online that claim they are “state approved.” In reality, there’s only one source online where you can get the correct, state-approved course.
So just to be perfectly safe, we want to share a 100% safe and state-verified link, that directly leads you to correct course provider: https://www.foodworkercard.wa.gov/
Additionally, some local health departments offer the food worker training, test, and card. For those who wish to take training in more of a classroom environment, click here to contact your local health department.
Steps to get an Washington Food Handlers Card (aka Food Handlers Permit)
- Click on this link to access the state-approved course provider
- Watch the videos and read all training material (additional study materials are provided below)
- Pass the online test provided
- Make payment. Once you’ve successfully completed the test, you will be required to pay $10
- Print your official Washington food handlers card. After the payment, you be given the printing permission by the course provider.
- Print out multiple copies of your certification or save the file to your desktop at home. This is just a safety measure, just in case you lose you original Illinois food handler certificate.
- Provide your employer with a copy of your certificate.
The training and quiz itself can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to complete. But it can indeed take longer if you wish to study and review important information in order to be better prepared for the final exam.
How much does the Washington Food Handlers Card cost?
The Washington food handlers card cost $10. You will be required to pay the $10 course fee after taking the final test… and before you can access any printing features. Credit and debit cards are accepted!
Washington Food Handlers Practice Tests & Study Material
The best way prepare for the final exam is to study the Washington state Food and Beverage Workers’ Manual. This study guide will walk you through all things food preparation and safety… and is available in seven (7) different languages.
Other helpful study materials include:
- WA Food Worker Card Regulations
- Washington State Liquor Control Board’s Mandatory Alcohol Server Training
For your convenience, we’ve also put together our favorite Washington food handlers card practice tests. Although these don’t focus on Washington state specific laws and food safety measures, they are a good resource in general. We’ve heard from many sources that these tests nearly replicate the questions that you’ll be receiving on the final exam!
- Premier Food Safety practice test
- Food handlers quiz flash cards
- ProProfs practice test
Is Your Washington Food Handlers Certification Lost?
If you lost your Washington Food Handlers Card, simply log back in to the state’s course provider at www.foodworkercard.wa.gov… and select “Returning User.” Using the same username and password as before, you should have access to the tab “Replace My Valid Food Worker Card.” This will give you printing options, however, a payment may be required depending on which county you live in.
FHC Tip: Remember to always print out multiple copies of your Washington food handlers card so you don’t ever run into this problem.
If you got your card at an in-person class, contact your local health department to see how to get a replacement.
Is Your Washington Food Handlers Certification Expired?
In Washington, your first food handlers card expires 2 years after the issuance date. To renew your Washington food handlers card, you have two options.
- The first renewal option is to sign up for the same state-approved food safety course and pass their test all over again. The course will once again cost $10 however, since it will be your second Washington food handlers card, it will now expire after 3 years (not 2 years, like your initial WA food handlers card).
- The second renewal option is for those that do not want to deal with any of this for a long time. For those that want a renewed WA food handlers card that expires every 5 years, you will have to do the following:
- Retake the same state-approved food safety course and pass their test all over again. (The course will charge you $10 again) After this step your card is valid for another 3 years. But to get that additional 2 years students must also…
- Have proof of successfully completing “additional food safety training” within 2 years prior to the food worker card renewal.
You can find all “additional food safety training” details here.
Both renewal options ensures that everyone in the state of Washington stays up to date with proper food safety procedures.
Minimum Age Required to Handle Food in the State of Washington:
- We believe most Washington food handler certificate programs require a participant to be at least 13 years of age in order to take their course but that is not a rule the food code addresses.
State of Washington Food Handler Qualifications:
- There are no restrictions for individuals to receive food handler cards in the state of Illinois.
- Employees who work directly with food that have specific medical symptoms or food illnesses need to be extra cautious. In this case, it would be best for you to consult with your medical provider.
Other Requirements That May Be Helpful:
- Driver’s License and/or Passport
- Good Communication Skills
- Being able to stand long periods of time
- Knowledge of basic food safety
For more information, please contact the Washington State Department of Health… the WA Food Handler FAQ page… or visit our Food Handlers Help homepage.