Alabama food handler card and insurance requirements

Alabama food handler card and insurance requirements

Ashley Henshaw
By Ashley Henshaw
Jan 20, 2023
7 min read

If you’re thinking about opening a restaurant in Alabama, you’ll need to understand the local laws and regulations that apply to food service. For example, some employees in this state need to be trained and certified to comply with food safety guidelines.

An Alabama food handler certification is only required in Jefferson County and Mobile County. Both of these counties offer food handler training courses through local health departments.1

If your business operates in one of these counties, it’s important to follow the Alabama food handler license requirements. This guide covers all the important details, including:

Who needs a food handler license in Alabama?

Alabama employees only need to obtain a food handler card if they work in Jefferson County or Mobile County. Workers in these counties who prepare or serve food must obtain a food handler license.2,3

This requirement applies to hosts, servers, bussers, kitchen staff, bartenders and any other employees whose job duties require being in food preparation, service, storage or ware washing areas. 

Alabama food handler card requirements do not apply to certified food safety managers who oversee food handlers. In Alabama, every food service business must have at least one certified food protection manager.4 If you don’t have any employees, you’ll need to get this certification.

Ensuring that your employees have the proper certifications is important for complying with Alabama law as well as protecting your business. When employees are trained in proper food preparation and handling techniques, there’s less risk of foodborne illness.

Even if certification is not required in your Alabama county, you may decide to have your workers get food handler licenses as an employment requirement.

How to get an Alabama food handler license

The location of your business determines what process your employees must follow to get a food handler card. Alabama workers in Jefferson County and Mobile County must get this certification through one of the approved training options. Those in other counties may use any training provider they choose.

How to get a Jefferson County food handler card

There are three ways to get a food handler card in Jefferson county:

  1. Take an in-person food handler training course at the Jefferson County Department of Health in Birmingham.
  2. Take the online Food Handler Course available through StateFoodSafety.
  3. Be trained on the job by a certified food safety manager.

How to get a Mobile County food handler card

In Mobile County, food handlers must complete their training online through StateFoodSafety.

Alabama food handler certification verification

After successfully completing a training course, Alabama workers will receive a food handler card in person, electronically or by mail. The employer is responsible for keeping a copy of each employee’s food handler card onsite.

Alabama food handler card fees

The cost varies to become a certified food handler. Alabama workers in Jefferson County must pay $15 for an in-person class at the Department of Health or $20 for an online class. On-the-job training from a certified food safety manager is free.2

Mobile County workers must pay $23 to complete their food handler certification online.5

Employers are not required to cover the cost of Alabama food handler certification for their employees.

How long does it take to get a food handler license?

Jefferson County and Mobile County food handler certification courses take about 75 minutes to complete.5,6 For online courses, cards are issued as soon as the training is completed successfully.

Food handler license renewal requirements

In Jefferson County, food handler cards are valid for two years. Mobile County food handler cards are valid for one year. Employees must retake the training course to renew their certification.

Alabama food handler license reciprocity

Food handler cards are recognized throughout the county in which they are issued.

In Jefferson County, employees trained on the job can only transfer their certification to food service establishments with a certified food safety manager on duty at all times.2

Insurance requirements for Alabama restaurants

The right Alabama business insurance can help protect your business against the different risks you face daily. Many business owners in Alabama consider a combination of these coverage options:

General Liability insurance

Alabama general liability insurance can help provide coverage if you are held responsible for accidents involving property damage or an injury to someone other than you or an employee.

Food service general liability insurance can also include coverage specific to restaurants. For example, foodborne illness coverage can help protect your business if customers get sick from contaminated food.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

Alabama workers’ compensation insurance can help provide important coverage for workplace injuries. Businesses in Alabama with five or more employees must have workers’ compensation coverage.

Commercial Property insurance

Commercial property insurance can help pay for repairs or replacements if certain types of business assets are damaged due to a covered event, such as a fire or water damage from a burst pipe. Examples of covered property may include equipment, inventory, furniture and commercial buildings.

Commercial Auto insurance

Commercial auto insurance can help pay for costs such as property damage and medical expenses if you or an employee are involved in an accident while driving for work.

In Alabama, all commercial vehicles must have minimum coverage of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.7

How NEXT Insurance supports Alabama food handlers

NEXT provides tailored Alabama restaurant insurance policies designed for small businesses and self-employed business owners.

It only takes about 10 minutes to get a quote, review your coverage options, choose your policies and download a certificate of insurance. 

Our team of licensed insurance advisors is standing by to assist you if you have any questions along the way.

Start an instant quote online today.

Do you need food handler certification in another U.S. state? Visit our summary of food handler license requirements in every state.


1 Alabama Public Health FAQs

2 Jefferson County Food Handler Classes

3 Mobile County Health Department Environmental Services

4 Rules of Alabama State Board of Health

5 Mobile County Health Department Food Handlers Card 

6 Jefferson County, Alabama Food Handlers Card

7 Alabama Department of Insurance

Alabama food handler card and insurance requirements


Ashley Henshaw
About the author

Ashley Henshaw was a contributing writer at NEXT. She specializes in small business topics, covering everything from insurance and branding to web hosting and cryptocurrency.

Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, AOL City's Best, Citysearch, USA Today, The San Francisco Chronicle and Livestrong.

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