Illinois food handler license and insurance requirements

Illinois food handler license and insurance requirements

Alex Dryjowicz
By Alex Dryjowicz
Jan 16, 2023
8 min read

Do you run a food service business in Illinois or want to open a restaurant in the state? It’s important to know which of your employees may need an Illinois food handler’s license or certification.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) requires all paid workers who handle food to complete an ANSI-accredited food safety training program within 30 days of employment.1

Learn more about the food handler certification Illinois food service workers need in this guide, including:

Who needs an Illinois food handler certificate?

All employees who work with unpackaged food, food equipment, utensils or food contact surfaces must have a food handler certificate within 30 days of employment.1

Food handlers can include waitstaff, chefs, prep cooks, bussers, bartenders and event staff at restaurants and other food service businesses.

Each food service establishment must also be under the supervision of a certified food protection manager, who undergoes a separate certification process and ensures food handlers carry out food safety procedures. Illinois-certified food protection managers are exempt from the food handler license requirements.

At least one individual at every Illinois food establishment must be a certified food protection manager. You will need to get this certification if you are a sole proprietor.2

There are a few other individuals who may be exempt from the Illinois food handling certificate requirements, such as: 

  • Workers who only handle and serve pre-packaged items
  • Nursing or therapy staff who assist with delivering trays or assisting patients with feeding but do not prepare meals
  • Childcare workers and teachers who distribute pre-portioned food in a classroom or daycare setting
  • Volunteers who handle food but are not food service establishment employees

Along with ensuring legal compliance with the requirements set out by the state for food handler certificates, Illinois businesses benefit from this training. By ensuring that your employees are properly trained in food handling and preparation techniques, you can reduce your business’s risk of causing foodborne illness. 

How to get an Illinois food handler license

To get a food handling certification, Illinois restaurant workers must complete an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited training course. Courses are available both in person and online.1

In these ANSI-accredited courses, food handlers learn about various topics related to safe food handling, including: 

  • Preventing foodborne illness
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
  • Cleaning and workspace sterilization
  • Cross-contamination awareness
  • Time and temperature requirements 

To receive an Illinois food handler card or proof of certification, participants must pass an exam about the topic covered in the course.

Illinois food handler certification verification

After successfully completing a course, Illinois workers will receive proof of training in the form of a card, certificate or a written or electronic list with the food handler’s name, training received and the completion date. ANSI-approved training courses issue a certificate with a unique number for each food handler.

As an employer, it is your responsibility to keep proof of every employee’s food handler certificate on site. If you need to verify one of your employee’s food handler certifications, contact the program they used for their training.

Food handler license fees

Accredited Illinois food handler courses are available online and in person. While there are no set fees for the course, the Food Handling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2013 requires at least one food handler training option to be available for $15 or less. There are currently multiple ANSI-accredited training programs available online for this price.

Employers are not required to cover the cost of food handler training, although many do. Since the certificate is transferable between employers, it belongs to the food handler and is considered their property.1

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

It takes approximately two hours to earn a food handling certificate. Illinois workers become certified food handlers as soon as the course is successfully completed. There are many ANSI-accredited training programs to choose from, with many offering the option to receive instant proof of certification electronically.1

Food handler certificate renewal requirements

ANSI food handler certificates in Illinois are valid for three years from the date they are issued. Workers must retake the course and pass the exam to receive a new certification.

Some non-restaurant food handlers with employer-specific training are not required to redo the training unless they work for another employer.1

Food handler license reciprocity in Illinois

All accredited restaurant food handler certifications in Illinois are accepted statewide. Out-of-state food handler cards only receive reciprocity in Illinois if they are from an ANSI-accredited program.1

Insurance requirements for Illinois restaurants

Having the right Illinois business insurance policies can help protect your business from everyday risks. Many businesses in Illinois consider a combination of these insurance options:

General Liability insurance

General liability insurance in Illinois can help protect your business financially if you are held responsible for an accident that causes property damages or an injury to a third party. 

Food service general liability insurance can help protect against additional industry-specific risks with foodborne illness coverage. This type of coverage may help protect your business if a customer gets sick from contaminated food or food prepared incorrectly.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

Illinois workers’ compensation insurance can help provide important coverage for medical expenses and lost wages if an employee gets hurt on the job. The state of Illinois requires all businesses with at least one employee to carry workers’ comp insurance. 

Commercial Property insurance

Commercial property insurance can help protect your physical business assets, such as inventory, furniture, equipment and buildings. In case of a covered event such as a burst pipe or vandalism, this insurance may be able to help pay for repairs or replacements for damaged business property. 

Commercial Auto insurance

Commercial auto insurance can help provide important coverage for medical expenses, property damage and other related costs if you or an employee gets in an accident while driving a company vehicle.

In Illinois, all vehicles must have minimum auto insurance coverage of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and $20,000 for property damage.3

How NEXT Insurance supports Illinois food handlers

NEXT provides tailored Illinois restaurant insurance coverage for small businesses and self-employed individuals.

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 Food Handler Training

2 Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act (410 ILCS 625/)

3 Mandatory Insurance Brochure

Illinois food handler license and insurance requirements


Alex Dryjowicz
About the author

Alex Dryjowicz is a copywriter, content creator and regular contributor to NEXT Insurance. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and small business owners across all industries succeed.

She also enjoys intercultural communications and all things scuba diving.

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