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How to Get a Food Handler's Card In Virginia

Nick PerryAuthor

You can’t do everything yourself in a restaurant. You need great managers and a great staff to make things run smoothly and remain compliant with local regulations. While quality managers streamline operations, the best manager skills include delegating, scheduling, and ensuring that there’s staff on hand who are certified to handle food correctly. Without those people, your restaurant could risk exposure to fines or closures.

In this article, you will learn about food handler requirements in Virginia, who needs to be certified, and how you can get certified in the state.

Virginia Food Handler's Card

Food Handlers License in Virginia, also known as a Virginia Food Handler Card

What is it and why do you need it?

A food service license, also known as an employee health permit, allows restaurants, vendors, or any other type of food business to safely sell and serve food onsite. These licenses ensure that every employee knows how to do their part to keep your diners safe from foodborne illness. They’re often referred to as ServSafe, after the company that administers most food handler’s tests, or as a Virginia Food Handler Card.

How to get a food handler’s license in Virginia

Every employee who prepares or serves food in Virginia must get their Food Handler’s license within 30 days of being hired — chefs, cooks, servers, baristas, and bartenders, to name a few. Bussers and general managers may not be required to do so. 

And if managers have already gotten their Food Protection Manager Certification, they’re also exempt from getting a Virginia Food Handler card. Some jurisdictions have their own food safety training programs and standards, so they’re exempt from requiring employees to get a Virginia Food Handler card.

To get their food handler’s card, employees must pass a test about food safety and preparation with a grade of at least 70% (or higher in some jurisdictions).

How much does a food service license cost in Virginia?

Virginia state law requires that the test and license not cost more than $15, in order to make sure anyone working in a restaurant can afford to get certified.


License Name

Cost

Link

Food Handler's License

Up to $15 per employee

Virginia Food Handler Training

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What restaurant jobs require a food handler license?

There’s no requirement for regular employees to have a food handler license. However, anyone working in the kitchen who is regularly handling food, like line cooks, sous chefs, and chefs, should have a food handler license. It makes sense for a restaurant manager or chef to be the designed Food Protection Manager, as well, since they’re in a position of authority in the restaurant.

While waiters, bussers, and other staff who come in contact with food don’t need food handlers licenses, it may be a good idea for them to become certified for greater career flexibility and to lessen a restaurant’s liability.

How do I get a food handler’s card in Virginia?

Getting a food handler’s card in Virginia is a fairly easy process. There are many courses, both online and in-person, that will give you the information you need. Once you complete a certification course, you’ll have your food handler’s license.

What are the best options for a food handler’s card in Virginia?

There are many ways to get your food handler’s card in Virginia. These are some of the most popular ways to do it.

  • Local programs: Virginia doesn’t offer an official food handler card certification program, but there are many local organizations that can help you get certified. Speak to a restaurant manager or owner, or Google local programs to find an option near you.
  • Online training resources: 360 Training’s Food Handler Card program is just $9 and is available in most states, including Virginia. The quick program will teach you what you need to know and help you earn certification quickly. There are many other online programs that offer food handler card training for $10 or less, allowing you to complete the entire program online.
  • Other options for food handler cards include:
  • AAA Food Handler: AAA Food Handler offers national training resources, with the ability to focus in on specific states. You can train for Food Handler, Food Manager, and Alcohol Handling through a single source. While AAA Food Handler won’t give you the exam, you can get the training you’ll need to pass in Massachusetts for a far more affordable price than other options.

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There’s no requirement for common employees to have a food handler’s card in Virginia. However, many private businesses do require it, and it’s a good idea as a manager to make food handling certification a priority. Getting the certification is easy and can increase job security and lower a restaurant’s liability.

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