Illinois law generally requires people to obtain a license called a Firearm Owner’s Identification (“FOID”) Card, issued by the Illinois Department of State Police, in order to lawfully acquire or possess firearms or ammunition.1 (People who have valid permits to carry concealed handguns may possess firearms and ammunition without a FOID Card, but generally require a FOID Card in order to acquire firearms).2 Illinois law also generally prohibits people from knowingly selling firearms or ammunition to an individual who does not present a valid FOID card or permit to carry a concealed handgun prior to receiving the firearm.3
To obtain a FOID Card, a person must complete a standard application and “submit evidence” to the Illinois Department of State Police (“DSP”) as specified to verify that they are a resident of Illinois, are legally eligible to receive a FOID Card, and that they are at least 21 years of age (or, if under 21, that they have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to possess firearms).4 An applicant must also furnish their photograph.5 Upon receiving an application, DSP conducts an automated search of its criminal history record information files and those of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”), and of the files of the state Department of Human Services relating to mental health and developmental disabilities to obtain any felony conviction or patient hospitalization information which would disqualify a person from obtaining or maintaining a FOID card.6 DSP is generally required to approve or deny the FOID application within 30 days from the date the application is received.7
State law states that each FOID Card shall include specified information, including the Card holder’s name, residence, date of birth, sex, physical description, recent photograph, and signature.8 Each FOID Card must also “boldly and conspicuously” display the FOID Card number on the face of the Card.9 (Legislation enacted in 202110 authorizes the Illinois State Police to develop a system under which a FOID Card holder could display an electronic version of their FOID Card on a mobile telephone or other portable electronic device, provided that electronic version contains security features determined necessary by the State Police).11
Legislation enacted in 2021 expressly requires the State Police to continuously monitor relevant state and federal databases for “firearms prohibitors,” such as criminal history and court records that would prohibit a person from possessing a firearm legally, and to “correlate those records” with FOID Card holders to ensure that people issued FOID Cards remain eligible to possess firearms and retain their FOID.12
DSP may suspend or revoke a FOID card if a FOID holder becomes ineligible to lawfully purchase or possess firearms under state or federal law, becomes subject to a court protective order, or otherwise becomes ineligible to possess a FOID Card.13 (See the Firearm Relinquishment in Illinois section for more information about Illinois’ laws and procedures governing relinquishment of firearms and FOID Cards from people whose FOID Cards are revoked or suspended). Upon denying a person’s application for a FOID or revoking a person’s FOID, the State Police are directed to provide written notice specifically stating the grounds for the denial or revocation and notifying the person regarding their relinquishment obligations, as well as their right to administrative or judicial review of the denial or revocation.14 A copy of the written notice is to be provided to the sheriff and local law enforcement agency where the person resides.15
A person whose application for a FOID Card is denied, or whose FOID is revoked or seized, may (1) file a record challenge with the Director of the State Police regarding the record upon which which the decision to deny or revoke the Firearm Owner’s Identification Card was based, or (2) appeal to the Director of the State Police or (beginning January 1, 2023) to a newly constituted FOID Card Review Board for a hearing, unless the denial or revocation was based on the person’s history of committing specified crimes.16 All final administrative decisions regarding FOID cards by the Department of State Police are subject to judicial review under Illinois’ Administration Review Law.17
Illinois does not impose a limit on the number of firearms that may be purchased or possessed by a person with a valid FOID card.
With certain limited exceptions, any private seller of a firearm (a person who is not a licensed firearms dealer) who seeks to transfer a firearm to another person must, prior to transfer, contact the Department of State Police with the transferee’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card number to determine the validity of the transferee’s FOID Card.18 For more details, see the Universal Background Checks in Illinois section.
Disclosure or Use of Information
The names and identifying information of FOID card applicants and recipients are not public information.19
Duration and Renewal
FOID cards are generally valid for a period of 10 years.20
Legislation enacted in 2021 also directs the State Police to develop a single combined card for people who are eligible for both a FOID Card and a concealed carry license. 21 This law provides that (beginning January 1, 2022), if a person holds an expiring FOID Card but also holds a valid concealed carry license, the FOID Card shall remain valid as long as the concealed carry license is also valid, and authorizes the State Police to automatically renew the person’s FOID in these cases.22 Similarly, when a person who possesses a valid FOID Card applies for and is approved for a concealed carry license, the FOID Card is renewed for 10 years from the time of approval of the concealed carry license (instead of from the date that the original FOID was issued).23
This new legislation also directs the State Police by January 1, 2023, to develop a process for automatically renewing a person’s FOID at the time that they pass a background check to obtain a firearm from a licensed firearm dealer or a gun show promoter or vendor, if the person has provided a set of fingerprints to the State Police as specified through a live scan fingerprint vendor.24
180 days prior to the expiration of a FOID card, the DSP must generally provide written notice to the card holder of the expiration and an application for renewal.25 The holder of a FOID card is obligated to notify the DSP of any address change since the original issuance of the FOID card.26
An Illinois resident with a valid FOID card who is not otherwise prohibited from obtaining, possessing, or using a firearm may purchase a rifle or shotgun and ammunition for rifle or shotgun in the neighboring states of Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin or Kentucky.27 Any resident of Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin or Kentucky or a non-resident with a valid non-resident hunting license, who is 18 years of age or older and who is not prohibited by the laws of Illinois, the state of his or her domicile, or the United States from obtaining, possessing or using a firearm, may purchase or obtain a rifle or shotgun or ammunition for a rifle or shotgun in Illinois.28
Any resident may purchase ammunition from a person outside of Illinois, provided the purchaser provides the seller with a copy of his or her FOID card and Illinois driver’s license.29
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- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a), (c-5).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a); 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(k).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a-20).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1(b); 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8.2.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/5(a).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/6(a).
- See 2021 IL HB 562.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/6.2.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8.5.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8; 65/8.2; 65/8.3.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/9.
- 430 Ill.Comp. Stat. 65/10(a).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/11.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-10).
- 5 Ill. Comp. Stat. 140/7.5(v).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/7.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.4.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/7 (as amended by 2021 IL HB 562).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.4.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1(b-5); 65/4(a-25).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.2.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3a(a).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3a(b).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(b-5).