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Illinois law generally requires people to have a valid 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 are exempt from this requirement, however).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

Each applicant for a FOID card is required to complete an application and “submit evidence” to the Illinois Department of State Police (“DSP”) that she or he is 21 years of age or over (or, if under 21, show that she or he has the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to possess firearms), is a resident of Illinois, and is not a prohibited purchaser.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

The DSP has the authority to revoke a FOID card if the holder becomes ineligible to lawfully purchase or possess firearms under state or federal law.7 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.8

A person may appeal to the Director of State Police for a hearing when their FOID Card is revoked or if their application for a FOID card application is denied or not approved within 30 days of its receipt by DSP, unless the denial or revocation was based on the person’s history of committing specified crimes.9 All final administrative decisions regarding FOID cards by the Department of State Police are subject to judicial review under Illinois’ Administration Review Law.10

Illinois does not impose a limit on the number of firearms that may be purchased or possessed by a person who has 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.11 For more details, see the Private Sales in Illinois section.

Disclosure or Use of Information

Under a law enacted in Illinois in 2011, the names and identifying information of applicants for, and recipients of, FOID cards are no longer public information.12

Duration and Renewal

FOID cards are valid for a period of ten years from the date of issue.13 Sixty days prior to the expiration of a FOID card, the DSP must provide written notice to the card holder of the expiration and an application for renewal.14 The holder of a FOID card is obligated to notify the DSP of an address change following the issuance of the FOID card.15

Reciprocity

An Illinois resident with a valid FOID card who is not otherwise prohibited from obtaining, possessing or using a firearm may purchase a long gun and ammunition for a long gun in Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin or Kentucky.16 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 long gun or ammunition for a long gun in Illinois.17

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.18

See the Background Checks in Illinois and Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Illinois sections for further details on the requirements for obtaining a FOID card.

 See our Licensing policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

  1. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2).[]
  2. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(c)(5).[]
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a); 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(k).[]
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a).[]
  5. Id.[]
  6. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1(b).[]
  7. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8.[]
  8. There are notable gaps in Illinois’ laws in this area. Comprehensive legislation to close these gaps and strengthen Illinois’ relinquishment process unfortunately stalled in the Legislature in 2020.[]
  9. 430 Ill.Comp. Stat. 65/10(a).[]
  10. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/11.[]
  11. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-10).[]
  12. 5 Ill. Comp. Stat. 140/7.5(v).[]
  13. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/7.[]
  14. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.2.[]
  15. Id.[]
  16. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3a(a).[]
  17. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3a(b).[]
  18. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(b-5).[]