SNAP, EBT, and food stamp programs provide families with the needed assistance to buy food. SNAP is a federal program funded through the USDA, but recipients must apply for benefits through their local state agencies. So, what if you travel to another state? Can you use your EBT card anywhere?
You can use your EBT card while visiting another state and use it anywhere EBT benefits are accepted (except Puerto Rico). However, if you move to another state or plan to be there for longer than 30 days you should check the local rules and consider applying for benefits through that state.
Can You Use Food Stamps Out of State?
Food stamps, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are available to people in need across all 50 states. The guidelines and restrictions surrounding the program are mandated by the federal government through the USDA, but individual states handle the application and distribution process.
Since you must apply through your local state agency, you may wonder if you can use your EBT card in another state.
SNAP benefits are loaded onto your EBT card which works just like a debit card. You can use your EBT card while you’re traveling anywhere in the U.S. (with the exception of Puerto Rico) just like you would use it at home.
However, if you move to another state or you plan to be there for longer than 30 days you should plan on canceling your current EBT card and applying for a new one in that state.
One thing to consider is that not all retailers may be set up to accept EBT cards from other states. If it’s a small retailer that only operates in one state, it may not be able to process cards from other areas of the country.
Also, while you’re using your EBT card in a different state, you’ll still be bound to the rules and restrictions for your home state where the card was issued. For example, you may be visiting an area that allows EBT cards to be used in restaurants in some cases. If that’s not allowed in your home state, your EBT card wouldn’t work in a restaurant even if cards from that state did.
How Long Can You Use EBT in Another State?
Using your EBT card out of state isn’t a problem on a temporary basis. So if you’re on vacation or visiting family elsewhere you shouldn’t have a problem using your card. However, if you’re doing long-term travel or have moved to another state, you may eventually run into some issues.
In most cases, you can use your EBT card for 30 days in another state without any problems. After that, your account may get flagged and you might be contacted by your local agency. They may want verification that you still live in the state and you might have to prove your residency.
If you don’t follow their instructions or provide any evidence they might request, they could suspend or cancel your SNAP benefits. So, it’s important to keep everything up to date with your local office.
If you’re moving to another state or plan to be gone for longer than 30 days, you should call your local office ahead of time. They can assist you with any steps you may need to take to ensure your benefits don’t lapse.
Can You Use EBT in Another Country?
SNAP benefits are for people living in the United States and they’re accepted by U.S. retailers all over the country. EBT cards are funded through federal funding. That means you can’t use EBT cards in another country. If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll have to plan and budget to purchase food without using your SNAP benefits.
Can You Apply for EBT in Another State?
You can only receive food stamp benefits (EBT) in the state where you currently reside. You may not apply for benefits in another state. However, if you move to a different state, you can apply for benefits there as long as you can prove your residency.
In that case, you’ll just want to be sure you notify your previous state’s local agency so you don’t look like you’re trying to get more than one EBT card.
What Can You Buy With EBT?
While there may be some minor differences from one state to the next, there are some standard rules and regulations which establish what you can buy with SNAP benefits.
Here’s some examples of what you CAN buy with your EBT card:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Dairy products
- Breads, cereals, and grains
- Non-alcoholic beverages (including soda)
- Food-producing seeds or plants
Here are some examples of INELIGIBLE items that you can’t buy with EBT:
- Alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, liquor)
- Tobacco products
- Vitamins and supplements
- Hot foods
- Pet foods
- Paper products
- Cleaning products
- Household supplies (nonfood)
- Personal hygiene items
Can You Use Food Stamps or EBT at a Farmers’ Market?
Through the USDA’s SNAP-Ed program, more and more farmers’ markets are accepting EBT as a form of payment. SNAP-Ed works with partners to help farmers’ markets accept EBT and helps educate people on how to use their benefits at local markets.
To find out if your local farmers’ market is authorized to accept SNAP benefits (EBT), check the USDA’s list, which is updated monthly.
Can You Use EBT Online?
In recent years, a lot of changes have happened with EBT rules. Because of the pandemic, people didn’t want to have to go to the store to buy groceries. This prompted legislators to take another look at the rules surrounding online shopping.
There are many retailers which allow EBT purchases online. For example, Amazon, Target, and Walmart all accept online EBT payments as long as you’re buying SNAP-eligible items.
However, EBT will not cover any added fees related to buying online, curbside pickup, or home delivery options. You’ll have to pay for those separately with your own personal form of payment.
It’s also important to note that not every state may allow this practice depending on the retailer. For example, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Montana all have restrictions on using SNAP EBT cards for online purchases.
So, it’s always a good idea to check your state’s requirements to find out for sure.
What is WIC?
WIC stands for “women, infants, and children.” This is another government assistance program that helps low-income women and children purchase healthy foods.
Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have given birth within the last six months are eligible. Children are eligible for benefits until they’re five years old.
Like EBT and SNAP benefits, WIC benefits have to be obtained through your state’s WIC office. WIC recipients can use their benefits cards to purchase things like breakfast foods, whole grains, baby food, formula, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, and so on.
In most states, WIC benefits are loaded onto an EBT card just like traditional food stamps, but with restrictions on what items shoppers are allowed to purchase.
Can You Use a WIC EBT Card in Another State?
Generally speaking, you cannot use WIC benefits outside your home state where the benefits were issued. So, if you live in Florida you can only use your WIC EBT card at participating Florida retailers.
However, if you move to another state it doesn’t mean you’ll lose your benefits altogether.
WIC participants who move can continue to receive their benefits until their certification period ends as long as they can provide proof they received WIC in another state.
If you are planning to move, you should contact your local WIC office ahead of time. In many cases, your WIC office will be able to provide you with a special card to show that you are in the WIC program. Then, you can take that to the new WIC office after you move to get your benefits set up with the new state.
Even though some states may have a waiting list for WIC recipients, individuals who previously received WIC will be prioritized at the top of the list when they move to a new state.
You can see a list of the various WIC agencies and their contact information here.
Exceptions to State Requirements
Sometimes during emergencies or natural disasters, states will lift certain requirements related to WIC benefits. If you’re displaced due to an emergency situation, be sure to check with your local WIC office to see if this may apply to your situation.
The Bottom Line
EBT cards are a fast and easy way to buy eligible food items using your SNAP benefits. Even though you have to apply and obtain your EBT card through your local state office, you can still use your EBT card in other states.
Be advised that use in another state should be temporary (30 days or less). If you move to a different location, you’ll need to apply for benefits in your new home state to continue receiving SNAP funds.
WIC EBT cards can only be used in their issued state. So, you can’t use those benefits outside your home state, even on a temporary basis.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.