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Who Gets WIC and How to Apply

In general, WIC is administered in each state or territory by state health departments or tribal organizations.

Who Gets WIC?

To be eligible for the WIC program, applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Categorical
  • Residential
  • Income
  • Nutrition Risk (View details about WIC's eligibility requirements.)
Contact the WIC State or Local Agency

Contact the WIC state or local agency serving your area to schedule an appointment. Applicants will be advised about what to bring to the WIC appointment to help determine eligibility. Many of the state agencies listed provide a toll-free number for you to call and/or a website about the WIC program operating in that area.

Length of Participation

WIC is a short-term program. Therefore, a participant will "graduate" at the end of one or more certification periods. A certification period is the length of time a WIC participant is eligible to receive benefits. Depending on whether the individual is pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, an infant, or a child, an eligible individual usually receives WIC benefits from 6 months to a year, at which time s/he must reapply.

Waiting List/Priority System

Sometimes WIC agencies do not have enough money to serve everyone who needs WIC or calls to apply. When this happens, WIC agencies must keep a list, called a waiting list, of individuals who want to apply and are likely to be served. WIC agencies then use a special system, called a Priority System, to determine who will get WIC benefits first when more people can be served. The purpose of the priority system is to make sure that WIC services and benefits are provided first to participants with the most serious health conditions such as anemia (low blood levels), underweight, history of problems during pregnancy. Learn about the Waiting List/Priority System.


WIC participants who move from one area or state to another are placed at the top of a waiting list when they move and are also served first when the WIC agency can serve more individuals. WIC participants who move can continue to receive WIC benefits until their certification period expires as long as there is proof that the individual received WIC benefits in another area or state. Before a participant moves, they should tell the WIC office. In most cases, WIC staff will give the participant a special card which proves that the individual participated in the WIC program. When the individual moves, they can call the new WIC office for an appointment and take the special card to the WIC appointment in the new area or state.

Page updated: July 17, 2024