WooCommerce Docs

Documentation, Reference Materials, and Tutorials for your WooCommerce products


PayPal Standard

PayPal Standard in WooCommerce core uses Instant Payment Notification (IPN) and has been updated with PayPal’s announcement to https for added security.

What Do You Do? Ensure that your host supports HTTPS connections through CURL/fsockopen using TLS 1.2 or newer certificates. Your system status page in WooCommerce will tell you if there are any problems connecting. Contact your host to fix that if needed.

Setup ↑ Back to Top

PayPal Standard WooCommerce Email Field

PayPal Standard takes customers from your site to PayPal’s secure site to finish paying for their order.

  1. Enable PayPal Standard.
  2. Enter a title & description.
  3. Enter your email address in the PayPal Email field, which is the most important information you need to configure before taking payments.
    *If you don’t have an account with PayPal, be sure to sign up for a business account. It’s free.

PayPal Business account

Enable PayPal Sandbox to test your checkout process during your store’s development. With sandbox enabled, no payments/money is taken. More at: PayPal Sandbox.

Logs may also be turned on, which can be useful during development. PayPal’s log files URL looks like this: wc-logs/paypal-ccf2fdcbf81b53e25f70bfc2a2aa29bf.log

You may need to first create a wc-logs folder and set permissions to make it writable.

Shipping Options ↑ Back to Top

There are two shipping options:

  • Send shipping details to PayPal. You can opt to have WooCommerce send shipping details to PayPal to create shipping labels instead of billing.
  • Address override option. While we recommend you keep it disabled, it can be used to prevent address information from being changed.
Note: When selecting the option to send Shipping details, PayPal verifies passed addresses and can often reject the customer if they don’t fully recognize the address.

Advanced Options ↑ Back to Top

Under Advanced Options, there are a few fields you can use as needed.

  • Receiver Email can be used if the email address that receives payments is different from the primary email address on your PayPal account.
  • Invoice Prefix to add a prefix to PayPal invoices. This is helpful if you’re using the same PayPal account for more than one website/store.
  • Payment Action lets you choose to capture funds immediately or only authorize.
  • Page Style is an optional setting where you can enter the name of a custom page from your PayPal account.
  • PayPal Identity Token can be used to verify payments if you have IPN issues.

API Credentials ↑ Back to Top

Three fields to paste your PayPal API credentials into: API Username, API Password and API Signature. Learn how to get that information from PayPal here.

Data passed to PayPal ↑ Back to Top

The PayPal gateway passes individual line items to PayPal (product name, price and quantity) unless:

  • Your prices are defined as including tax
  • You have more than nine line items, including shipping – PayPal only supports nine items.

This is to prevent rounding errors and to ensure correct totals are charged. When line items are not sent, the items are grouped and named ‘Order #x’.

PayPal notification URL ↑ Back to Top

It is a good practice to set up your PayPal notification URL, as it prevents IPN issues.

Log into your PayPal account and use the following URL, replacing example.com with your own URL:


In your PayPal business account, go to: Profile and settings > My selling tools. Click on Instant payment notifications to set the URL.

Instant Payment Notifications

Auto-Return ↑ Back to Top

You can set up auto-return in your PayPal account, which will take customers to a receipt page. For example, use the following URL and replace example.com with your own URL:


Regardless of this setting, it redirects dynamically to the correct receipt page.

Add ?utm_nooverride=1 to the end of your URL to ensure that transactions (i.e., conversions) are credited to the original traffic source, rather than PayPal.

Webiset preferencesFAQ

I have pending orders, but no payment was received.

If the customer abandons the order in PayPal (and not your WooCommerce store), the order shows as Pending (unpaid). No action is necessary.

My shipping costs are not transferring to PayPal

WooCommerce 2.6+ sends shipping costs as a ‘real’ shipping line item via PayPals API. If your PayPal account has shipping rules setup within it, these will take over and remove the cost WooCommerce sends across.

To resolve you must remove all shipping rules setup on the PayPal account side or disable them using this method:


Do I need an SSL certificate?

The payment is made offsite on the PayPal website and not your checkout. Adding an SSL certificate is optional but definitely encouraged. More and more an SSL certificate is becoming a ranking factor in search results, and it keeps any information transmitted to and from your site secure.

Why am I getting payments, but orders are still pending? *OR* Why is my cart not clearing after making payment?

In this case, the PayPal IPN is failing. Check your server and see the Debugging IPN issues section below.

Why do I get an Internal Server Error?

If you see the following error message after hitting the purchase button, the email address you entered in PayPal settings is incorrect:


What is PayPal IPN?

PayPal Instant Payment Notifications (PayPal IPN) tells your store that payment has been successful (or not). To learn more about how to set this up on PayPal, see: How to Activate IPN in your PayPal Account.

Using the same PayPal account with more than one website

WooCommerce uses an “invoice” system. There is a setting that “blocks duplicate invoices.” With two websites using invoices, it is inevitable that there will be duplicate invoice numbers. By de-selecting that setting in PayPal, the invoices have no issue. Please check that the Invoice Prefix in your WooCommerce PayPal settings is different for each site.

Do customers need a PayPal account?

PayPal has an option that allows customers to check out without creating an account. The setting is called PayPal Account Optional, and can be found inside of your PayPal account in the My Profile section. Go to My selling tools > Website Preferences, and turn on PayPal Account Optional. To learn more, see: PayPal’s Website.

Is PayPal Seller Protection in effect?

Yes, if you use your Shipping address. No, if you use your Billing address (default). The PayPal API does not recognize more than one address.

Message: Seller only accepts payments from unencrypted payments

The “Seller only accepts payments from unencrypted payments” message is from PayPal.

This error displays when your PayPal Account Profile is set to only accept payments from “encrypted” buttons but your item button code is “not” encrypted. This interrupts the payment process and displays the error message.

To turn off this option:

  1. Log into your PayPay Account.
  2. Select the Profile tab or Edit Profile link.
  3. Under Selling Preferences, select Website Payment Preferences.
  4. In the “Encrypted Website Payments” section, select Off.
  5. Save changes.

Message: This invoice has already been paid

WooCommerce order numbers may not be unique if you’re running multiple stores or use your PayPal account for other things.

To avoid this issue, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Checkout > PayPal and set a unique ‘prefix’ for your store, e.g., MYSTORE-

Debugging IPN issues ↑ Back to Top

The below steps can be taken if IPN is not updating your orders. Whilst working on these problems you may want to prevent pending (unpaid) orders cancelling automatically so you have a chance to manually confirm payment without IPN. To do this, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Products > Inventory and set the “Hold Stock (minutes)” option to nothing (leave the field empty).

Please also note, you can check the IPN history page for more information on IPN deliverability here: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_display-ipns-history

Are you testing locally?

If you are testing locally, on MAMP for example, PayPal is unable to talk to your store. This is normal — it will work when you host it on the web.

Check your server has support for fsockopen

The gateway must talk to PayPal to check the validity of notifications – for this it needs fsockopen support. The exact function used is http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_API/wp_remote_post

*To check if this is supported by your server, go to WooCommerce > System Status and see the results.

Check if your server has a firewall

The gateway talks to PayPal via a https URL. Your firewall needs to have the outgoing port 443 open.

Enable Logging

After enabling logs via the settings, check to see that responses are being received. If they are not, then the problem may be due to your WordPress install or a plugin conflict. Turn off other plugins.

Check Email Addresses

Check that the Email Address in the PayPal gateway settings matches the email address passed back by IPN. Use your primary email address for your PayPal account. They need to match.

Failure to do so will cause the IPN response to be rejected. This could result in orders remaining on hold or not completing.

Check for conflicts

If the order status is not changing on order complete, check if there is a conflict with W3 Total Cache.

Currency in PayPal Sandbox mode

When PayPal is in sandbox mode, it automatically sets payments to Pending if they are made in a currency other than the sandbox currency. Ensure that the currency you have set in PayPal sandbox is the same as the currency in your WooCommerce store.

Why don’t customers see the link to download products after paying and getting redirected back to my website?

This could be a sign that the IPN isn’t working correctly with your website. A possible workaround is to enable Payment Data Transfer (PDT). Within your PayPal account settings, try setting the following:

Configure PayPal website settings

Once you have saved the settings, navigate back to the Website Settings page and you will see the PDT Identity Token:

Payment Data Transfer token

With the PDT Identity Token copied, you can paste it into the WooCommerce > Settings > Checkout > PayPal field:

PayPal PDT WooCommerce

Still not working?

Get in touch with your host. Some hosts, such as GoDaddy, are known to have problems with IPN, and this is unfortunately out of our control.

 2016-03-10 at 09.24


Alternatively, to disable duplicate invoice checking, log into your PayPal account and go to Profile > Profile and Settings > My Selling Preferences > Block Payments (or) Payment Receiving Preferences and set Block accidental payments to No.

2016-03-10 at 09.23

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