Identifying your IPN listener to PayPal

APILegacyLast updated: December 14th 2023, @ 6:46:48 am

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After you implement and test your IPN listener, you make your listener known to PayPal by specifying the listener's URL in your account's profile. Optionally, you can override the URL to specify another listener for specific payments.

Setting Up IPN Notifications on PayPal

The following procedure describes how to specify and activate the URL for your IPN listener in your PayPal profile.

Your listener must be located at the URL that you specify in the profile. Before you activate your listener on PayPal, you should test the listener using the IPN simulator in the sandbox.

The steps to set up your listener for Sandbox testing and to set up your listener for live operation on PayPal are the same. The only difference is that you log into the sandbox to set up your listener for Sandbox testing and you log into PayPal to set up your listener for live operation.

Note: Sandbox testing goes beyond simply using the IPN simulator. The IPN simulator only sends IPN messages to a listener; it does not perform the complete operation; for example, it does not complete a transaction. Sandbox testing involves performing the same actions in the sandbox as you expect to be performed when the listener goes live.

After you log in, follow these instructions to set up your listener:

  1. Log in to your PayPal business account at
  2. Hover over your name and then click Account Settings from the dropdown menu.

  3. On the Notifications page, click the Update link for the Instant payment notifications item.
  4. Click Choose IPN Settings to specify your listener's URL and activate the listener.
  5. Specify the URL for your listener in the Notification URL field.
  6. Click Receive IPN messages (Enabled) to enable your listener.
  7. Click Save.

You can return to the Instant Payment Notification page to modify your notification URL, disable your listener, or turn off IPN.

Dynamically Setting the Notification URL

You can specify an IPN listener for a specific payment; this is the only way to receive IPNs associated with Adaptive Payments. In this case, PayPal sends the IPN message to the listener specified in the notification URL for a specific button or API operation instead of the listener specified in your Profile.

To specify a notification URL:

For a/an ... specify your IPN Listener's URL in the ...
PayPal Payments Standard button notify_url HTML form variable
NVP API operation NOTIFYURL field of the DoDirectPayment, DoExpressCheckoutPayment, or DoReferenceTransaction request
SOAP API operation NotifyURL field of the DoDirectPayment, DoExpressCheckoutPayment, or DoReferenceTransaction request
Adaptive Payments API operation ipnNotificationUrl field of the Pay or Preapproval request

Note: The IPN message is always sent to your notification URL unless you have disabled the preference to receive IPN messages. Even though you have not enabled receiving IPN messages in your Profile or you have reset your preference by turning off IPN messages, PayPal still sends IPN messages to the notification URL you specify for a specific payment. IPN messages not sent because you disabled the preference in your Profile will appear in the IPN history when you enable receiving IPNs. After they appear in the history, you can choose whether to resend them.