Website Payments Pro Recurring Payments


Important: PayPal isn't accepting new users for this feature, and we require existing users to upgrade to our Advanced Debit and Credit solution that supports EMV 3DS (3DS 2.0) for PSD2. Our Advanced Debit and Credit solution enables highly customizable custom-card fields and reduced PCI Compliance requirements. For more information, see Set up advanced credit and debit card payments.

You can set up a recurring payment to handle a subscription, billing agreement, or other payment that occurs on a fixed schedule. Recurring payments support debit or credit cards.

Integration steps

1.RequiredGet purchase information from the buyer.
2.RequiredCreate a recurring payments profile.
3.OptionalReview the recurring payments profile.
4.OptionalHandle declined payments.
5.UK MerchantsPrepare for 3-D Secure.
6.OptionalReview recurring payments additional features.

Get purchase information from the buyer

To set up a recurring payment for a buyer, get the required information from the buyer, including the billing amount and the buyer's credit card information. Then create a recurring payments profile with the required information.

PayPal automatically queues recurring payments based on the billing start date, billing frequency, and billing amount.

Payments continue until one of these conditions occur:

  • You cancel the profile.
  • The profile expires.
  • The number of failed payments exceeds the maximum number of allowed failed payments.

Note: You can view profile details or cancel a profile from your PayPal account. A buyer can also cancel a recurring payments profile. For more information, see handle declined payments.

Activity reports for recurring payments (subscriptions) are available in the Activity and Reports pages.

Note: If you offer free-trial periods or recurring subscription payments, you can use card verifications to verify a buyer's card before you create a recurring payment.

Create a recurring payments profile

To create a recurring payment profile, call CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile API operation (NVP, SOAP). Include all required credit card data in the CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile request. Do not include a value in the TOKEN field.

Note: PayPal will implement 3-D Secure authentication for recurring payments in September 2019. Merchants in the UK who need to perform Strong Customer Authentication can use the information in Prepare for 3-D Secure to plan for their 3-D Secure integration updates.

The following table lists the fields that are required in the CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile request for recurring payments using Direct Payment.

EXPDATECreditCardDetails.ExpMonth and CreditCardDetails.ExpYear

The CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile response contains a Profile ID, which is an encoded string that uniquely identifies the recurring payments profile.

As with all direct payments, PayPal is completely invisible to your buyer throughout the purchase. PayPal does not send an email receipt to the buyer, nor will the buyer's credit card statement indicate that PayPal processed the payment.

To learn more about recurring payments advanced integration features, see recurring payments additional features.

Sample: creating a recurring payments profile

The following sample code demonstrates how to create a recurring payments profile, including the credit card number, the billing address, and the payment amount. The request charges the customer $10 a month for a racquetball club membership.

The following minimum required information is required:

  • Profile start date The start date of billing.
  • Description The description of the profile.
  • Billing period Time period between billings, such as monthly.
  • Billing frequency Frequency of charges. This is a numeric value and for once per month is set to 1.
  • Amount The amount the buyer will pay in a payment period, such as 10.00.


Endpoint URL:
HTTP method: POST
POST data:
&PROFILESTARTDATE=2012-05-11T00:00:00Z    #Billing date start, in UTC/GMT format
&DESC=RacquetClubMembership    #Profile description - same value as a billing agreement description
&BILLINGPERIOD=Month    #Period of time between billings
&BILLINGFREQUENCY=1    #Frequency of charges
&AMT=10    #The amount the buyer will pay in a payment period
&MAXFAILEDPAYMENTS=3    #Maximum failed payments before suspension of the profile
&ACCT=4641631486853053    #The credit card number
&CREDITCARDTYPE=VISA    #The type of credit card
&CVV2=123    #The CVV2 number
&COUNTRYCODE=US    #The country code, e.g. US
&CURRENCYCODE=USD    #The currency, e.g. US dollars
&EXPDATE=052015     #Expiration date of the credit card



The call response contains an ActiveProfile status, indicating that the customer will be billed, and a PROFILEID value. Save the PROFILEID value for use later in managing the recurring payments profile.

For field descriptions and other options for recurring payments, see the CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile (NVP, SOAP) reference pages. For information about notifications, see Instant Payment Notification.

Review the recurring payments profile

You can optionally review your recurring payments profile. Because you created the profile in the PayPal sandbox environment, the following steps are for the PayPal sandbox site.

  1. Log in to the PayPal sandbox as the test merchant account that will receive the recurring payments.
  2. Under View Transactions, click All Account Activity.
  3. In the most recent recurring payment row in the All Activity table, click Details.
  4. Review the details of the profile, which include the profile ID, next payment date, amount due per cycle, and other information.

Handle declined payments

Some card issuers send a one- to two-digit payment advice code in the PaymentAdviceCode response field of a declined payment transaction.

Both Visa and Mastercard issuers send payment advice codes. As a merchant, you must capture these codes to determine why the payment was declined. For example, the card might be expired or terminated, the account has insufficient funds, or the buyer wants to cancel a recurring payment.

The following is an example of a transaction response containing a payment advice code:


See payment advice codes on the response codes reference page.

(Optional) Prepare for 3-D Secure

PayPal will implement 3-D Secure authentication for recurring payments in September 2019, and you can use the information in this section to plan for your 3-D Secure 2.0 integration updates.

For UK merchants, Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), a requirement of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), goes into effect on September 14, 2019. With SCA, cardholder-initiated transactions will require two forms of authentication in order to be processed. The following actions for recurring payments are considered cardholder-initiated and require the transaction to be authenticated using SCA:

  • Creating a recurring payment profile
  • Updating a recurring payment profile

Transactions that occur outside of those two actions, like regularly scheduled subscription payments, are merchant-initiated transactions and don't require additional authentication through SCA.

The steps for creating or updating a payment profile with SCA are generally the same as they have been, with the addition of an authentication step and a new error code that PayPal returns for SCA-related transaction failures:

  • Creating a recurring payment profile by calling CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile to provide transactional information and 3-D Secure authentication data returned in the previous step.

    If the transaction succeeds, CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile returns a Profile ID you can use for updating the profile in the future. Also, the buyer is charged the subscription amount on the start date for the frequency and duration indicated in the profile.

  • Updating a recurring payment profile by calling UpdateRecurringPaymentsProfile to provide the new card information, the existing Profile ID for the customer (returned by the original CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile call), and the 3-D Secure authentication data returned in the previous step.

    If the update succeeds, UpdateRecurringPaymentsProfile returns the same Profile ID you passed.

3-D Secure guidance for specific recurring payment scenarios

PayPal provides the following guidance for 3-D Secure authentication in these specific recurring payment scenarios:

Recurring Payment Scenario3-D Secure Recommendation
Fixed amount from 1st timeAuthorize using fixed amount
Fixed trial amount (including zero), trial period, and then fixed amount for subsequent transactionsAuthorize using fixed amount
Setup fee greater than recurring amount, then fixed amount for subsequent transactionsAuthorize using setup fee amount

Additional fields for CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile and UpdateRecurringPaymentsProfile

When PayPal implements 3-D Secure authentication for recurring payments, the following 3-D Secure fields will be added to CreateRecurringPaymentsProfile and UpdateRecurringPaymentsProfile.

NVP Field SOAP Field Description
AUTHSTATUS3DS AuthStatus3ds Optional field. Set this to the returned PAResStatus value.
MPIVENDOR3DS MpiVendor3ds Optional field. Set this to Enrolled.
CAVV Cavv Set to the returned Cavv value.
ECI3DS Eci3ds Set to the returned EciFlag value.
XID Xid Set to the returned Xid value.
DSTRANSACTIONID DSTransactionId Unique transaction identifier assigned by the Directory Server (DS) to identify a single transaction.

Note: Required for Mastercard Identity Check transaction in Authorization. Available only in EMV 3DS (3DS 2.0) transactions.
THREEDSVERSION ThreeDSVersion This field contains the 3DS version that was used to process the transaction.
Possible values:
  • 1.0.2
  • 2.1.0
  • 2.2.0
Note: Required for Mastercard Identity Check transaction in Authorization.

Recurring Payments additional features

For information about recurring payments API operations, see the Recurring Payments section of the Website Payments Pro API reference. This list briefly describes these features:

Additional information


Learn about reference transactions.