Using PayPal Standard IPN

  1. Edit and add paypal.standard.ipn to your INSTALLED_APPS and PAYPAL_RECEIVER_EMAIL:


    For installations on which you want to use the sandbox, set PAYPAL_TEST to True. Ensure PAYPAL_RECEIVER_EMAIL is set to your sandbox account email too.

  2. Update the database

  3. Create an instance of the PayPalPaymentsForm in the view where you would like to collect money. Call render on the instance in your template to write out the HTML.

    from paypal.standard.forms import PayPalPaymentsForm
    def view_that_asks_for_money(request):
        # What you want the button to do.
        paypal_dict = {
            "business": settings.PAYPAL_RECEIVER_EMAIL,
            "amount": "10000000.00",
            "item_name": "name of the item",
            "invoice": "unique-invoice-id",
            "notify_url": "" + reverse('paypal-ipn'),
            "return_url": "",
            "cancel_return": "",
        # Create the instance.
        form = PayPalPaymentsForm(initial=paypal_dict)
        context = {"form": form}
        return render(request, "payment.html", context)

    For a full list of variables that can be used in paypal_dict, see PayPal HTML variables documentation.


    <h1>Show me the money!</h1>
    <!-- writes out the form tag automatically -->
    {{ form.render }}
  4. When someone uses this button to buy something PayPal makes a HTTP POST to your “notify_url”. PayPal calls this Instant Payment Notification (IPN). The view paypal.standard.ipn.views.ipn handles IPN processing. To set the correct notify_url add the following to your

    from django.conf.urls import url, include
    urlpatterns = [
        url(r'^something/paypal/', include('paypal.standard.ipn.urls')),
  5. Whenever an IPN is processed a signal will be sent with the result of the transaction.

    The IPN signals should be imported from paypal.standard.ipn.signals. They are:

    • valid_ipn_received

      This indicates a correct, non-duplicate IPN message from PayPal. The handler will receive a paypal.standard.ipn.models.PayPalIPN object as the sender. You will need to check the payment_status attribute and other attributes to know what action to take.

    • invalid_ipn_received

      This is sent when a transaction was flagged - because of a failed check with PayPal, for example, or a duplicate transaction ID. You should never act on these, but might want to be notified of a problem.

    Connect the signals to actions to perform the needed operations when a successful payment is received (as described in the Django Signals Documentation).

    In the past there were more specific signals, but they were named confusingly, and used inconsistently, and are now deprecated. (See v0.1.5 docs for details)

    Example code:

    from paypal.standard.models import ST_PP_COMPLETED
    from paypal.standard.ipn.signals import valid_ipn_received
    def show_me_the_money(sender, **kwargs):
        ipn_obj = sender
        if ipn_obj.payment_status == ST_PP_COMPLETED:
            # Undertake some action depending upon `ipn_obj`.
            if ipn_obj.custom == "Upgrade all users!":

    The data variables that are returned on the IPN object are documented here:

    You need to pay particular attention to payment_status (docs). Use can use the ST_PP_* constants in paypal.standard.models to help.

  6. You will also need to implement the return_url and cancel_return views to handle someone returning from PayPal. Note that these views need @csrf_exempt applied to them, because PayPal will POST to them, so they should be custom views that don’t need to handle POSTs otherwise.

    For return_url, you need to cope with the possibility that the IPN has not yet been received and handled by the IPN listener you implemented (which can happen rarely), or that there was some kind of error with the IPN.


If you are attempting to test this in development, using the PayPal sandbox, and your machine is behind a firewall/router and therefore is not publicly accessible on the internet (this will be the case for most developer machines), PayPal will not be able to post back to your view. You will need to use a tool like to make your machine publicly accessible, and ensure that you are sending PayPal your public URL, not localhost.

Simulator testing

The PayPal IPN simulator at has some unfortunate bugs:

  • it doesn’t send the encoding parameter. django-paypal deals with this using a guess.

  • the default ‘payment_date’ that is created for you is in the wrong format. You need to change it to something like:

    23:04:06 Feb 02, 2015 PDT