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How to accept EBT payments government benefits

Government assistance programs now come in the form of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. How to  accept ebt payments you ask? Instead of paper coupons, most states use EBT to distribute all cash benefits such as unemployment, grocery, and housing assistance. Partnering with industry vendors ensures that the EBT solution is fully integrated into key third-party software packages, which makes processing seamless and simple for all parties involved.

Supermarkets are well aware of how important customers on public assistance are — they can represent a significant percentage of their total transactions. Merchants not enabled to accept payment through assistance programs run the risk of losing customers to those that do.

Help Your Business

  • Increase customer base

  • Improve cash flow

  • Simplify the daily deposit reconciliation process

  • Minimize exposure to fraud

  • Reduce customer wait time in checkout lines

Help Your Customers

  • Make payments safely and securely

  • Feel comfortable paying with government benefits


  • May utilize existing equipment

  • Funds are deposited electronically within just a few days

  • A simplified process for daily deposit reconciliation

Ready to accept EBT at your business?

Understanding EBT: Your comprehensive guide

In today’s digital era, the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system stands as a testament to the U.S. government’s commitment to facilitating seamless transactions for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. As a SNAP participant, you can effortlessly pay for your groceries using SNAP benefits, a process that has been streamlined and adopted across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam since June 2004.

Key Highlights:

EBT Overview: An electronic system enabling SNAP participants to pay for food using SNAP benefits.
Nationwide Adoption: Implemented across all 50 states and territories since June 2004.
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT): A special provision offering benefits akin to SNAP to children affected by COVID-related school disruptions.
Regulatory Compliance: P-EBT benefits are regulated to prevent program violations, ensuring integrity and transparency.

Additional Resources:

EBT by State: Access the latest EBT status report and find state-specific EBT websites.
Contact Information: Reach out to your EBT vendor or the SNAP Retailer Service Center for assistance.
Retailer Notices: Stay updated with the latest notices and guidelines for SNAP retailers.


How to accept EBT payments and become a SNAP retailer

Your step-by-step guide

In the dynamic landscape of retail, embracing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can be a game-changer for your business. Here, we delineate the straightforward process to become a SNAP authorized retailer, a journey that promises not only an expansion of your customer base but also a seamless integration into your existing operations.

Step 1: Understand the Sole Authorization Source

Embarking on this journey, it’s pivotal to recognize that the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) stands as the sole entity authorizing retailers for SNAP. This centralized approach ensures a streamlined and secure process, safeguarding retailers from potential scams associated with external entities.

Step 2: Navigate the Online Application

Transitioning into a SNAP retailer is remarkably simple and cost-free. You can initiate this transition by visiting the official website, where the online application can be completed in a mere 15 minutes. Moreover, this platform allows you to track the status of your application, providing transparency and ease of mind.

Step 3: Await Your SNAP Permit

Before you can commence accepting EBT payments, obtaining authorization from FNS is a prerequisite. This milestone is marked by the receipt of a SNAP Permit, a document encapsulating vital details such as the store name, location, and the FNS number, a critical component for subsequent steps.

Step 4: Choose Your POS Equipment

Upon securing authorization, the next stride involves selecting your Point of Sale (POS) equipment. Retailers are encouraged to liaise with their current processor to facilitate the integration of EBT payment capabilities into their existing systems. Additionally, a comprehensive list of vendors offering EBT equipment and services can be found here, aiding retailers in making an informed decision that aligns with their business needs.


Step 5: Seek Assistance If Necessary

Embarking on this journey doesn’t mean you’re alone. For any queries or assistance, the SNAP Retailer Service Center remains at your disposal, reachable at 1-877-823-4369.

How to Become Eligible to Accept EBT Payments:

A comprehensive guide

Are you considering expanding your business to accept EBT payments? To become a SNAP-authorized retailer and tap into a broader customer base, your business needs to fulfill certain criteria. Here, we outline the key requirements that will qualify your business to accept EBT payments, enhancing your market reach and customer satisfaction.

Step 1: Understanding the Staple Food Categories

To secure a SNAP permit, it’s essential that your business specializes in offering a diverse range of staple foods. These staple foods are categorized into four main groups:

Dairy Products: Including milk, cheese, and other dairy-related items.
Breads and Grains: Offering a variety of breads, cereals, and grains to cater to different dietary preferences.
Fruits and Vegetables: Ensuring a fresh and diverse selection of fruits and vegetables to promote healthy eating habits.

Meats and Fishes: Providing a range of meat and fish options to meet the protein needs of your customers.

Your business should stock products from at least two of these categories, with a focus on offering perishable items to ensure freshness and quality.

Step 2: Achieving a Significant Percentage in Gross Retail Sales

Alternatively, your business can qualify for a SNAP permit if it demonstrates that more than 50% of its gross retail sales come from one or more categories of staple foods. This indicates a strong focus on providing essential food items, making your business a valuable addition to the SNAP program.

By meeting one of the above criteria, your business can successfully qualify to accept EBT payments, paving the way for increased customer engagement and business growth.

How Do I Apply to Accept Benefits?

To apply to accept SNAP benefits at your store or market locations, follow these steps:


  1. Get a USDA Account

    • Before you start your application, register for a USDA eAuthentication account and activate your USDA eAuthentication account.

  2. Complete the SNAP Application

    • If you own 10 or more stores, consider whether you are a Multi-Store Owner (MSO).

    • Complete the SNAP application.

    • Note: After starting this application, you have 30 days to complete and submit it. If your application is not submitted within 30 days, it will be deleted. Before starting this application, ensure that you have the names, home addresses, and Social Security Numbers for each store owner, and sales data for the store.

  3. Submit Supporting Documentation

    • Your application is not complete until you submit the required supporting documents. Instructions for submitting your documentation are provided at the end of the application.

  4. Check Application Status

    • After you submit your supporting documents to FNS, you can check the status of your application in real time.

    • FNS will process your application and contact you if they need any further information. If you have additional questions, please call the SNAP Retailer Service Center at 1-877-823-4369.

  5. Other Resources

    • What is EBT?

    • Retailer Notice on IRS Rule

Please note that this application is specifically for Retail Food Stores and Farmers’ Markets that wish to accept SNAP-EBT. If you are not a Retail Food Store or Farmers’ Market, do not complete this application. Instead, call the SNAP Retailer Service Center at the number mentioned above. If you are a retailer that wants to accept SNAP-EBT on your website or mobile app, do not complete this application. Instead, follow the requirements listed on the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot website.

Get started with EBT processing

Ask us how we can help with all your EBT and Snap Processing with Blackstone Merchant Services. We ready to help you set up and process with EBT/Snap.

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