How To: Integrate PayPal With an Online Form

This article will outline how to take an existing online form and add the option to pay online using PayPal.  The same principles would apply when creating a form from scratch.

We have made it very easy for your association to enable online payments using PayPal, which is one of the least expensive ways to collect payments online.  All you need to do is:

1) Create a PayPal business account for the association, using PayPal's Website Payments Standard
2) Select a payment provider being used by the online form and enter the email address for the PayPal account
3) Add at least one question in the form which corresponds to a payment amount

And that's it!  We will go through these steps in detail below, also showcasing how the forms integrate with PayPal, and what information is stored when payments are received.


Signing Up For a PayPal Business Account

Note: You can skip this section if your association already has a business account with PayPal which includes Website Payments Standard.

Simply visit and click their signup button.  You will be asked for your country, language, and what type of account.  There are three account types to choose from - personal, premier, or business.  Be sure to selectbusiness.

The next page will ask you to select a payment solution, and in that list you will choose Website Payments Standard.  Website Payments Standard from Paypal is a solution that offers no monthly fees and very competitive per-transaction fees, which means that you'll only pay for the service when you use it.  The higher the volume of transactions you complete online, the lower your transaction fees will be.

The next page is the "Sign up for Website Payments Standard" form, which will ask for some of your business information, including the type of business, the name, address, and so on.  Complete this form as necessary for your association.

The last page in the process will ask you for an email address, password, and security questions.  We strongly recommend that the email address used is one from your domain name rather than somebody's personal email account.  For example, you may wish to create a new email user (Control Panel -> System Administration -> Email Administration -> Users) called and have that forward to somebody's real email address.

After creating your association's PayPal account, you will need to verify the email address used to create the PayPal account.  It can take a few minutes before this email arrives in your inbox, but it is very important to verify the email address in PayPal in order to collect credit card payments from individuals who do not have a PayPal account.  If you don't verify the email address, you will only be able to collect payments from those who have a PayPal account.  While that will still allow for payments of any kind to occur, some people may not wish to create an account with PayPal.

We also strongly recommend that you verify your business account on PayPal by attaching your association's bank account.  This will also allow for the seamless flow of money from your PayPal account directly into your association's bank account.


Setting up an Online Form to use PayPal

These instructions will assume that you already have your form created, but are also applicable when creating a form from scratch.

Let's assume that there is already an online form on your association's website and you would like to begin collecting payments are a part of the form.  Typically this will happen for a registration form of some kind, so this article will use a sample Tryout Registration form.  The existing form is shown in the thumbnail to the left (click to see the full-size image).

To add payment, simply go into the Control Panel -> Manage Site Content.  In the Advanced Features area, expand Online Forms and select the desired form.  In the toolbar at the top, click the Edit Form button to show the Form Details form.  At the bottom of that form, there is a drop-down asking for a payment provider.  After choosing one of the PayPal options you will be asked to provide the PayPal Business Email Address (required).  Then click Update.

Note: There are two options related to PayPal - optional and required.  The difference between the two is that on the submission confirmation page, the text will be "Payment is available" for optional, versus "Payment is required" that is visible for the person who completed the form.  In either case, the user needs to click the button in order to pay online - even if the required option is selected.

Now that the form is using one of the PayPal payment providers, there is one more step needed in order to start using the form.  In fact, if you were to view the form on the website at this point you would see a message that the form has not been setup correctly because no payment-related questions have been created (see thumbnail).
On the form editing page, click Add New Question in the toolbar.  On the Question Setup tab choose the PayPal Item(s) With Amount(s) option (at the bottom).  Just like any other question, set the text and (optionally) instructions.  Then click the Response Options tab.  This is similar to any multiple-response questions in the online forms, except that you can now add an "Amount" to correspond to each option in the list.  Click the thumbnails to the left to see an example of how to set this up.

Note: You need to have at least one question type in the form that has payment-related options, but you can also have more than one.  For example, you can use the first question to set a "base rate" - like $400 for *any* registration, and then use a second question to add a surcharge if needed, like early-bird discounts or late fees.  Upon completion of the form the amount(s) selected are added (or subtracted) to get a total, which is the amount that will be sent to PayPal.

After adding your question(s) that set the payment details, you can view the form on the website to see how it looks.  Click the thumbnail to the left to see our sample Tryout Registration Form.  Notice that we will automatically append any amounts that are attached to an item in the list, so long as the amount is not $0.  Your form is now ready to be used and will provide options for people to pay online using PayPal upon submitting the form.


How Payments are Submitted & Tracked in Your Site

After somebody has completed your form, they will be taken to a confirmation page like the one to the left.  This will happen for any form submission, and the page will detect whether or not the form is using a payment provider, as well as whether or not payment has been recorded for that submission.  If the form is using a payment provider and the submission has not yet been paid, then there will be a button on the page allowing the user to pay online.  The emails which get sent out when a form is submitted will also contain the link to the confirmation page.

Note: This is a very powerful feature since it will allow for the person who actually pays for the form to be a different person than the one who completed it.  For example, a player could complete the form and then email the link to the confirmation page to mom and/or dad, asking them to complete the payment process.

After clicking the Click Here to Pay Online button the user will be taken to the checkout page on PayPal for your association.  By default, PayPal will always ask people to login to their PayPal account.  However, assuming you have verified the PayPal email address for your association, there will be an option to "Pay with your debit or credit card as a PayPal guest".  The user then has the option to complete the form by providing their credit card information on PayPal's secure checkout page.

Then the user will be presented with a review page, with the option to add a note to the seller if they wish.

Upon confirmation, the user will be presented with the "Thanks for your order" page on PayPal.  They will also have a link available to return to your association's website.  Clicking that link will return the user back to the form submission confirmation page on your website.

In the background, PayPal has sent a message to your association's website with the details of the purchase (excluding credit card information), and the website will have stored that information related to the submission.  Because of that, when the user returns to your website the submission page will know that the payment has already occurred and will thank them instead of showing the button to pay online.  In addition, another email is triggered 


Viewing Submission Data & Payment Information

There are 11 pieces of information which will be stored by your website when PayPal sends the background message to the site when a payment is submitted.  This allows you to view the details of the submission along with the details of the payment on the same page, as well as in the exported information.  On the PayPal side, we are also sending it the ID of the submission as a custom variable and the invoice number.  This allows you to cross-reference the information both ways if needed.

To view the response on your website go to Control Panel -> Manage Site Content -> Reports -> Online Form Responses.  At the top of the page, choose the form you wish to view to get a list of all the responses for that form.  Click the "View" link next to a response in the list to view it online, and print if needed.  Note the 11 PayPal-related pieces of information which are attached to the submission.

The PayPal website will also show your current balance, along with the transaction within the Recent Activity list at the bottom of their account overview page.  You can view the details of the transaction in their site as well.



Issuing Refunds

If for some reason you need to provide a refund, rest assured that this is also possible.  The process for issuing a refund is started from the PayPal account overview page, where there is an option in the Order Status / Actions column of the recent activity list to Issue Refund.

The next page will ask how much to refund (default is the full amount) and provides the option to pass along notes to the buyer.  After clicking Continue you will be able to review the information and then issue the refund.

Just as it does when a purchase is completed, in the background PayPal will send another message back to your association's website with the details for the refund.  The submission is then updated with this new information, showing a Payment Status of "Refunded" and the amount showing the amount of the refund.  Keep in mind that this over-writes the existing information so if the refund amount was different than the original payment amount, you will need to keep track of that in PayPal.  An email is also re-triggered showing the refund.


We are currently accepting registration fees through PayPal on our website, however, a few that have registered and completed the online form have paid in person. How do I turn off the DAILY payment reminders for those who have already paid?
Colleen Buchanan (11/14/2016 at 12:08 PM)
Hi Colleen,

The website looks at the information contained in the "PayPal Transaction ID" field for each submission. If it's blank, then that'll trigger the reminder emails. If *anything* is in that box, then no email is sent. That box will be automatically filled by PayPal with a transaction ID upon a successful payment, but if somebody pays offline then what most people will do is add a note of some kind (ie Cheque #1234). But again, as long as something is in that box it won't send the email. Hope that helps,


Shaun Peet (11/21/2016 at 11:49 AM)