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Paypal notify_url and return_url. Receiving variables without IPN using PHP

Hey everyone,

I've been working on integrating PayPal into my website, and I have a question about the notify_url and return_url parameters. If anyone can help me out, I'd really appreciate it!

So, here's my situation: I have a website where users can purchase products, and I want to use PayPal as my payment gateway. I've already set up the PayPal button on my website and everything is working fine, but I want to understand how to receive variables from PayPal without using IPN (Instant Payment Notification).

From what I've read, the notify_url is used to specify the URL where PayPal will send transaction-related IPN messages, while the return_url determines where the user is redirected to after completing the payment on the PayPal website.

I've seen some examples where people use the notify_url to receive transaction data and update their database accordingly. However, I'm not sure how exactly this works or how I can receive and process those variables in my PHP code without relying on IPN.

Can anyone explain how I can capture and handle those transaction variables sent by PayPal using only PHP? Are there any specific steps or code snippets that I need to include in my PHP file to achieve this?

Thanks in advance for your help!

All Replies



I've had some experience with PayPal integration as well, and I must say, IPN can definitely be a bit confusing at first. However, there is an alternative way to receive transaction data without relying on IPN or PDT.

What you can do is make use of PayPal's REST API. With the REST API, you can easily handle transactions and retrieve all the necessary information directly from PayPal without the need for IPN or PDT.

To implement this, you'll need to make use of PayPal's developer documentation and their PHP SDK. The SDK provides a bunch of pre-built functions that you can use to interact with the REST API.

First, you'll need to set up your PayPal developer account and obtain your client ID and secret. Once you have that, you can install the PayPal PHP SDK via composer or download the library manually.

Here's a simplified example to help you get started:

require 'vendor/autoload.php'; // Include the PayPal PHP SDK

use PayPal\Auth\OAuthTokenCredential;
use PayPal\Rest\ApiContext;

// Set up the PayPal API context
$clientId = 'YOUR_CLIENT_ID';
$clientSecret = 'YOUR_CLIENT_SECRET';
$apiContext = new ApiContext(
new OAuthTokenCredential($clientId, $clientSecret)

// Retrieve the payment details using PayPal REST API
$paymentId = $_GET['paymentId']; // Assuming you pass the payment ID in the return URL
$payment = \PayPal\Api\Payment::get($paymentId, $apiContext);

// Access different properties of the payment object to get transaction details
$transaction = $payment->getTransactions()[0];
$transactionId = $transaction->getRelatedResources()[0]->getSale()->getId();
$amount = $transaction->getAmount()->getTotal();

// Process the transaction variables as needed (update database, send confirmation email, etc.)

// Redirect the user to a thank you page or any other desired page
header("Location: https://www.yourwebsite.com/thank_you.php");

In this code snippet, replace `'YOUR_CLIENT_ID'` and `'YOUR_CLIENT_SECRET'` with your actual PayPal API credentials. Also, make sure you have the composer/autoload.php or the correct path to the PayPal SDK library.

With the use of the PayPal REST API, you can directly retrieve transaction details and process them in your PHP code without the need for IPN or PDT.

I hope this alternative solution helps you out. Let me know if you have any questions!


Hey there,

I've actually faced a similar situation recently, so I can definitely help you out! When it comes to receiving variables from PayPal without relying on IPN, there is an alternative method you can use. Instead of using IPN, you can utilize PayPal's PDT (Payment Data Transfer).

PDT works by sending transaction data to a return URL that you specify in the return_url parameter. This is where you can capture the transaction variables and process them in your PHP code. To set this up, you'll need to enable PDT in your PayPal account and generate a PDT token.

Once PDT is enabled, you can construct your return URL to include the token and any other relevant parameters you want to receive. For example:


In the above example, `yourwebsite.com/return.php` is the URL where you want to capture the transaction data, and `${transaction_id}`, `${amount}`, and `${pdt_token}` are placeholders for the variables you want to receive.

In your return.php file, you can access these variables through the `$_GET` superglobal array and process them as needed. Here's a basic example to get you started:

$tx = $_GET['tx']; // Get the PayPal transaction ID
$amt = $_GET['amt']; // Get the transaction amount
$token = $_GET['token']; // Get the PDT token

// Process the variables and update your database or perform any other relevant actions

// Redirect the user to a thank you page or any other desired page
header("Location: https://www.yourwebsite.com/thank_you.php");

Remember to replace `https://www.yourwebsite.com/thank_you.php` with the actual URL of your thank you page or any other destination you want to redirect the user to.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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