How to confirm if PayPal Reference transactions are active for WooCommerce Subscriptions.

Last Updated on: 29th September 2016, 10:22 pm

WooCommerce Subscriptions 2.0 introduced PayPal Reference Transactions. Settings this up takes some effort. Here are the official instructions on how to do so.

Once activated there is no clear indicator if it is working and if Subscriptions is picking up on it. Your WooCommerce PayPal Settings also still say “PayPal Standard” since the admin form is not modified. PayPal Reference Transaction is embedded silently and stays invisible, when viewing the WooCommerce settings.

In order to confirm whether PayPal Reference Transactions are active, do the following.

After initial setup:
Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Checkout > PayPal and you should see an admin notice where you can check if reference transactions is enabled : it will look something like:

When you click “Check PayPal Account” you will see a success notice if it’s working.

At any given time:
If you cannot see that notice then it’s likely that Reference Transactions was successfully enabled and Subscriptions has acknowledged that.
You confirm this by going into your database and looking for this key


in the wp-options table.

Found it there? Good then Reference Transactions are active.

For checking your database either access it via your PHPmyAdmin or use this mighty helpful plugin, called Adminer.

4 responses

  1. Your link to Adminer is broken! ;P

    1. Con Schneider Avatar
      Con Schneider

      Fixed ^^.

  2. Rudi van Heerden Avatar
    Rudi van Heerden

    Why there is no WP admin side confirmation once Paypal Reference Transactions are enabled is ridiculous. We kept checking our status and all of a sudden the notice disappeared at a later login without any feedback!

    Any Ideas as to how to disable Paypal Reference Transactions on the paypal side once set up? Or is that another “support request” to paypal..

    Just a heads up to anyone else going this route, once Paypal Reference Transactions are enabled on your paypal account, Paypal Standard no longer accepts guest checkout; your users will have to have a paypal account to checkout if that is your only payment gateway enabled. This was the deal breaker for us.

    1. Con Schneider Avatar
      Con Schneider

      Hi Rudi,

      Thanks for the input. I have not much love for PayPal, but a visual confirmation on the WP admin side might be worth mentioning to the good folks behind WooCommerce Subscriptions.
      Disabling Reference Transactions is most definitely another request to PayPal, all the best for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Con Schneider