PHP 5 class to listen for and handle Instant Payment Notifications (IPN) from PayPal.
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A PayPal Instant Payment Notification (IPN) class for PHP 5.

Use the IpnListener class in your PHP IPN script to handle the encoding of POST data, post back to PayPal, and parsing of the response from PayPal.


  • Switch between live and sandbox by setting the use_sandbox property.
  • Supports both secure SSL and plain HTTP transactions by setting the use_ssl property (SSL is recommended).
  • Supports both cURL and fsockopen network libraries by setting the use_curl property (cURL is recommended).
  • Verifies an HTTP "200" response status code from the PayPal server.
  • Get detailed plain text reports of the entire IPN using the getTextReport() method for use in emails and logs to administrators.
  • Throws various exceptions to differentiate between common errors in code or server configuration versus invalid IPN responses.

Getting Started

This code is intended for web developers. You should understand how the IPN process works conceptually and you should understand when and why you would be using IPN. Reading the PayPal Instant Payment Notification Guide is a good place to start.

You should also have a PayPal Sandbox Account with a test buyer account and a test seller account. When logged into your sandbox account there is an IPN simulator under the 'Test Tools' menu which you can used to test your IPN listener.

Once you have your sandbox account setup, you simply create a PHP script that will be your IPN listener. In that script, use the IpnListener() class as shown below. For a more thoroughly documented example, take a look at the example/ipn.php script in the source code.



$listener = new IpnListener();
$listener->use_sandbox = true;

try {
    $verified = $listener->processIpn();
} catch (Exception $e) {
    // fatal error trying to process IPN.

if ($verified) {
    // IPN response was "VERIFIED"
} else {
    // IPN response was "INVALID"



Documentation has not been generated yet, but, there are phpDocumentor style docstrings (comments) throughout ipnlistener.php which explain the important public properties and methods.

I have also written a more in-depth IPN tutorial on my blog: PayPal IPN with PHP

Known Issues


The processIpn() method throws the following exception:

cURL error: [52] GnuTLS recv error (-9): A TLS packet with unexpected length was received.


When cURL is compiled with GnuTLS the call to PayPal will fail if the SSL version is not explicitly set as a cURL option. Set the force_ssl_v3 property to force SSL 3:

$listener = new IpnListener();
$listener->force_ssl_v3 = true;

Note: force_ssl_v3 is now true by default


 PHP Warning: curl_setopt() [function.curl-setopt]: CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION 
 cannot be activated when in safe_mode or an open_basedir is set in ...


If you need PHP safe mode, you can disable CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION using the follow_location property.

$listener = new IpnListener();
$listener->follow_location = false;

Note: follow_location is now false enabled by default

Example Report

Here is an example of a report returned by the getTextReport() method. Create your own reports by extending the IpnListener() class or by accessing the data directly in your ipn script.

[09/09/2011 8:35 AM] - (curl)
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Fri, 09 Sep 2011 13:35:39 GMT
Server: Apache
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
Set-Cookie: c9MWDuvPtT9GIMyPc3jwol1VSlO=Ch-NORlHUjlmbEm__KG9LupR4mfMfQTkx1QQ6hHDyc0RImWr88NY_ILeICENiwtVX3iw4jEnT1-1gccYjQafWrQCkDmiykNT8TeDUg7R7L0D9bQm47PTG8MafmrpyrUAxQfst0%7c_jG1ZL6CffJgwrC-stQeqni04tKaYSIZqyqhFU7tKnV520wiYOw0hwk5Ehrh3hLDvBxkpm%7cYTFdl0w0YpEqxu0D1jDTVTlEGXlmLs4wob2Glu9htpZkFV9O2aCyfQ4CvA2kLJmlI6YiXm%7c1315575340;; path=/; Secure; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: cookie_check=yes; expires=Mon, 06-Sep-2021 13:35:40 GMT;; path=/; Secure; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: navcmd=_notify-validate;; path=/; Secure; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: navlns=0.0; expires=Thu, 04-Sep-2031 13:35:40 GMT;; path=/; Secure; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: Apache=; path=/; expires=Sun, 01-Sep-41 13:35:39 GMT
X-Cnection: close
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

test_ipn                 1
payment_type             instant
payment_date             06:34:51 Sep 09, 2011 PDT
payment_status           Completed
address_status           confirmed
payer_status             verified
first_name               John
last_name                Smith
payer_id                 TESTBUYERID01
address_name             John Smith
address_country          United States
address_country_code     US
address_zip              95131
address_state            CA
address_city             San Jose
address_street           123, any street
receiver_id              TESTSELLERID1
residence_country        US
item_name                something
item_number              AK-1234
quantity                 1
shipping                 3.04
tax                      2.02
mc_currency              USD
mc_fee                   0.44
mc_gross                 12.34
mc_gross_1               9.34
txn_type                 web_accept
txn_id                   51991334
notify_version           2.1
custom                   xyz123
charset                  windows-1252
verify_sign              Ah5rOpfPGo5g6FNg95DMPybP51J5AUEdXS1hqyRAP6WYYwaixKNDgQRR