EBT or Electronic Benefit Transfer serves to be a payment system that has been designed to allow the respective recipients having assistance under SNAP or Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program. This also includes the TANF or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and other types of aid programs that are sponsored by the State and Federal governments for making the required purchase of goods as well as services. EBT is known to replace the previous food stamp programs. It is known to allow the recipients get access to a secure and convenient magstripe card that remains quite similar to the PIN-based debit card for making the respective purchases.
For merchants out there, the ability to accept EBT payments allows businesses to expand the respective customer base. Moreover, the overall processing costs for the respective EBT transactions tend to be lower in comparison to that of the debit card or credit card transactions. However, you can expect some paperwork while having the respective equipment programmed for accepting the given kinds of payments.
It is important to keep in mind that while the SNAP program is known to apply to primarily grocery stores, some restaurants, and farmer’s markets, the EBT system is known for supporting authorized retail purchases by the respective TANF recipients. It can also be said that if you happen to be a retail merchant, you would consider adding EBT payments to the respective merchant accounts for supporting the customers who make use of the given payment method.
In this post, we will help you know all about whether or not your business can benefit from accepting EBT and SNAP as the payment methods.
Regulatory Requirements for the Acceptance of EBT Payments
Like the government-sponsored programs available out there, you will have to know about specific bureaucracy before you get to accept the EBT payments out there. However, the overall registration process turns out to be quite straightforward and would not require any amount of effort on the part of business owners. As a matter of fact, you can even complete all the registration processes online on the go.
The SNAP program gets administered by the FNS (Food and Nutrition Service) under the Department of Agriculture in the United States of America. Therefore, the first requirement is to obtain the permit –referred to as the SNAP permit or the FNS permit. The given permits are made available to the qualified businesses that are known to meet the specific statutory criteria while submitting the application with proper documents. To be qualified for obtaining the SNAP permit, the business is expected to meet at least one of the criteria as mentioned below:
- The business is selling staple food under one of the categories as –(1) cereals, breads, and grains, (2) dairy products, (3) poultry, fish, and meat, and (4) fruits & vegetables. At least of the given categories are known to include perishable items.
- One or more of the given staple foods should account for more than 50 percent of the gross retail stores.
To know whether or not you are qualified, you can head over to the official FNS website. Here, you can get started with the process. Before submitting the application for obtaining the SNAP permit, you will be required to establish the eAuthentication account with the help of the FNS for verifying your identity. The given series of steps can be easily completed in a few minutes on the online platform.
Once you have obtained the e-Authentication account, you will be required to fill out as well as submit both the application & the required supporting documents. Once the approval of the e-Authentication account has been completed, you will be provided 30 days for completing and submitting the application along with all supporting documents. The application can be easily completed online in around 15 minutes. However, it is known to ask for abundant information about the respective business. Some of the supporting documents are also required, including:
- A copy of the ongoing business license
- The bank name and address
- Copies of the driver’s license, photo identification, and passport
- Copies of the Social Security Cards –mentioning all partners, officers, owners, shareholders, and the respective spouses
- Information about the merchant account provider –including name, address, phone number, and website
The given set of information can be uploaded online. Otherwise, you can also consider printing out the same and mailing it to FNS. Whatever might be the case, the approval process is known to take around 45 days to get completed. During the given duration, you will not be able to accept the respective SNAP payments.
When you are done with the registration process while getting the approval for obtaining the SNAP permit, you will be issued the special 7-digit FNS Account Number for identifying your business as FNS-approved.
Here are some additional requirements that you should consider for the SNAP permits:
- Along with the conventional grocery stores, SNAP permits are also known to be issued to the farmer’s markets and qualified farm stands.
- If you happen to be a MSO (Multiple Store Owner), then you cannot make use of the online application process. A dedicated FNS representative will be working directly with your firm for ensuring that your permit gets approved. The FNS is known to define the MSO as a business entity that owns 10 or even more retail food stores that are eligible.
- Only food items that are approved can be purchased with the help of SNAP funds. Items including restaurant food, hot food, alcoholic beverages, pet food, and non-food items are not given allowance.
If you happen to be in the business line that can accept EBT payments under the respective TANF or SNAP programs, then there is no need for signing up for the account. The overall processing costs tend to be minimal. Moreover, most businesses out there can look forward to using the equipment that they possess already for accepting the given type of payments.