Commercial Frequently Asked Questions
1. Iím a retailer that would like to be able to accept EBT food benefits at my store. What do I need to do?
Call the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) at (877) 823-4369 and ask for an application or visit them online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/register.htm.
2. Iím purchasing a store that currently accepts EBT and would like to continue to be able to accept EBT. Can I use the existing license or get it transferred to me?
When a business changes ownership, the new owner must apply for a new license. Call the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) at (877) 823-4369 to request an application or apply online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/register.htm
3. Do I have to buy special equipment to be able to participate in EBT?
No. The state provides equipment free of charge to FNS-authorized retailers; however, this equipment processes EBT transactions only. You can choose to use your existing debit/credit POS equipment as long as it has a PIN pad.
4. If I already have debit/credit equipment, can it do EBT also?
As long as your equipment has a PIN pad, it can process EBT transactions. Just call your third-party processor and ask the processor to add the California EBT bank identification number (BIN). We recommend you include the BINs for all other states to enable you to process transactions for cardholders from these states.
5. Iím a retailer authorized to accept SNAP benefits and I already process SNAP transactions. How do I get the free state-provided EBT equipment?
In order to qualify, you must transact at least $100 per month in SNAP redemption. If you do qualify or you are not sure, call the Retailer Helpline at (866) 328-4212 to request EBT-only equipment paperwork.
6. Is there a fee to process EBT food benefits?
A retailer incurs no fee using the state-provided EBT equipment. Retailers using their own equipment will be charged a fee by their third-party processor.
7. Can a retailer charge a fee to customers for EBT food benefit transactions?
No. Federal regulations prohibit any SNAP retailer from charging a fee for the redemption of EBT food benefits.
8. As a cash-only EBT retailer, can I charge a fee?
Surcharges are allowed for EBT cash transactions. If you choose to surcharge, you should treat your EBT customers the same as your debit customers. However, many retailers choose not to surcharge EBT customers.
9. What if the state-provided equipment is not working?
Call the Retailer Helpline at (866) 328-4212.
10. What if I have problems processing an EBT transaction on my commercial (not state-provided) equipment?
Contact your third-party processor or equipment provider.
11. I run a farmers market or produce stand and would like to accept EBT cards. What do I do?
Call the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) at (916) 654-1396.
12. Must an EBT card be present for a key-entered EBT transaction?
Yes, the EBT card must be present for key-entered transactions. It is incumbent upon the food retailer to request service for any malfunctioning equipment through the retailerís commercial service provider or through the Retailer Helpline at (866) 328-4212. Likewise, an EBT cardholder needs to obtain a replacement card if the EBT card is damaged.
13. Can a retailer charge sales tax on items purchased with EBT food benefits?
No, a retailer cannot charge state or local sales taxes on eligible items purchased with EBT food benefits. The retailer may not include the sales tax in the purchase prices as a hidden cost.
14. Can bottle deposits (CRV) be paid with EBT food benefits?
EBT food benefits can cover the entire cost of items such as eligible drinks in returnable bottles, where the price includes a specific bottle deposit. This is true even if the deposit is not included in the shelf price. CRV is payable with EBT food benefits. Some retailers have reported seeing EBT customers who have purchased milk in a high-deposit bottle simply pour out the milk and return to collect the deposit in cash. Retailers who see this happen may refuse to sell the item to the associated EBT customer, as this is considered a type of trafficking by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
15. If I don't qualify to accept EBT Food Benefits at my store, can I still accept EBT Cash Benefits?
For information about how to accept EBT Cash Benefits at your store, contact us
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