Getting started with PayPal Sandbox

I need to figure out how to use the PayPal IPN thing. And for experimentation with PayPal things, you should of course not use live accounts. You could, but it’s probably not the best idea. Luckily, PayPal has something they call a Sandbox where you can create and manage fake PayPal accounts that you can experiment with.

It’s not very difficult to get started, but there was a couple of points that wasn’t totally clear to me at first. Therefore I thought I could document it here.

Sign Up for Access to the Sandbox Test Environment

First step is to sign up at

  1. Click the Sign Up Now button.
  2. Fill out your info.
  3. Click the Agree and Submit button.
  4. Check your mailbox for an account confirmation email.
  5. Click the link in that email.
  6. Done. Sign in to your account :)

Create a Sandbox Test Accounts

What you do from here of course depends a bit on what you need. But for what I was going to do (and probably what you are going to do) you at least need to create some accounts. Probably at least a personal account and a business account. Doing that is very simple. Just follow these steps for each account:

  1. Click on the Create a preconfigured buyer or seller account link on the Sandbox Home page or the Preconfigured link on the Test Accounts page.
  2. Choose if it’s a Buyer or Seller account.
  3. Leave/change the password and memorize or note it down.
  4. Select if you want a Credit Card and/or Bank Account set up
  5. Set the Account Balance, or leave it at zero.
  6. Hit Create Account.
  7. Done. You should see the account you created in the Test Accounts list.

Quite simple! There was however some things that I found a bit confusing and/or annoying:

  • You really do have to write down or memorize those test account passwords. You need them to sign in to the test accounts. I kind of assumed they would be listed on the Test Accounts page or just magically punched in when entering the test site from that page. But they were not…
  • On the Test Accounts page you will find, if you click View Details under your newly created account, that it says Credit Card and Bank Account: none. Even though you told it to add them when you registered them… Kind of confusing. Maybe not the case for you? The bank account seem to be added after verifying the account though, which brings us to the next point.
  • Even though you read the How to automatically create verified accounts link above the Create a Sandbox Test Account form and made sure the account had what was required for that, the account will still be listed as Unverified. I found that a bit confusing. Since it said “automatically” and all. Not quite sure what they meant with that. May be linked to the problem in the previous point? Either way, they can be added quite simply later.

How to Verify an Account

  1. Go to your Test Accounts page.
  2. Select the Unverified account.
  3. Click the Enter Sandbox Test Site button.
  4. A new window will pop up that looks very much like the actual, except it says PayPal Sandbox at the top and a text saying Test Site below it.
  5. E-mail of the Test Account should be filled out already.
  6. Enter the password (that you hopefully remember or noted down) and sign in.
  7. Go to the My Account Overview page.
  8. Below the “Welcome, Test User” header, it should say “Status: Unverified. Get verified”. Click on that “Get verified”-link.

From here the process might vary a bit depending on what country you selected for the test account. I selected United States (or rather, it was the default and I didn’t bother changing it).

  1. On the “Get verified by linking your
    bank account”-page, click on the “Link Bank Account”-button.
  2. Routing number and Account number should be filled out already.
  3. Fill out Bank name, if you feel like it
  4. Click Continue.
  5. Put whatever you feel like in the two “Confirm deposits”-fields.
  6. Click Submit.
  7. Done. It should say “Bank account confirmed”. Also, if you go back and refresh the Test Accounts page, it should say Verified on the account.

What was a bit confusing to me here was the “Confirm deposits”-part. I thought you had to enter some actual values that you should find somewhere. But yeah… turns out you can just put in whatever values you feel like in these test accounts. Tried to create a German account as well, and although the process was a bit different, it still was just a matter of putting in fake info when asked for anything.

Also tried to create a United Kingdom account, and that proved to be a bit more problematic. What happend was that I kept getting a “This bank account number is already registered with a different PayPal account”, no matter what I put in as the account number. So not sure what was going on there… Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough? Either way I already had to US accounts set up, so I just deleted it and ignored the problem :p

What to do next

Whatever you need to do! Fill out more business info for your business user, try to send money between the accounts, et cetera.

In my case I now have accounts I can use to try to figure out this PayPal IPN thing… might write about that later if I do 😛

  • Torleif

    If you are human and not good at coming up with fake, but valid, Credit Card numbers, you can use this handy generator:

  • Shoaib


  • prasvin

    Thanks. The ‘unverified’ to ‘verified’ part was what I was looking for.

  • Calista

    Thanks so much. PayPal’s instructions were detailed, but didn’t give me any confidence that SandBox was going to do what I needed; not to mention that some of their instructions were just plain confusing. You explained it all succinctly.