PayPal IPN Issues

This page is focused on Failed IPNs. You are usually notified about this via an e-mail from PayPal.

Once you have read all the information below and have followed the outlines steps, if you still have an issue please open a support ticket and will be able to assist you. Please ensure that you include the details.


When an IPN communication fails, it can be due to a wide range of issues, a few of these have been listed below:

  1. PayPal system error causing IPN to show false negatives. This is when PayPal experience an internal issue that causes the IPN to show as failed when in reality, it actually worked. Further details of this issue are provided further down this post.
  2. Network issues between PayPal and your website. This can be caused by connections timing out on one or more nodes connecting PayPal to your website.
  3. Addressing error on your website, causing an error to be given when the IPN communication attempts to open the IPN script within WP-Member. This happens due to a misconfiguration within the WordPress site, .htaccess file or due to an error with your hosts server. In most cases, the error you would see in this instance would be an “error 404 page not found”. This does not necessarily mean that the page does not exist, it means that the system could not locate the page and is usually due to an issue with the configuration
  4. Server error due to the server being turned off, in the process of restarting or due to a misconfiguration of the server and settings. In most cases, the error you would see in this instance would be an “error 500 internal server error”.


Now, lets move onto checking your PayPal settings and we will then take steps to analyse the issue later in this article.

You should first login to your PayPal account, click on “profile” and then click on “Instant Payment Notification”. Check that the IPN is enabled / active.

If you are using PayPal Standard Gateway then you don’t need to set an IPN URL in your PayPal account, because the IPN URL is sent automatically by WP-Member with each transaction.

If you are suing PayPal Express Checkout, then you will need to set the IPN URL in your PayPal account. To find the correct IPN URL to enter, please log in to your WordPress wp-admin where WP-Member is installed and go to “Memberships -> Settings -> Gateways -> PayPal” – there you will find the proper PayPal IPN URL to enter in your PayPal account.

If you were already using the IPN address detailed above, you should move on to the next step detailed below. If you have only just changed the IPN address, you should monitor your PayPal account and only proceed to the next step detailed below if you continue to receive e-mails from PayPal notifying you that IPN communications have failed.


We will now show you how you can find the error messages that are causing you IPN communications to fail so that you can then diagnose what is causing these errors and can begin rectifying the issue.

  1. Login to your PayPal account.
  2. Hover your mouse over the “history” button in the menu at the top of the screen and select “IPN History” from the drop down menu. This will open a page called “Instant Payment Notification (IPN) history”.
  3. The default display shows all IPN communications, we only want to look at the failed IPN communications. Select “Failed” from the drop down menu under “Delivery status” and click on search.
  4. Here you will be able to see all failed IPN communications and can click on the “Message ID” to load the details of the IPN attempt. Here you will see the error that was generated next to “HTTP response code”. We have listed the most common error codes below so that you know what you can do next.

error 404 – page not found: This error is due to your website being unable to load the file that was requested. In almost all cases, this is due to the .htaccess or WordPress settings that deal with addresses such as permalinks, or can be due to settings within your hosting account blocking the loading of certain addresses. You should visit your IPN address in your browser to make sure that it displays a blank page and not any errors. Contact your hosting company and ask them to check your hosting error log for errors to see what is causing this issue as this may shed light on why this error is being displayed only on some IPN communications. Almost all hosts will set errors to be hidden, so you may not be able to see the error even when one is generated.

error 500 – Internal server error: This error is due to a configuration issue within your server or hosting settings. As the error states, it is an internal server error which is resulting in the page requested by the IPN communication to fail to load or even be processed. Contact your hosting company and ask them to check your hosting error log for errors to see what is causing this issue as this may shed light on why this error is being displayed only on some IPN communications.

The reason we ask you to contact your hosting company is because these errors should be logged by them and should provide a much better idea of what is causing the error to be displayed. It also gives your host a chance to check your account for issues that may be causing the error to display. As you most likely have successful IPN communications, the error is only being displayed sometimes and this would suggest that the issue may relate to your hosting company. If the error was within WordPress or WP-Member, they are mostly static files and as such you would expect the error to remain the same on all IPN communications and not just a minority of them. Once your hosting company have checked your hosting account and provided a copy of your error log, please forward it to us so that we can tell you what is causing the error.


Once you have completed the above steps and your issue is not resolved, please contact our support department, making sure that you include the details below.

  1. A list of the failed IPNs with the time and dates that the IPNs were attempted and failed as well as the IPN message IDs from your IPN History.
  2. Usernames that are associated with the failed IPNs. Please make sure that you show which failed IPNs are for each user that has not been activated.

Troubleshooting Tips

Please follow our troubleshooting tips for solution to common problems, or to help diagnose the problem.
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