PayPal enrolment

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Note: A new recommended enrolment method for paying with PayPal is available - Enrolment on payment. Enrolment on payment provides the option of having multiple Payment gateways.

What is PayPal enrolment?

PayPal enrolment allows users to pay for courses and then be automatically enrolled.

What is the difference between PayPal enrolment and Enrolment on payment?

Enrolment on payment provides more features than PayPal enrolment, such as the option of having multiple Payment gateways.

The PayPal enrolment plugin uses PayPal's old API which still works, though PayPal encourages the use of the new API, as done for the PayPal payment gateway plugin.

PayPal enrolment can still be used but will be removed in a future version of Moodle.

For these reasons, it is recommended that you use Enrolment on payment rather than PayPal enrolment.

PayPal side setup

  1. Create a PayPal account at
    • Although not required, it may be wise to upgrade your account to "Premier" status and get "Verified".
  2. Set the encoding to UTF-8.
    • Go to Profile > Profile and settings > My selling tools > More selling tools > PayPal button language encoding
    • Make sure you have your website's language set to Western European Languages
    • Click the "More Options" button
    • Set encoding to "UTF-8" and let the same encoding be used for IPN, too.
  3. Enable instant payment notifications (IPN)
    • Go to Profile > Profile and settings > My selling tools > Getting paid and managing my risk > Instant payment notifications > Update
    • Turn IPN on and set the notification URL to your site's enrol/paypal/ipn.php (so it reads for example like

You may wish to log in to and experiment with PayPal Sandbox first. If doing do, put this to your config.php:

   $CFG->usepaypalsandbox = 1;

PayPal can provide more details, but as a high-level overview you will:

  1. Create "sandbox" accounts that are used for testing. At least one "BUSINESS" account is needed, and one "PERSONAL" account is needed, to represent both sides of a pretend transaction.
  2. These sandbox accounts will be registered/associated with the developer account for your REAL PayPal business account.
  3. When testing, in addition to the configuration flag above, remember to use the "BUSINESS" type sandbox account email address in the "PayPal business email" field in the PayPal plugin settings page. Do this instead of using your REAL business email address. Failure to use the pretend business account will result in an error message.

Enabling PayPal enrolment

How to set up payment for courses

An administrator can enable PayPal file enrolment as follows:

  1. Go to Site administration > Plugins > Enrolments > Manage enrol plugins and click the eye icon opposite PayPal. When enabled, it will no longer be greyed out. Manual enrolment must also be enabled, since the PayPal plugin requires it.
  2. Click the settings link, configure as required (see details of settings below), then click the 'Save changes' button.
  • PayPal business email - This setting is case sensitive and must exactly match that in PayPal
  • Default role assignment - This means the role that a new user will automatically be given in a course when they purchase access. Usually this would be "student" unless you have a special reason for choosing another role. As for other default settings, it may be overridden in individual courses.

Tip: If you wish to allow users to create their own accounts on your site then you need to set up Email based self registration.

Course settings for PayPal

Checking you have PayPal in your course

  1. If you are using the Boost theme, from Course administration, click Participants and from the dropdown select Enrolment methods. If you are using a different theme, go to Course administration > Users > Enrolment methods
  2. If you do not see PayPal, use the pull down menu "Add method" and select PayPal. If you are a course teacher, your admin will need to allow you the capability enrol/paypal:config in order for you to add this method.
  3. Make sure PayPal has its "eye" opened:


Note: Make sure you don't have Self enrolment enabled as this would allow users to access the course without paying. If you do need some users to self enrol for free, then add an Enrolment key in the self enrolment settings.

Setting a price for your course

  1. In Course Administration > Users > Enrolment methods, click the edit/hand/pen icon to the right of the PayPal option.
  2. Optional: Give a name to this enrolment method if you wish in "Custom Instance name"
  3. Ensure that "Allow PayPal enrolments" is set to "yes"
  4. In "Enrol cost", type in the cost of your course and in "Currency" choose your currency.
  5. Usually you would leave the "Assign role" as "student" unless you have a very special reason for allowing your users to enrol as, say, editing teachers etc.
  6. Choose an enrolment period and/or start/end dates if desired.
  7. Click the "Save changes" button.


What the new user sees

When a new user clicks on your course link, they will see a message inviting them to go to PayPal to purchase access to the course. In the list of courses, PayPal courses have a "P" icon next to them.

Message inviting user to pay via PayPal
PayPal course listed with "P" icon

PayPal capabilities

See also