To accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) debit card (EBT Card or Food Stamps Card) at your store or Farmer’s Market, you must get a SNAP permit from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). To get a permit, you must file an application with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) – which is the government agency in charge of the Food Stamps program. The SNAP permit is free but you have to follow a three step application process. We recommended that you apply online since it’s easier. Follow the instructions below for SNAP application for stores. The entire online application process takes about 15 minutes.
SNAP Application for Stores and Farmer’s Market
Step 1: Get a USDA Account
The first step in the application process is to set up and activate a USDA eAuthentication account. You can do that by clicking here. You must have a valid email address as USDA will send you a confirmation email. Once you receive the email, it includes a hyperlink to activate your account. If you do not have internet access, you can apply by phone by calling 1-877-823-4369 (toll-free). However, it is recommended that you apply online since by applying online, you can also check the real-time status of your application online using your USDA account.
Step 2: Complete an Application Online
The second step in the process is to complete the Store & Farmers’ Market Application, which is online. Click here to fill out the Online Application. You can start and stop the application process at any time and you are given up to 30 days to complete and submit the online application once you begin the process. That gives you plenty of time to gather documents you need to complete the application – just in case you start the application and realize you don’t have an information requested. You will need the following information to complete the application for your Store or Farmer’s Market:
- Owner’s name
- Home address
- Social security number
- Estimated sales
Once you complete the SNAP application for stores, you can click here to check the status.
Step 3: Submit Supporting Documentation to the FNS.
The final step in the process is to submit the requested supporting documentation to the FNS. You can mail the supporting documentation (and your paper application – if you decided to complete a paper application instead of online application) to
SNAP Retailer Service Center
USDA Food and Nutrition Service
PO Box 14500, Washington DC 20044.
Please Note: UPS and FedEx will not deliver to a PO Box Address so you have to mail your application using the United States Post Office. Be sure to pay for tracking so that you are 100% sure your application was delivered and received by the USDA.
If during the entire application process, you have any question or concern, you can call the the SNAP Retailer Service Center at 1-877-823-4369 (toll free).
What Happens Next?
Once you have completed the 3 step application process and submitted all the requested supporting documentation, your application will now be reviewed by the FNS. It usually takes up to 45 days to process an application once it’s complete. The FNS will review your application for accuracy, conducts a background check for past SNAP history, and evaluates your store for eligibility. FNS personal may pay an onsite visit to your store or Farmer’s market during the application review process. To learn about what your store needs to be eligible, click here.
If you’ve been approved to accept the SNAP card, congratulations! This is a great opportunity for your store to generate additional income. With that opportunity comes some responsibilities that are required of you as the store owner. You are responsible for the actions of your store employees regarding the SNAP program. Therefore, you should make sure your employees are thoroughly trained on every aspect of accepting SNAP benefit cards. Click here for training videos for your employees.
If you want evidence of how much trouble Food Stamp fraud can land you in, see this stores below – almost all of these cases happening in September 2013 alone:
Quincy storeowner sentenced to 2-plus years prison for EBT fraud
Over $600,000 seized in Phoenix food-stamp fraud probe
Providence merchants accused of stealing $3 million in food-stamp fraud
Dollar store owner admits to allowing more than $5 million in fraudulent food stamp purchases
If you don’t read anything else, watch the video. Law enforcement is serious about Food Stamp Fraud.