We've been using recurring payments with the 'PayPal - Website Payments Pro' processor for several years now. In the past we'd see an occasional delay between the user's submitting the payment on a CiviContribute page and the transaction being recorded as "Completed" in CiviCRM. The delay would be minutes or hours.

Recently (say, last 2-3 months), we've seen delays as much as several days; two recent examples: the contributions were initiated (and thus the recurring subscriptions were created in PayPal) on 4/1, but PayPal only actually processed the first payment on 4/6.

Found the following, poking around PayPal's knowledge base: https://www.paypal.com/us/smarthelp/article/why-are-some-of-my-initial-payments-delayed-when-i-use-my-recurring-payments-profile-faq3682

Anyone else experiencing this? Any way around it?

(Reason this is important to us is we provide discounts on events for members, and folks often sign up for membership right before registering for an event, and they don't receive their discount if the payment processing is delayed.) Thanks for any tips.

1 Answer 1


If it's a 5-day delay, it's almost certainly because their card was declined the first time. 5 days is the default delay when a card is declined on a recurring payment. It then tries again 5 days later, at which point the payment isn't retried. That used to cancel the subscription, but now it goes into a "missed payments" field on the subscription.

You should be able to check the subscription for an explanation of what happened in the period between the initial attempt and the successful one.

  • Thank you, Jon. Where would one investigate the history of attempted payments? Looking at the activity record and the subscription record, I don't see this anywhere (only when the subscription was created, and then the successful payment activity itself). Next best thing I can think of is pinging PayPal support. Also, I hope you're right with this, though I'm a bit skeptical that we'd see that many failed payments that would succeed only 5 days later, using the same credit card.
    – MtnPavlas
    Apr 6, 2021 at 20:20
  • I was able to dig something out of the IPN messages; for this particular example, there was one IPN for the subscription profile creation, followed by another one that says the payment got skipped, but doesn't say why. I'll post the IPN as a new comment and will shorten it a bit due to character limit. Once again, thanks for any tips.
    – MtnPavlas
    Apr 6, 2021 at 20:39
  • payment_cycle=Yearly&txn_type=recurring_payment_skipped&...&next_payment_date=03:00:00 Apr 06, 2021 PDT&...&initial_payment_amount=0.00&...&m=contribute&c=48530&r=3691&b=56280&p=1&...&time_created=21:19:59 Apr 01, 2021 PDT&...&period_type= Regular&payer_status=unverified&...&...&product_type=1&...&amount_per_cycle=62.10&profile_status=Active&...&notify_version=3.9&amount=62.10&outstanding_balance=0.00&recurring_payment_id=I-0GX2MTA7RK01&...&ipn_track_id=91fe894c4b8fc
    – MtnPavlas
    Apr 6, 2021 at 20:39
  • @MtnPavlas Please edit your question to include information like your last comment; it's more visible, easier to read (you can format it) and there's no character limit. However, in this case the IPN is of no use. The payment was skipped; that's on PayPal's side, not CiviCRM's. You're right that I can't find the reason for it being skipped; I confused the PayPal UI with Stripe's. You would need to raise this issue with PayPal Apr 7, 2021 at 16:07

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