Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called SNAP, use an electronic benefits transfer card, known as an EBT, card to pay for food items. EBT cards work much like debit cards; recipients make food purchases against a fixed amount placed in their EBT account using the card and a pin number at the register. Vendors wishing to offer EBT services for SNAP participants must register through the United States Department of Agriculture to begin the approval process.
Contact the local Food and Nutrition Service, or FNS, office and request a vendor application package. FNS offices are managed by the United States Department of Agriculture, also called the USDA. The FNS handles the licensing, registration and monitoring of retail vendors wishing to offer EBT access for participants in SNAP. A list of local FNS offices is available from the FNS website.
Request an application to accept SNAP EBT benefits for your store. Applications can be mailed to a potential vendor, or the vendor can apply online from the FNS website. Applying online requires the vendor to create a free USDA user account before filling out an application.
Find out if your store is eligible. Stores that are EBT vendors must sell staple foods for preparation at home, such as meat, fruits or vegetables, bread, cereal or dairy products. Requirements for vendors are included in the application package and from the FNS website.
Complete the application. Applications request the name of the store owner, her Social Security number, a home address and information about store sales. It is important to be accurate and complete when filling out the application and supplying documents, because the FNS will conduct a background check on the owner, check for previous SNAP activity and conduct a store evaluation.
Return the application and all documents to your local FNS office. Online applicants will be directed where to send additional documentation after submitting the electronic application. Paper applicants who request the application package from the local FNS office will return the application and documents to the FNS office.
Wait for approval from the FNS. The FNS may visit your store location as part of the approval process. View your application status online at your USDA user account. According to the FNS website, the application process can take up to 45 days to complete.
Receive the approval package. The approval package will contain an acceptance notice, a training guide and an instructional video. Review all materials and direct all questions to your local FNS office.
EBT vendors are responsible for the actions of their employees regarding EBT cards, processes and interaction with the SNAP recipient. According to the FNS website, each employee should view the training video provided with your approval package.
Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.