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What is Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)?

EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2020-0095
Resource type
Technical Assistance & Guidance
Guidance Documents
What is Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)?

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participant to pay for food using SNAP benefits. When a participant shops at a SNAP authorized retail store, their SNAP EBT account is debited to reimburse the store for food that was purchased. EBT is in use in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. EBT has been the sole method of SNAP issuance in all states since June of 2004.

What is Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)?

P-EBT is part of the U.S. government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was established by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). P-EBT provides benefits – very similar to SNAP benefits -- to children that would have received free or reduced price school meals, if not for COVID-related school closures and/or COVID-related reductions in school hours or attendance.

On Nov. 4, 2020, FNS published the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) Integrity Final Rule, which is codified at 7 CFR 284.1. This rule requires FNS to treat P-EBT benefits the same as SNAP benefits for the purposes of identifying and sanctioning program violators.

For additional information regarding P-EBT please see our Frequently Asked Questions.

EBT Information
EBT by State
Contacts
Retailer Notices
01/27/2022

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.