Receipt requirements: Law differs from card network rules


Your Business Credit
Elaine Pofeldt is a journalist whose articles on entrepreneurship and careers have appeared in Fortune, Working Mother, Money and many other publications. She is a former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and an entrepreneur herself, as co-founder of, a website for independent professionals. She writes "Your Business Credit," a weekly column about small business and credit, for

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Question Dear Your Business Credit,
What merchant information is required on receipts? Does the response given apply to credit card sales slips given to the customer? I found a May 2014 publication by MasterCard May that includes "POS Transaction Receipt Requirements" and it states the merchant name (address also) must be included on the receipt. -- Robert

Answer Dear Robert,
I asked Richard Agins, an attorney in Chandler, Arizona, who practices business law, for an answer to your question. He said that generally, credit card transactions are considered electronic fund transfers and are governed by federal law. "This is all contained in the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Regulation E," he says. Regulation E is the Federal Reserve Board's regulation implementing the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

On receipts for a point-of-sale transaction, you must include several pieces of information, according to Agins:

  • The date of the transaction.
  • The amount of the transaction.
  • The type of transaction (such as "sale").
  • The type of account the customer used to pay.
  • The last four digits of the customer's account number.
  • The location or an identification number associated with the terminal. If the location is disclosed it needs to include the city and state plus one of the following: the street address or a generally accepted name for the location (such as "Times Square") or the name of the owner or operator of the terminal.

There may be state and local laws that govern this, too, but federal law preempts them unless they are more protective of consumers.

Bear in mind the individual card issuers may impose their own requirements. In the case of MasterCard, the rules appear on pages 3-16 of MasterCard's transaction processing rules.

MasterCard's rules are more stringent than the law requires when it comes to identifying where the terminal is. Here are some of MasterCard's requirements that you must meet on a receipt for a point-of-sale transaction:

  • Your name as merchant and your street address, city, state/province and country.
  • The type of transaction (retail sale, credit, cash disbursement, refund).
  • The primary account number (PAN), but on the cardholder receipt, this must be truncated to the last four digits. Truncation is also highly recommended for merchant copies of the receipt.
  • A description and the price of each product and service that was purchased or returned, including taxes.
  • The total amount of the transaction and currency used.
  • The transaction date.
  • For card-present point-of-sale transactions, a legible imprint of the card (unless the card is unembossed) or an electronic recording of the magnetic stripe-read, chip-read or key-entered card data.
  • The authorization number, if obtained from the issuer.
  • On the cardholder copy, space for the cardholder's signature.
  • On the cardholder copy, the words "IMPORTANT -- retain this copy for your records," or a similar message.

I recommend thoroughly reading the entire section of the document I have mentioned to make sure you understand all the nuances, and calling your merchant account provider for help if you are unclear. Light reading it is not. But when you are dealing with credit card transactions it is important to follow the rules to the letter of the law and any agreements you signed with card issuers.

Also keep in mind that it is usually good business practice to include your contact details on your receipts. Good luck!

See related: 8 tips for merchants to avoid credit card chargebacks, What merchants should do if customer presents unsigned card, Should I offer e-receipts to customers?

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Published: February 2, 2015

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