PayPal Making a PayPal payment Node Express Server Example


In this example, we're going to set up an Express server integration to display how to process a payment with PayPal, using the PayPal Node SDK. We will use a static JSON structure for the payment details for the sake of brevity.

There are three general steps that we will follow when building out the functions to handle the PayPal payment:

  1. We create a JSON object containing the payment that we intend to process through PayPal. We then send that to PayPal to obtain a link to redirect the user to in order to confirm payment.
  2. Next, we redirect the user to PayPal to confirm the payment. Once confirmed, PayPal redirects the user back to our application.
  3. Once returned to the app, we complete the payment on behalf of the user.

Breaking this down as a simple Node app, we start by obtaining the PayPal Node SDK from NPM:

npm install paypal-rest-sdk

Next, we set up the app configuration and packages.

var http = require('http'),
    paypal = require('paypal-rest-sdk'),
    bodyParser = require('body-parser'),
    app = require('express')();


//allow parsing of JSON bodies

//configure for sandbox environment
    'mode': 'sandbox', //sandbox or live
    'client_id': client_id,
    'client_secret': secret

We require four requirements for this app:

  1. The HTTP package for our server.
  2. The PayPal Node SDK package.
  3. The bodyParser package for working with JSON encoded bodies.
  4. The Express framework for our server.

The next few lines set up variables for the client ID and secret that were obtained when creating an application. We then set up bodyParser to allow for JSON encoded bodies, then configure our application using the application details, and specify the environment that we are working in (live for production or sandbox for testing).

Now let's create the route for creating a payment request with PayPal.

app.get('/create', function(req, res){
    //build PayPal payment request
    var payReq = JSON.stringify({
            'description':'This is the payment transaction description.'

    paypal.payment.create(payReq, function(error, payment){
        } else {
            //capture HATEOAS links
            var links = {};
                links[linkObj.rel] = {
                    'href': linkObj.href,
                    'method': linkObj.method
            //if redirect url present, redirect user
            if (links.hasOwnProperty('approval_url')){
            } else {
                console.error('no redirect URI present');

The first thing we do is set up the payment request JSON object, which contains the information that we need to provide PayPal with to create the payment. We set the intent to sale, specify the redirect URLs (where PayPal should forward the user to after they confirm / cancel the payment), add in a payment_method of paypal to signal that we will make a PayPal payment, then specify the transaction information for the payer to confirm.

We then call payment.create(...), passing in our payReq object. This will send the create payment request to PayPal. Once that returns, and is successful, we can loop through the provided HATEOAS links in the return object to extract the URL that we need to redirect the user to, which is labeled under approval_url.

The format for the HATEOAS links can cause fragile reference code if used directly, so we loop through all provided links and put them in a better reference object to future proof against changes. If the approval_url is then found in that object, we redirect the user.

At this point the user is redirected to PayPal to confirm the payment. Once they do, they are redirected back to the return_url that we specified in the createPayment(...) function.

We now have to provide a route to handle that return, in order to complete the payment.

app.get('/process', function(req, res){
    var paymentId = req.query.paymentId;
    var payerId = { 'payer_id': req.query.PayerID };

    paypal.payment.execute(paymentId, payerId, function(error, payment){
        } else {
            if (payment.state == 'approved'){ 
                res.send('payment completed successfully');
            } else {
                res.send('payment not successful');

When the user is returned back to your app, there will be three query string parameters that will be sent along as well, the paymentId, PayerID, and token. We only need to deal with the first two.

We extract the parameters, and place the PayerID in a simple object for the need of the payment execution step. Next, a call is made to payment.execute(...), passing in those two parameters, in order to complete the payment.

Once that request is made, we see if the payment completed successfully by checking if payment.state is set to approved. If so, we can store what we need from the payment object that is returned.

Our last step is to initialize our server and listen for traffic coming to the routes we specified.

//create server
http.createServer(app).listen(3000, function () {
   console.log('Server started: Listening on port 3000');

Once the server is initialized, going to http://localhost:3000/create initializes the payment process.