Manually Add or Import a Subscription

Just like creating an order manually, WooCommerce Subscriptions also gives store managers the ability to create subscriptions manually. If you’re familiar with creating orders manually in WooCommerce, this process will look familiar but it does have a few distinct differences.

This guide explains the process of manually adding or importing a subscription. If you want to modify an existing subscription, you’ll want to read Updating an Existing Subscription for that process.

Manually add a subscription

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Manually adding a new subscription for customers is helpful for stores that might need to take orders in person or over the phone. It’s also helpful if something goes wrong at checkout and customers need your help to start a subscription. 

If you’ve ever created an order manually in WooCommerce, you’ll find the process familiar. The difference is that with subscriptions, you set up an agreement with your customer for future transactions, whereas an order becomes a past transaction once the customer pays.

Follow these steps to manually add a subscription: 

  1. Go to WooCommerce > Subscriptions.
  2. Click the Add Subscription button.
  3. Add a customer to the subscription. More info below in Add a Subscriber section below.
  4. Add a billing schedule. More info below in Set a Billing Schedule section below.
  5. Add products, shipping costs, and fees to the subscription, following the process described in the Add Line Items section below.
  6. Add taxes, following the process described in the Add Recurring Taxes section below.
  7. Recalculate totals for the line items and taxes, following the process described in the Calculate Recurring Totals section below.
  8. Set the subscription status, following the process described in the Set Subscription Status section below.
  9. Under Subscription actions, click Update to start the Subscription.
  10. Under Subscription actions, select “Create pending parent order”. This will create a pending parent order associated with the subscription.
  11. Go to the pending parent order, from there you can email the customer an invoice with a payment link by selecting “Send order details to customer” in the Order actions dropdown menu.

This creates a subscription that customers can pay by either making manual renewal payments or using supported automatic renewal payment gateways for each billing cycle.

Once a parent order exists, customers can make payment either by following the payment link in the order details email, or log into their account and visit the “My Account” area to pay for the order from the “Orders” or the “Subscriptions” tab.

Once the customer pays the pending parent order, the subscription status switches to “Active,” and the system creates a new renewal order when the next payment is due based on the billing schedule you set in step 4.

Depending on whether the payment gateway extension supports it or not, you can also link a subscription to a payment gateway for automatic recurring payments. To do that, follow the instructions in Charging Renewal Payments.

Manually Add a Subscription
Manually adding a subscription does not send out order emails; those need to be sent manually also.

Add a subscriber

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Each subscription in your store needs to be associated with a WordPress user account for a customer. Therefore, a good first step when creating a subscription is to link the customer account to the subscription.

If the subscriber does not already have a user account with your WordPress site, you should add the user via the Users → Add New administration screen before proceeding.

To add the customer to a subscription:

  1. Click the Customer select box under the subscription details meta box.
  2. Type the first few letters of the name or email for the customer.
  3. Wait for WooCommerce to find a set of matching accounts.
  4. Once a set of accounts is loaded, click the customer.
  5. Save the customer on the subscription immediately by clicking the Create button (optional).
Customer drop down
Add customer drop-down

Once you add a customer to the subscription, enter the billing and shipping addresses to manage recurring payments and shipments for the subscription. The system can automatically load existing addresses from the customer’s account into the Billing Details or Shipping Details of the Subscription details meta box.

To add these details:

  1. Click the pencil icon next to Billing Details.
  2. Click Load Billing Details.
  3. Click the pencil icon next to Shipping Details to Load Shipping Details or Copy Billing Details.

You can also add or edit these addresses, if necessary.

Set a billing schedule

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The cornerstone of a subscription is its billing schedule. This schedule includes dates for important events, such as:

  • Date that the subscription’s trial will end (if any)
  • End date of subscription itself (if it expires automatically)
  • Recurring interval and period on which renewal orders are generated to capture recurring payments and manage shipping of items.

When you manually add or edit a subscription, the billing schedule set on any subscription products added as line items will not automatically apply as the billing schedule for that subscription. Instead, you have complete freedom to set the upcoming dates and recurrence for the line items of that subscription.

To set a billing schedule on a subscription:

  1. Click the first select box in the Recurring section of the Schedule meta box and set the billing interval for the subscription. By default, this is set to every, which means once per day, week, month or year, a renewal order is generated.
  2. Click the second select box in the Recurring section of the Schedule meta box and set the billing period for the subscription.
  3. Click the Start Date text box and enter a date or use the calendar to choose a date. The start date must be in the past.
  4. Click the Trial End Date text box, and enter a date or use the calendar to choose a date (optional).
  5. Click the Next Payment Date text box, and enter a date or use the calendar to choose a date.
  6. Click the End Date text box, and enter a date or use the calendar to choose a date (optional).
Billing schedule meta box
Set Subscription Billing Schedule
Note: The timezone used for these dates is the timezone of the web browser used while editing dates (as displayed at the bottom of the meta box). It is not the timezone of your site or web server. The browser timezone is used to avoid the need to calculate the timezone offset for your WordPress site/WooCommerce store when editing a date from a different timezone to the store. Set the date and time to the time you want it to process in your current local time, Subscriptions then convert this to GMT/UTC timezone to make sure it is processed at that time.

Add line items: Products, fees and shipping

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Normally, a subscription provides the customer with access to a certain product or products on a recurring basis. That subscription may also have a shipping cost and/or a fee associated with it. These are all called line items on the subscription.

To add a product line item to a subscription:

  1. Click the Add item(s) button in the items meta box.
  2. Click the Add product(s) button.
  3. Click in the text box displaying the placeholder: Search for a product…
  4. Type the first few letters of the product’s name.
  5. Wait for WooCommerce to find a set of matching products.
  6. Click the name of the product you wish to add when it loads.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 if you wish to add more products (optional).
  8. Click Add. The chosen product(s) displays as line items in the items meta box.
  9. Save.
Add product button
Add Product Line Item to a Subscription

Add a shipping line item

To add a shipping line item to a subscription:

  1. Click the Add item(s) button in the items meta box.
  2. Click the Add shipping button. A generic Shipping line item displays as a line item in the items meta box.
  3. Click the pencil icon next to the shipping line item.
  4. Click in the text box displaying the placeholder: Shipping Name.
  5. Enter a label for the shipping line item to display to customers viewing the subscription and associated orders.
  6. Click the select box next to the Shipping Name text box.
  7. Select a Shipping Method you want to use to determine the cost and taxes of this shipping line item, if any (learn more about shipping methods in the shipping methods guide).
  8. Click in the text box under the Total column with the placeholder: 0
  9. Enter the amount you want to charge customers for shipping on each renewal.
  10. Save.
Add shipping button
Step 2: Add a Shipping Item
Shipping type drop-down
Step 7: Choose Shipping Line Item Type
Shipping price
Step 8: Add Shipping Line Item Price

Add a fee line item

To add a fee line item to a subscription:

  1. Click the Add item(s) button in the items meta box.
  2. Click the Add fee button. A popup will ask for a fee price or percentage you want to charge customers for this fee on each renewal.
  3. Click OK. A generic Fee line item displays as a line item in the items meta box.
  4. Click the pencil icon next to the fee line item. (optional)
  5. Click in the text box displaying the placeholder: Fee Name. (optional)
  6. Enter a label for the fee line item to display to customers viewing the subscription and associated orders. (optional)
  7. Save.
Add fee button and pop-up
Add a Fee Line Item to a Subscription

Add recurring taxes

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If you want each renewal payment to include taxes, you must add a tax rate or rates to the subscription. Before adding a tax rate to the subscription, you need to set up tax rates in WooCommerce. After you set up tax rates and add and save a product to the subscription you can add a tax rate.

Follow these instructions to add a tax rate to a subscription:

  1. Click the Add item(s) button in the items meta box.
  2. Click the Add Tax button.
  3. Click the radio button next to the tax rate you wish to add.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Click Recalculate.
  6. Repeat for each tax rate you want applied to the subscription.

The system displays a new tax column next to the Total column for each line item. Initially, tax values for each line item appear as a dash (-).

Note: You can also set tax values manually by editing each line item and clicking the pencil icon on that row.

Add recurring taxes
Add Recurring Taxes

Calculate recurring totals

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After you add line items and/or taxes to include on the subscription, WooCommerce calculates taxes for each line item and the total amount to charge the customer for each renewal.

To calculate taxes and totals, click the Recalculate button on the items meta box.

Recalculate Subscription Totals
Calculate Recurring Totals for Subscription

Set subscription status

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By default, new subscriptions have the Pending status. This means subscriptions will not process any future renewals, and the customer will not receive special access to any products.

However, once the subscription has a customer, billing schedule and line items, and recurring totals calculated, you can change the subscription’s status to Active. Please note that changing the status to active does not take payment from the customer. If you need to charge the customer immediately, follow the instructions in Create a Pending Renewal Order.

To change a subscription’s status:

  1. Click the Subscription Status select box in the Subscription details meta box.
  2. Click the status you want to give the subscription.
  3. Save Subscription.

Once a subscription is active, the customer is assigned the default subscriber role. Subscriptions also schedules the next payment date.

Subscription Status Drop-down
Select Subscription Status

Set up automatic payments

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By default, manually added subscriptions use the Manual Renewal payment method.

However, if a payment gateway extension active on the store supports administrator payment method changes, store managers can choose to change the payment method on subscriptions without customer involvement.

To change a subscription’s payment method:

  1. Go to the WooCommerce > Subscriptions administration screen.
  2. Click the ID of the subscription you want to change to open the Edit Subscriptions screen.
  3. Click the pencil icon next to the Billing Details section.
  4. Go to the dropdown menu under Billing Details that allows you to change Payment Method.
Edit Subscription - Change Payment Method
Edit Subscription – Change Payment Method

You can also use this feature to migrate a customer from one payment method to another, for example, from PayPal to Stripe.

However, to change the subscription to a new payment method, you need to obtain the meta data required for that payment method. The meta data required varies by gateway and is usually a type of customer or credit card token with the payment gateway.

For example, the Stripe Source ID shown in the above screenshot is a special card token provided by Stripe, not a credit card number. This number is created when the customer enters credit card information in checkout and is available to you as the store manager via the Stripe dashboard. Note: The Stripe Source ID, token beginning with src_, was previously called the Stripe Card ID, token beginning with card_. The old tokens will still work in this field. Other valid tokens are card_, and pm_  . However, src_ should be preferred.

Note: Adding a manual subscription with automatic renewals is not possible with PayPal Standard unless PayPal Reference Transactions is set up.

Create a pending renewal order

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If you manually create an order for a customer but would like them to start a subscription with automatic payments, you can use the “Create Pending Renewal Order” action. This will send an invoice to your subscriber

To create an invoice for a customer that they can use to start a subscription with automatic payments:

  1. Create a new subscription following the instructions above (its status can remain pending or you can change it to active if needed).
  2. Click the dropdown menu in the Subscriptions Actions box.
  3. Select Create Pending Renewal Order.
  4. Save Subscription.
Subscription Actions – Create Pending Renewal Order

Creating a pending renewal order like this:

  • Creates a new order connected to the subscription, in the pending status
  • Places the subscription on-hold

You can then use this new order to control activation of the subscription. For example, you could email the order to the customer using the Order actions. When the customer pays for the subscription renewal order, the subscription activates. You can also change the status of the order to processing or completed to log a payment in your store’s records that the customer may have paid by cheque or over the phone.

Manually importing a subscription

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To import a subscription created with another subscription management system, add the subscription as outlined above. If you want to charge automatic payments, follow the instructions for charging renewal payments. If you’re migrating your customers from another subscription service to WooCommerce Subscriptions, you’ll want to read Migrating Subscribers to WooCommerce Subscriptions.

Payment gateways that don’t support changing recurring payment amounts or dates: if the subscription uses PayPal Standard or another payment gateway which does not support changing recurring amounts or dates, be sure to set the billing schedule and totals before changing the subscription’s status from Pending to Active. Once you activate the subscription, the billing schedule and dates will not be editable and you would need to delete the subscription and start again.

Questions and Support

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