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USDA/FNS RIN: 0584-AE45 Publication ID: Fall 2016 
Title: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Photo Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card Implementation Requirements 

Under section 7(h)(9) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act), as amended [7 U.S.C. 2016(h)(9)], States have the option to require the SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card contain a photo of one or more household members. The final rule would incorporate into regulation and provide additional clarity on the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) guidance developed for State agencies wishing to implement the photo EBT card option. 

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: uncollected 
CFR Citation: 7 CFR 273    7 CFR 274    7 CFR 278   
Legal Authority: Pub. L. 104-193   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

The regulation would create a clearer structure for those States wishing to exercise the option of placing a photo on EBT cards and ensure uniform accessibility for participants in all States.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, 7 U.S.C. 2011 et seq., requires that any States choosing to issue a photo on the EBT card establish procedures to ensure that all other household members or any authorized representative of the household may utilize the card.  Furthermore, applying this option must also preserve client rights and responsibilities afforded by the Act to ensure that all household members are able to maintain uninterrupted access to benefits, that non-applicants applying on behalf of eligible household members are not negatively impacted, and that SNAP recipients using photo EBT cards are treated equitably in accordance with Federal law when purchasing food at authorized retailers.


The final rule would mostly codify guidance issued in December 2014.  The Department considered not issuing any regulation on photo EBT cards.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The changes are not expected to create serious inconsistencies or otherwise interfere with actions taken or planned by another agency or materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof.  The requirements will not raise novel or legal policy issues.

As a result of this rule, States that exercise the option to implement photos on EBT cards would incur costs associated with development of an implementation plan, State staff training, client training, and retailer training.  It is expected that providing guidance or oversight of these requirements would fall under the standard purview of these agencies and could be absorbed by existing staff.  State Agencies are responsible for approximately 50% of SNAP administration costs, which would include the costs associated with implementing and maintaining photo EBT cards.


This rule will promulgate and expand on current program guidance to provide clarification and more detailed guidance to States implementing the photo EBT option and ensure program access is protected.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  01/06/2016  81 FR 398   
NPRM Comment Period End  03/07/2016 
Final Action  12/00/2016 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: Local, State 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Charles H. Watford
Regulatory Review Specialist
Department of Agriculture
Food and Nutrition Service
1320 Braddock Place,
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone:703 605-0800