Change in Card Brand Signature Requirements Took Effect

As of April 14, 2018, the requirement for obtaining a signature on in-store sales transactions is now optional with Visa®, MasterCard®, Discover® and American Express® in the U.S. and Canada. (Discover and American Express also include other countries such as Mexico and the Caribbean.) However, Visa’s elimination of this requirement applies only to EMV contact or contactless chip-enabled merchants.   We think it’s worth pointing out card signatures won’t disappear overnight. Businesses have the option to decide if and when they want to stop collecting signatures. We expect that in the immediate wake of this change, there will be a significant amount of education that still needs to take place among businesses of every size before adoption of signature-less credit card payments becomes the norm.

What is “EMV-enabled”?

“EMV enablement” is defined as the implementation of an acceptance device capable of reading, communicating, and processing full-data transactions from a compliant EMV chip card. Specifically, this means that the Terminal Entry Capability in the authorization message must be “5” for all Visa products the merchant accepts.

What about PIN?

There are no changes to acceptance of PIN; existing requirements continue to apply for all merchants in the U.S. and Canada. These changes apply only to obtaining a signature at eligible merchants.


For transactions on or after 14 April 2018, EMV-enabled merchants in the U.S. and Canada will not be required to fulfill retrieval requests. However, EMV-enabled merchants will still be responsible for responding to retrieval requests for transactions prior to 14 April 2018 based on prior existing rules.

Terminal Configuration

EMV terminals should continue to support signature, and the EMV kernel should not be changed—in particular, signature should continue to be supported in the kernel.  The only change for EMV-enabled merchants in the U.S. and Canada that choose not to support signature is a software update to remove the prompt for signature in the payment application. Re-certifications are not required for this change.