Licensing Program

In order to become a licensed Visa issuer or merchant acquirer, you must provide Visa with some information to get going. This information is important to ensure all licensed partners are vetted and meet certain regional requirements for various regulations.

If approved, you will unlock the power of Visa issuing and acquiring and get access to several other products and services we provide – like Visa APIs and solutions.

Start the licensing process
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Types of Licenses

The licensing program is built to accommodate two types of clients:

Principal Clients

Clients who fall into this bucket are typically larger institutions who are experienced in risk underwriting, credit management, billing customers, and collecting payments. 

Benefits of becoming a principal client:

These clients work directly with Visa for product development and marketing. While there are service fees that are required, these clients have the most flexibility for the capabilities they are able to manage and are fully responsible for all activities associated with the assigned BIN.

These clients are typically high-volume banks and financial institutions that can also be listed in our partner directory to help expand your network.

Principal client capabilities

  • May issue cards
  • May disburse cash
  • May acquire merchants
  • Holds settlement risk
  • Hosts own processing
  • May sponsor others
  • Handles reporting (and sponsorees)
  • Pays ongoing fees (and sponsorees)
  • Directly licenses a BIN
  • Complies with Visa rules
  • Registers third party agents

Associate Clients

Smaller institutions who operate with the assistance of a Principal for certain aspects, such as settlement, reporting, and fee payment.

Benefits of becoming an associate client:

These clients have full ownership of their licensing program, with the sponsorship of a principal client. 

These clients are typically smaller credit unions, startups, or other entities.                                                                      

Associate client capabilities

  • May issue cards
  • May disburse cash
  • May acquire merchants
  • Directly licenses a BIN
  • Complies with Visa rules
  • Registers third party agents

Application Process

Visa’s licensing program simplifies your application process. The tool walks applicants through online questionnaires and includes the ability to ask Visa questions during each step of the process. Since each country has its own rules and regulations for licensing, you will need a license for each country in which you want to operate. Please note, some of the steps below may change based on the countries/territories chosen, and additional documentation and/or licenses may apply.


Create a Visa Partner account and on the dashboard, select "Apply for licensing".

Onboarding Questionnaire

Fill out all the necessary details including:

  • Copy of banking license or regulatory credentials
  • Audited financial statements for the past 3 years

Country Specific Forms

Based on the country you are applying for, the dashboard will update with additional forms, including:

  • Anti-money laundering questionnaire
  • Client licensing agreement
  • Sponsorship agreement (for associates only)


Once approved, you may begin the implementation activites to connect into the Visa network.

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