After purchasing a payroll service from the web or phone, you need to activate the service in QuickBooks Desktop by entering a service key that you get upon purchasing.

If you bought the payroll service from a retail store, you need to activate your payroll license online to get the service key. See Activating a payroll service purchased from a retail store.



  • Auto-renewal - your payroll service is a subscription that renews automatically, and your credit card or bank account will be automatically debited at the start of each subscription term.

Getting your Service Key

After purchasing your payroll service, you will receive an email with your service key. You need to enter the service key in your QuickBooks Desktop to activate the service.

If you do not have your service key, use our Automated Service Key/Disk Delivery Key Tool. You will be asked to sign in using your Intuit Account login. The automated tool may not work if:

  • There are multiple payroll orders in our system for your company.
  • You purchased your payroll product from a retail store.
  • Business phone number you provided did not match what Intuit has on file.

To enter the service key in your QuickBooks Desktop:

  1. From the top menu bar, choose Employees > Payroll > Enter Service Key.
  2. If you have an existing payroll subscription, you may see a pop up message appear asking if you want to add this file to your payroll subscription.
    If you are seeing this message, select an option:
    • Click Skip to proceed to Service Key window.
    • Click Add File if you have an existing payroll subscription and you want to add this file now.
  3. Click the Add button in Manage Service Key window.
  4. Enter your Service Key and click Next.
  5. A Confirmation message will pop up that your payroll service has been activated.
  6. Click Finish.  QuickBooks will download the latest tax table and verify your payroll subscription.

If you are unable to activate your payroll, you may also contact us for support.