You may think that you can sell anything under the sun on the world's largest online marketplace, but Amazon restricted products make that far from the truth. While some Amazon product restrictions and category restrictions simply force sellers to meet requirements before listing specific products, others bar sellers from offering certain items on its marketplace—no matter what.
Here's how Amazon describes restricted products in its help center:
As mentioned above, some products and categories are restricted by Amazon until certain specific criteria are met by the seller (like applying and getting approval), so they're not technically "banned" as much as they're heavily regulated or "gated."
Check out this list of Amazon categories requiring approval before you can list products in them:
And within some Amazon categories, certain products are allowed while others are not—no matter if you ask (or beg) for permission to sell them or you meet that category's selling criteria.
Here's how Amazon explains it in Seller Central (you must be logged in to view the linked page):
A seller who doesn't know about Amazon's product restrictions is just asking for disaster.
That's because Amazon closely monitors the listings of its third-party sellers, and if you sell (or even list) a restricted product, it'll only be a matter of time before you get caught.
And if you get caught, look out:
Your Amazon account could get suspended, and you may never regain the privilege to sell on the world's largest online marketplace again.
(Hey, at least you'll still have the option of selling on Walmart.)
We never want you to feel the wrath of Amazon just because you listed a restricted product unknowingly or failed to gain proper approval from the marketplace overlords.
Unfortunately, Amazon makes it tedious and time-consuming to sift through all of the requirements for listing in each gated category and selling each type of restricted product.
You have to click back and forth between each category's specific page within Amazon Seller Central, making it a pain if you want to find out how to sell in multiple restricted product categories.
And, yes, each restricted category has its own set of guidelines for how sellers can gain entry and begin selling products within them.
That's why we decided to make it easy on you by putting everything you need to know about Amazon product restrictions on one page.
Keep reading to protect yourself from making one of the easiest (and most fatal) mistakes an Amazon seller can ever make.
Amazon product restrictions: The rationale behind them
Amazon has several reasons for restricting certain products from being sold on its marketplaces.
Some obvious Amazon product restrictions include listing:
• illegal products
• unsafe products
• products that violate Amazon's policies
Many Amazon restricted products that fall under these categories are no-brainers, like prescription drugs, which are illegal to sell.
Other items that are restricted for Amazon policy reasons, such as crime scene photos, may not be illegal to sell per se, but Amazon deems the sale of them to be creepy enough to have banned the act.
But many other restricted products fall into a grey area, as Amazon places restrictions on them for unclear reasons.
Some of these restricted products simply need prior approval from Amazon before they can be listed. Check out the screenshot below with the full list of categories that are restricted until you submit an application and gain approval:
Other restricted products need more than just Amazon's permission to be listed by a seller; they also need to meet and maintain separate criteria, such as:
• specific image and product description requirements
• having a Professional selling plan
• keeping certain metrics, like Order Defect Rate, below (or above) a level set by Amazon
And one more important note:
FBA product restrictions include date- and temperature-sensitive products, which are not so much "restricted" as having their own specific requirements that must be met. Beyond that, FBA sellers must also refrain from listing the banned products in the screenshot below (original here):
Now that you know the basics of Amazon restricted categories and products, let's talk specifics.
We'll start with a crowd favorite: Alcohol.
Amazon's restrictions on Alcohol (including Wine)
The only alcoholic beverage allowed for sale on Amazon is wine, but only pre-approved sellers can sell it.
Below is the criteria for selling wine on Amazon (Seller Central login required to view link):
Other items related to alcohol that can be sold by anyone (no pre-approval is needed) include food products that contain alcohol (such as rum cakes), kits for brewing beer that don't include alcohol, accessories like corkscrews, and collectibles.
The key factor is that permissible items don't contain alcohol, other than wine and food items with trace amounts for flavor.
Here's a screenshot of Amazon's restrictions on the sale of alcohol:
Liquor licenses are also prohibited because the sale of them is illegal.
Amazon recommends checking out the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for more information.
Amazon product restrictions on Amazon device accessories
As long as third-pary sellers follow Amazon's strict guidelines, they're allowed to list complementary products and accessories for Amazon devices, such as:
• Kindle (and derivative products)
• Fire Stick (and similar products)
Discover how to comply with Amazon's device accessories policies below (original page here):
For more information on product restrictions regarding Amazon device accessories, check these Fair Use and Compatability Guidelines for listing products that work with Amazon devices.
Amazon's restrictions on Animals and Animal Products
Live animals are almost always prohibited for sale on Amazon.
The only exceptions are live shellfish and crustaceans, and live insects and worms used for bait and food.
Other than that, unless a product is a faux animal product (like synthetic fur) or something that contains animal parts that are not otherwise prohibited, it cannot be sold, even on a restricted basis.
Numerous laws and regulatory schemes come into play in this section. Check out the full list of restricted animal products and related laws for more information.
Amazon category restrictions on Fine Art and Home Decor
When it comes to artwork, copyright law and other intellectual property issues are probably the most restrictive in this category, and Amazon takes these restrictions very seriously.
Here's what Amazon says about permitted listings in the fine art category:
And here's what Amazon says about prohibited fine art listings:
If you're interested in selling fine art on Amazon, check out the requirements for gaining entry into this category below (you must be logged in to Seller Central to view the link):
Also note that Amazon charges a special referral fee to merchants who sell fine art, as detailed in the screenshot below:
Amazon also has specific guidelines for listing art in the Home Decor category, as outlined below (and also here):
Any violations in this category can trigger repurcussions from Amazon, so make sure you thoroughly read all of the above.
Note that even unbanned art that either clearly states that it's a reproduction or is authenticated as original work is monitored and restricted.
Make sure you clearly understand Amazon's condition guidelines if you decide selling art and home decor is for you.
You may also want to delve deeper into the following resources:
Amazon restricted category: Automotive and Powersports
The restrictions on the Automotive & Powersports category mostly have to do with HazMat issues (check out our article on selling hazardous materials on Amazon for more information).
Here's Amazon's list of permitted and prohibited products in the Automotive category:
As you can see, prohibited items include any products that are designed to interfere with law enforcement (like license plate covers, and radar and laser jammers) or regulatory schemes (like tool booth blockers and tools for altering odometers).
High-intensity discharge (HID) conversion kits are only allowed if they are intended and specifically listed for off-road use or export, and oxygen sensor simulators are prohibited.
In addition to knowing which products are allowed for sale and those that are barred, Amazon sellers must also meet the following requirements before listing in these categories:
Amazon restrictions on Beauty, Cosmetics, Skin Care, Hair Care, Health and Personal Care
This collection of categories in the beauty and health space is a very restricted area for several reasons.
Amazon states that only "packaged cosmetics and skin or hair care products that are not otherwise restricted and are appropriately described and labeled" may be sold (see screenshot below).
(For the full list of prohibited products in this category, visit this page.)
So, what does “otherwise restricted” mean in this situation?
First, a number of brands do not permit ANY sellers on Amazon to stock their products, including:
• Urban Decay (and many others)
Amazon manages this closely.
Second, products that require a prescription or the supervision of a doctor for their use such as contact lenses or Minoxidil products can never be sold on Amazon.
Any items that run afoul of FDA regulations are also prohibited.
That means that healthcare products like supplements, beauty products that aren't considered safe by the FDA, and things like diet or tanning pills cannot be sold on Amazon.
Next, no product in this category that has been opened or used can ever be sold on Amazon for reasons that are hopefully obvious to most sellers; those types of items carry with them health and safety risks, and liability comes with them.
And anything with an expiration date that has passed faces a similar prohibition.
Finally, any product that violates DEA regulations, such as anything that is listed as a controlled substance (typically diet pills), cannot be sold on Amazon.
Amazon product restrictions on Clothing, Shoes, Handbags, Sunglasses. and Other Accessories
Only pre-approved sellers can list in these categories.
As long as clothing, shoes, and accessories are new, they can typically be sold on Amazon by approved sellers. Amazon restricts this category mostly to manage quality and redundancy.
Here's a link to Amazon's category style guide for clothing and accessories (referenced in the screenshot above) so you can learn more about best practices for setting up product images and listings.
Amazon category restrictions on Currency, Coins, Cash Equivalents, and Gift Cards
The main reason for restrictions in these money-related categories is to protect consumers against fraud.
Permissible items include collectible coins and paper currency, including replicas which are clearly identified. Counterfeits are prohibited.
See the screenshot below (sourced here) for more information:
Actual money, including stocks, securities, cash, cash equivalents, checks, money orders, travelers' checks, food stamps, EBT cards, and precious metal bullion are all prohibited. See the full list of prohibited products from these categories below:
To reiterate the above, the only exception to the prohibition of items that have a cash value is gift cards worth US $2,000.00 or less.
These may only be listed by approved sellers.
If you're interested in selling collectible coins on Amazon, take a look at the requirements for doing so below (you must be logged in to Seller Central to view the link):
If you're interested in listing collectible coins, check out the most important information below on category fees and how to apply so you can get started:
Product restrictions on Amazon for Dietary Supplements
The dietary supplements category is one of the most heavily restricted and regulated by Amazon, and for good reason; people can get seriously ill from ingesting certain ingredients, and Amazon wants no part in that.
Here's how Amazon defines permitted listings in the dietary supplements category:
As for what's prohibited from being listed in the dietary supplements category, see the lengthy list below (broken up into two screenshots):
In addition to this long list of prohibited listings, there's an even longer list of prohibited ingredients and products that cannot be in any dietary supplements you sell.
It's way too long to include here, so make sure you visit Amazon's page on dietary supplements to get the full picture before you begin sourcing products and adding listings.
Amazon category restrictions on Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia
The only products that approved sellers may list in this category are "drugs approved for over-the-counter purchase that are not otherwise prohibited by Amazon policies and are appropriately described and labeled."
ANY other item in this category may never be sold on Amazon.
Any product which violates any law or regulation in the U.S. is prohibited. Some obvious examples include marijuana, hallucinogens, narcotics, opiates, GHB, methoxetamine, seeds to produce any such products, derivatives of any such products, and any other illegal drug product.
Amazon is not the Dark Web, after all.
Similarly, the following drug-related products are also prohibited:
• any controlled substances
• drug paraphernalia
• products intended to defeat drug tests
• DEA list I chemicals
• products that the FDA determined present “unreasonable risk of injury or illness”
• drugs which have been the subject of a prior regulatory action
• prescription drugs
• homeopathic drugs
For more information, take a look at the full list of prohibited drug products.
Amazon restricted products: Electronics
Sellers looking to gain entry into the electronics category must be wary of FCC violations, law enforcement concerns, and intellectual property violations.
On top of that, sellers must never sell streaming media players and must comply with all state e-waste laws if they intend to sell electronics on Amazon.
See below for more details:
Here's a link to the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse
It's likely that a product is prohibited in the electronics category if it could help a user:
• violate FCC regulations (like an uncertified cordless phone or scanning receiver)
• defeat law enforcement tactics (like a radar jammer)
• violate intellectual property law (video game controllers that replace existing technology—those that simply modify what already exists don't violate patents and are okay)
• “cheat the system” (like a “how to” guide for descrambling cable television signals)
Check out the full list of prohibited electronics below:
Now that you know what you're not allowed to sell in Amazon's electronics category, here's a list of products that you're permitted to sell:
If you plan on selling electronics on Amazon, be very mindful of the fulfillment method you use.
Some high-ticket items, as well as products prone to damage, may be better off being merchant-fulfilled instead of FBA, so you can ensure the items are shipped carefully and according to your standards.
Amazon category restrictions on Food and Beverage, Grocery, and Gourmet Foods
The food and beverage category is not as heavily restricted as others.
It's a bit like the clothing category with one key difference—sellers do not need to be pre-approved in this category.
The key issues here are complying with basic laws and Amazon guidelines, which include maintaining standards for:
Also important to Amazon is maintaining quality and avoiding redundancy.
See the full list of permitted and prohibited products in the food & beverage category below:
To sell in the grocery and gourmet foods categories, sellers must meet a different set of criteria (you must be logged into Seller Central to view link, but we've put the screenshots below for your convenience):
Additionally, the products that sellers list in the grocery and gourmet foods categories must meet specific criteria, as outlined below:
For refrigerated foods, sellers must also validate and verify their chill chain:
Amazon includes product definitions to ensure clarity between sellers and its policies:
Most important to sellers are Amazon's product listing requirements for the grocery and gourmet foods categories. See below for details:
Here are some important links mentioned in the above screenshot:
• How to determine price per unit (Seller Central login required; image from page is below if you don't have a login)
• UPCs and item package quantity for multipacks (Seller Central login required)
• Custom variety packs of single-serve hot beverages policy (Seller Central login required)
Beware of the consequences of violating any of Amazon's policies for these categories:
Finally, if you're ready to start selling in the grocery and gourmet foods categories, apply by filling out this application.
For more information, check out these pages in Seller Central on:
How Amazon restricts the Gambling and Lottery category
This category has cut and dry restrictions:
Lottery tickets and gambling machines of any kind cannot be sold on Amazon.
Toy slot machines that aren't functional are the only items in this restricted category that can be sold.
How Amazon restricts Hazardous and Dangerous Items
Hazardous and dangerous items that are permitted for sale on Amazon are limited to very few products:
The list of prohibited hazardous and dangerous products is so extensive that it took two screenshots to capture it.
See below for details:
For more information, check out our article on selling hazardous materials on Amazon.
Amazon restricted products: Hoverboards
Hoverboards are a restricted product on Amazon in that you must apply and submit documentation certifying that the products you intend to sell meet specific requirements.
The details are outlined below:
Amazon product restrictions on Human Parts and Burial Artifacts
You may be in shock that this category exists on Amazon at all, but there are some sellers that deal in this line of products.
Permitted listings include:
However, anything that might constitute a biohazard is prohibited from being sold on Amazon.com.
• human remains
• any bones other than human skulls and skeletons that are for medical purposes
In addition, anything that might be a historical artifact, such as any items from Native American burial sites, historical grave markers, or any items removed from historical lands, federally-recognized or not, is prohibited.
Here's the full list of prohibited products in the human parts and burial artifacts category:
How Amazon puts restrictions on Jewelry and Precious Gems
First and foremost: Only pre-approved sellers can list jewelry and precious gems items on Amazon.
See below for examples of prohibted listings in these categories:
Amazon's rationale for regulating the jewelry category boils down to ensuring:
• product quality
• product branding
• consumer safety
There are extensive requirements for listing in the jewelry category, including:
• category policies
• general requirements
• seller requirements
• product quality
• product listing
• item data
See all the requirements for listing in the jewelry category in detail below:
If you're ready to start selling jewelry, you must first decide whether you'd like to list in Fine Jewelry or Fashion Jewelry.
See below for more information on distinguishing between the two jewelry types on Amazon:
Check out the following links for more information on selling jewelry on Amazon:
• Amazon's jewelry browse tree update FAQ (must be logged in to Seller Central)
Before selling fine jewelry on Amazon, make sure to read over Amazon's terms and conditions for this heavily restricted category:
If you're ready to start selling jewelry, apply to sell Fashion Jewelry here and read the instructions below for applying to sell in the Fine Jewelry category:
If you get approval from Amazon, check out the tips below for best practices on setting up your jewelry listings:
Amazon category restrictions on Medical Devices and Accessories
This category is largely governed by FDA regulations.
Below is a list of permitted listings for all sellers:
For sellers participating in the Professional Health Care Program (apply here), the list of permitted products is more extensive:
Restricted items that may only be sold by approved retailers include over-the-counter items like canes and eyeglass frames without prescription lenses.
As far as what's prohibited, anything that has not been cleared for over-the-counter use by the FDA or is considered dangerous by the FDA is barred from being sold on Amazon.
Products that include Class IIIB and Class IVB lasers are also prohibited (such as laser pointers).
See the full list of prohibited items in the medical and health devices category below:
How Amazon restricts Offensive Products
Amazon.com reserves the right to prohibit any items that it deems offensive.
Any products that might be characterized as expressing “hate speech” or racist, sexist, or other intolerant views will be prohibited.
Grisly and morbid items such as body parts, and photos from crime scenes, accidents, disasters, autopsies, and similar events will also be prohibited.
Lastly, unauthorized recordings are prohibited.
Check out the full list below as it appears on Amazon:
And for more details, here's the breakdown in Seller Central:
Yes, there's an "Other" category on Amazon with specific product restrictions
There is a fairly extensive list of “other” items prohibited by Amazon in this category, as well as one restricted item that may still be sold: plants and seeds not otherwise restricted.
Prohibited items are mostly obvious, and include recalled products, real estate, official government documents like birth certificates, event tickets, the “Your Baby Can Read” product (which Amazon has a specific contract to sell itself), and domain names.
Here's the full list of prohibited products that fall into the "Other" category:
Amazon product restrictions on Postage Meters and Stamps
Within the Postage Meters and Stamps category, postage meters are prohibited, along with any counterfeit stamps or equipment to produce them (obviously), but supplies for them are merely permitted.
Current postage stamps are restricted unless they are counterfeit. Collectible stamps are restricted, even replicas, so long as they are properly identified as such.
Here's the full breakdown according to Amazon:
How Amazon restricts Recalled Products
Recalled products are always prohibited. These include products recalled by:
• the manufacturer
• or any other government agency
How Amazon restricts products in the Sex & Sensuality category
Items like condoms, magazines widely available in regular bookstores, and unrated erotic videos can be sold by anyone on Amazon.
Only pre-approved sellers can list restricted items such as sex toys and “novelty food items” (think: edible panties).
There are more restrictions to learn about here, and we'll let this screenshot from Amazon tell you the rest of what you need to know before listing in this category:
How Stolen Property & Lock Picking Devices are restricted on Amazon
Blank keys are really the only allowable items in this category; anything else, including locksmithing tools, key duplication devices, code grabbers, and master keys, are prohibited.
See below for the full list:
How Surveillance Equipment is restricted by Amazon
Once again, equipment that is designed to help users break the law is prohibited on Amazon; other equipment can be sold.
This means that you can sell baby monitors, video cameras, answering machines, night vision devices, and surveillance equipment that is video only.
Anything that is used for hacking, descrambling, illegal surveillance, wiretapping, eavesdropping, or surreptitious viewing or recording of sexual acts is prohibited.
See below for more information:
Amazon product restrictions on Tobacco and Tobacco-Related Products
Nothing containing tobacco may be sold on Amazon; tobacco itself is prohibited.
E-cigarettes are also prohibited, as are any items that advertise tobacco.
Drug paraphernalia is also prohibited, but hookahs fall into the sellable area.
Accessories like ashtrays, cigarette paper, and lighters are sellable, as are nicotine gums and patches to aid in quitting smoking.
See below for more info:
Amazon category restrictions on Warranties and Services
Only pre-approved sellers are able to offer these products, and as of December 2017, Amazon is no longer accepting new applications from sellers in this category.
See below for more info:
Amazon category restrictions on Weapons
Amazon prohibits the sale of most types of guns, ammunition, gun conversion kits, gun parts, explosives, knives, and other weapons.
But there are exceptions, and these items fall into the permitted area of the category: air guns, BB guns, paintball guns, kitchen knives, hunting knives, arrows, crossbows, stun guns, toy guns, and pepper spray.
It is crucial to note that laws concerning weapons vary from place to place, so as a seller you are responsible for knowing what they are in each of your sales jurisdictions.
Below is everything you need to know about Amazon weapons restrictions:
Seller experiences and problems with restricted items
Amazon sellers in WarriorForum point out that the restricted product experience depends in large part on the restricted categories in which the seller operates.
Some of the categories (as described above) require nothing more than adherence to the rules; others require specific approval from Amazon which is more involved. Amazon will even require that sellers secure manufacturer permission to sell certain products.
Sellers also report that to receive approval in some restricted categories, sellers must prove to Amazon that they have ongoing, reliable access to the product and that they are capable of fulfilling their orders in the long-term. The approval process requires a UPC or EAN for almost all items in most Amazon categories, especially major brand-name products.
Sellers must also have professionally-staged images on white backgrounds for every product page.
Sellers in the forums encourage and advise each other not to be discouraged by Amazon's policies which can feel very restrictive. They point out that Amazon is itself a business, not a service, and that it's focused on its own bottom line, not on their seller experience. In other words, seller experience is very different from customer satisfaction.
Sellers with more experience indicate that even unintentional rule-breaking can result in quick suspensions, so sellers must be very cautious with restricted products.
The bottom line on Amazon product restrictions
Amazon product restrictions are just another hurdle for sellers to overcome when it comes to building their eCommerce presence on the world's largest online marketplace.
Thankfully, it's easy to check Amazon's list of restricted items and FBA prohibted products to make sure you're not breaking the rules. And, given a little thought, most of the restrictions make sense.
Items which may allow users to break the law or regulations are restricted or prohibited, so if you have reason to believe something you sell may fall into that category, make sure to check. And, just to make it clear, anything that is illegal cannot be listed on Amazon.
Anything that could be hazardous or could endanger or sicken someone under the wrong circumstances is likely restricted.
Any item that is heavily regulated in brick-and-mortar stores (think alcohol, tobacco, weapons, medicine, etc.) is also probably restricted or prohibited.
And finally, any product that might interfere with Amazon's own business model is probably on this list.
Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page on Amazon product restrictions if you have more questions, and keep this article handy as a reference so you don't have to navigate through page after page on Amazon Seller Central.
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