The Difference Between A Restricted Product and Restricted Category
Sounds like a set up for a joke, right? Sorry, no punchlines here. Before we start digging through the technicalities of restricted products, let’s go over semantics.
What’s the difference between a restricted product and a restricted category? You may hear this a lot when reading about what cannot be sold on Amazon.
What Cannot Be Sold on Amazon FBA
Dangerous (Hazmat) Goods Cannot be Sold on Amazon
Dangerous goods, such as lithium batteries and magnetized materials, can be sold through FBA. Additionally, flammable gasses, flammable solids, oxidizers, and so on can be sold in limited quantities.
The following classes or divisions are prohibited for FBA:
What Cannot Be Sold on Amazon At All
Amazon doesn’t allow alcoholic beverages to be sold on the platform unless it’s wine sold by pre-approved sellers. For example, Amazon Prime customers can get wine delivered if a store that serves their area sells it.
Items marketed for customers over 21 years of age, or any product that encapsulates raw alcohol, is not permitted for sale on Amazon.
Animals & Animal-Related Products
Fur/feathers from endangered/threatened species.
Art – Fine Art
Sculptures (or other 3D art)
Textile/antropological art (Navajo blankets)
Artwork without a named artist
Art – Home Decor
Automotive and Powersports
Motor vehicles that are required to be registered
Products designed to interfere with law enforcement/vehicle safety features (license plate covers)
Vehicle seat belts
Engine coolant with more than 10% ethylene glycol
Composite Wood Products
Products containing regulated composite wood that do not meet EPA formaldehyde emissions standards
Products containing regulated composite wood that are not individually labeled to EPA standards
Cosmetics & Skin/Hair Care
To create listings for cosmetics on Amazon (skin cream, perfume, lipsticks, cleansers, shampoo), Sellers must meet standards for ingredients, packaging, labeling, and language set by federal agencies and Amazon.
Additionally, there are a few specified brand items and ingredients that cannot be sold on Amazon at all, including:
- Contact lenses
- Claire’s brand
- Obagi Nu-Derm, Elastiderm, C-Therapy, or RX System products
- Products that contain minoxidil in excess of 5%
- Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution
- Anything with more than 12% hydrogen peroxide
- Acetone in volumes more than 16 oz total
- Body washes with microbeads
- Halogenated salicylanilides
- Methylene chloride
- Vinyl chloride in aerosol products
- Zirconium-containing complexes in aerosol products
- Synthol, Synthrol, or Swethol posing oil
CPAP Cleaning and Disinfecting Devices
Currency, Coins, Cash Equivalents, and Gift Cards
Selling collectible coins, precious metals, stones, or jewels is an Amazon restricted category. To sell on Amazon with these products, you must be ungated or approved by Amazon.
If you’re thinking of listing gift cards, or anything else that may be connected to or traded for currency, Amazon has banned these items:
- Items considered legal tender that have been altered outside of numismatic preservation. This includes holograms, overlays, cladding, plating, or colorizing
- Paper money, including uncut sheets, banknotes, money orders, bricks, and certificates
- Imitation currency/coins/paper money not plainly and permanently marked “COPY” in the English language
- Commemorative medals
- Rounds made primarily of precious metal
- “Unsearched” bags, rolls, tubes, jars, or hoards where the buyers cannot identify clearly the items they will receive
- Counterfeit coins and paper money such as bank notes, bonds, money orders, silver certificates, and gold certificates
- Stocks and securities
- Equipment designed to create counterfeit items
- Cash or cash equivalent instruments, including money orders, traveler’s checks, stored value products like retail or open loop gift cards or electronic stored-value redemption codes (except for retail gift cards listed by pre-approved sellers)
- Gift cards that exceed $2,000 in value
- Non-monetized bullion (precious metal which has been smelted or refined and has a value dependent primarily upon its precious metal content and not upon its form)
- State or federal assistance benefits, such as SNAP, WIC, and EBT cards
If you would like to sell items like supplements in tablet, capsule, gelcap, or liquid forms, be careful that your products packaging, labeling, and language are compliant with FDA, FTC, and Amazon policies.
Although CBD is a rapidly growing category of products, Amazon prohibits the sale of controlled substances detailed in Schedules I, II, III, IV or V.
Also, you’ll want to ensure that your supplements do not contain ingredients prohibited by the FDA, including:
- Acacia rigidula
- Pure Powdered Caffeine
For a complete list of prohibited products, check out Amazon’s specific list of prohibited supplements here.
Drugs & drug paraphernalia
Pro tip: Be careful if you’re selling a beauty product and making “drug” claims. For example, a cleanser that treats acne qualifies as a drug claim because it treats a skincare ailment.
- Butane Honey Oil “BHO” extractors and kits
- Bongs and all related accessories
- Dab kits
- Pipes made from metal, most woods, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic
- “Rose in a Glass” pipes and similar products
- Vaporizers and all related accessories
- Wired cigarette papers
- Nitrous Oxide Crackers
- Drug purity testing kits
- Products where the serial number has been removed or altered
- Products designed to intentionally block, jam or interfere with police radar, laser signals, or traffic signals, such as laser and radar shifters
- Products that descramble, or gain access to cable or satellite television without permission
- Listings for information or guides on “how to” de-scramble cable or satellite television without permission
- Programmed Smart Cards
- Products that promote or facilitate the infringement of or unauthorized access to copyrighted content, such as DVD duplicators that bypass copyright protections, Blu-ray players that have been modified to disable region coding
- Jailbroken iPhones, cell phone unlocking devices (such as unlock codes for Blackberry), and cell phones with bad electronic serial numbers (ESNs)
- Micro SIM cards modified from standard size SIM cards
- Any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by “USB Implementers Forum Inc.”
- Cylindrical lithium ion cell battery types: 14500, 16340, 18650, 20700, 21700, and 26650
Explosives, Weapons, and Related Items
Amazon prohibits the listing or sale of firearm ammunition and ammunition components for assault weapons, black powder guns, handguns, muzzleloaders, pistols, shotguns, and rifles. This includes:
- Firearm ammunition
- Assault weapons and accessories
- Bullets and casings
- Gun powder
- Fireworks and grenades
- Switchblades and throwing stars
- Brass, plastic, or metal knuckles including spiked keychains or rings
- Billy clubs or bludgeons
For the entire list of prohibited items in this category, review Amazon’s extensive index here.
Food & Beverage
Generally, as long as you’re not selling alcohol, drugs, or products that do not meet federal food inspection or import requirements, you can probably sell most food/beverage items.
However, of your product is organic, claims to contain organic ingredients, or uses the USDA organic seal, it must meet all USDA organic regulations.
Here is a general list of prohibited food and beverage items that cannot be sold on Amazon:
- Products containing horse meat
- Products containing any meat imported from China
- Kaffir lime leaves imported from Thailand
- Infant formula products that do not meet Food & Drug Administration (FDA) premarketing requirements, including goat’s milk infant formula, HIPP formula and milk products
- Betel nut products or products containing betel nut flavoring
- Poppy seeds that are not approved brands per Amazon policy or are sold in pack sizes larger than 1 pound
Gambling & Lottery
Gambling and lottery items cannot be sold on Amazon unless the items are nonfunctional, created as a display, or is a toy. That means that the items listed below are prohibited:
- Lottery tickets
- Coin-operated slot machines
- Slot machines that can be converted to use coins or currency
Hazardous and Dangerous Items
As mentioned above, hazardous and dangerous items may sometimes be listed as Amazon products but may not be able to be fulfilled by Amazon.
These items are classified as hazardous and dangerous items that can never be listed for sale:
- Products containing Bisphenol A (BPA)
- Items containing Carbon Tetrachloride, such as fire extinguishers, refrigerants, cleaning agents, or any chemical substance not intended for general consumer purchase
- Explosives, such as black powder, caps for toy guns, firecrackers, party poppers, or gasoline
- Sky lanterns or floating lanterns
- Bacteria cultures or other products containing E coli or Escherichia coli
- Hydrofluoric acid, cyanide, and nitric acid
- Inflatable Neck Floats for children
- Military-style gas masks and their filters
- Liquid mercury and products containing mercury, such as automotive switches, batteries, manometers, thermometers, toys, and so on
- Wheel weights
- Individual magnets and magnet sets that are marketed or commonly used as manipulative or construction items for entertainment, such as puzzle working, sculpture building, mental stimulation, or stress relief. The following magnet set brands are specifically prohibited for sale: Buckyballs, nanodots, puzzle spheres, and so on
- Vehicle airbags and airbag covers
- Toy crossbows that have the capability of shooting small, sharp projectiles (e.g., toothpicks, pins)
Human Parts & Burial Artifacts
The general rule of thumb here is that if it’s a biohazard, coveted black market item, or belongs in a museum, you probably can’t use Amazon to sell it.
These human parts and burial artifacts are not permitted for sale:
- Human body parts, such as blood, eggs, organs, sperm, or tissue
- Human remains
- Human waste and bodily fluids
- Historical grave markers or tombstones
- Native American burial items
- Artifacts removed from Native American land, federal or state land, or a battlefield site
Jewelry & Precious Gems
In order to protect its customers from counterfeit items, Amazon has some pretty strict requirements in order to sell within the jewelry and precious gems category.
Examples of prohibited listings include:
- Gold or silver products that are not stamped in compliance with applicable laws
- Products that do not comply with the FTC’s Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries
- Irradiated gemstones, unless the sale has been authorized by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Diamonds that do not comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
- Clarity-enhanced white diamonds
- Glass-filled rubies
Laser pointers are generally not allowed on Amazon. There are, of course, exceptions. Here’s the breakdown of prohibited laser products that cannot be sold on Amazon:
- Children’s toys with lasers that exceed hazard class I
- Laser products in hazard classes IIIB and IV are not authorized for sale by the FDA in the United Sates without a variance
To sell lighting on Amazon, your products have to comply with all federal, state, and local laws. Items that don’t meet these standards cannot be sold on Amazon:
- Light bulbs and other lamps that violate applicable energy efficiency standards.
- Adapters or converters designed to allow an incandescent lamp or lightbulb that does not have a medium screw base to be installed into a fixture or lampholder with a medium screw base socket that is capable of being operated at a voltage within 110 and 130 volts.
Lock Picking & Theft Devices
You may have heard the internet’s “hack” of purchasing a master key for your apartment’s washing/dryer machines to avoid paying with quarters.
Listing anything that could help commit crimes is prohibited. Here are a few examples of lock picking and theft devices that you cannot sell on Amazon:
- Lock picking or locksmithing devices, such as:
- Autolock bypass keys or jigglers
- Concealed handcuff keys
- Digital decoders
- Lock picking cards and lock picking guns
- Lock picking sets
- Tension bars
- Training locks
- Try-out keys
- Tubular lock picks
- Devices designed to duplicate a key
- Shoplifting devices, including sensormatic detachers
- Card skimming devices
- Code grabbing devices
- Master keys or skeleton keys
Medical devices and accessories
Medical devices and accessories are generally permitted. These are the items that are prohibited for all sellers:
- Diabetic test strips that are pre-owned or test strips not authorized for sale in the U.S.
- Products that have been altered to change the product’s performance, safety specifications, or indications of use
- Products that FDA has determined present an unreasonable risk of injury or illness, such as ear candles or zappers
- Products for which a premarket notification or premarket approval is required but have not yet been FDA cleared or approved
- Products that have passed their expiration or “use by” dates
- Products labeled as “tester,” “not for retail sale,” or “not intended for resale”
- Products that are marketed as unapproved or unregistered medical devices, such as Psoriasis lamps and certain menstrual cups
- Products that have been the subject of criminal enforcement, injunctions, seizures, or warning letters
- Products that incorporate Class IIIB lasers (such as laser light show projectors) and Class IV lasers (for example, industrial lasers)
- Listings claiming that a product is intended to be used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in humans unless the claim is cleared or approved by the FDA, or do not require such approval
- Products that are adulterated or misbranded
- Products that contain mercury, such as thermometers and batteries
- Used and refurbished medical devices
Offensive and Controversial Materials
Amazon does not allow products that graphically portray, promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, victims of violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views. Amazon’s Offensive Products policies apply to all products except books, music, video and DVD.
Listings that are deemed offensive are prohibited and can be removed without warning at any time in addition to suspending seller privileges, destroying inventory in fulfillment centers, and withholding of payments.
Examples of prohibited offensive products include:
Violence, Intolerance, and Hate
- Products that contain violent or offensive material that has no historical significance. Amazon reserves the right to make a determination on the historical value of the item.
- Products that promote, incite, or glorify hate or violence towards any person or group. This includes products that contain violent or offensive material that has no historical significance. Amazon reserves the right to make a determination on the historical value of the item.
- Products that promote or glorify suicide
- Products related to terrorist organizations
- Products that promote or glorify people that have been found guilty of violent or sexual crimes.
- Products that promote intolerance based on race, religion, and sexual orientation.
- Products that contain racially derogatory language
Human Tragedies and Disasters
- Products related to human tragedies and natural disasters
Child Abuse and Exploitation
- Products that depict child abuse/exploitation
- Products intended for use by children that contains adult content, profanity and/or sexual references
- Products depicting children or characters resembling children in a sexually suggestive manner
- Products marketed to or targeted at kids or teenagers that are age-inappropriate
Other Restricted Products
Most of these “other restricted products” overlap into other restricted categories. These include:
- Confederate flag merchandise
- Domain names
- Drop-side cribs
- Ethanol products that are advertised as not being denatured, advertised as not having a bittering agent, or advertised as consumable
- Event tickets, such as concert tickets and sporting events tickets
- Real or replica government, law enforcement, security, or military or paramilitary badges, identification documents, birth certificates, passports, licenses, patches, collars, or tags
- Listings that redirect any customers from the Amazon.com site into any other sales channel with the exception of advertisements that are part of the Amazon Product Ads
- Magic Wine Decanter
- “Mystery boxes,” “Surprise boxes,” or similarly named products containing items that are not clearly described on the product detail page
- Products intended to be used to produce an illegal product or undertake an illegal activity
- Products made available by digital download, including “codes” that can be used to access content on other websites or services
- Products that contain asbestos, especially corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, and flooring felt
- Products that contain Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), such as some electrical equipment, plasticizers in paint, carbonless copy paper, and other industrial products
- Products that include any likeness of the seals of the President, Vice President, Senate, House of Representatives, or Congress
- Products that infringe upon an individual’s privacy, such as the sale of marketing lists and personal information
- Products that are recreational boats without a proper Manufacturer Identification Code (MIC) and do not have a valid Hull Identification Number (HIN)
- Products with the serial number removed or altered
- Real property or real estate
- Solutions manuals intended to be used by teachers, proctors, or official examiners (textbooks and solutions manuals for students are permitted)
- Teacher’s editions of textbooks in any format, such as:
- Hardcopy or softcover books
- eBook, CD-R, DVD or other electronic versions of teacher’s editions
- UPC Barcode Labels and EAN Codes, including EAN Code generators
- Used or refurbished gas connectors
- Video game bundles (e.g., bundles of products sold together, such as the “Sony PlayStation Portable Bundle with 5 Games”) without pre-approval by Amazon
- Your Baby Can Read products
- Products made from cotton sourced in Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan
- “Washington Redskins” merchandise
Pesticides and Pesticide Devices
Pesticides, in our experience, have been a difficult category to list in because of its requirements. That’s because products that make any antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, or other pesticidal claims (for example, products marketed to disinfect, repel insects, remove allergens, or prevent bacteria), may be considered pesticides or pesticide devices under EPA regulations, even if the products would not otherwise be considered pesticides or pesticide devices under the EPA’s definition of a pesticide.
With that in mind, here are a few examples of prohibited pesticide products:
- Unregistered pesticides (for example, insecticide chalk, tres pasitos)
- Pesticide products and pesticide devices sold by non-U.S. residents
- Pesticide products not intended for sale in the U.S.
- Pesticide devices that were manufactured in a location or facility other than an EPA-registered establishment, that lack a clearly visible EPA establishment number on the label, or that make false or misleading claims
- Restricted use pesticides, which are not to be available for purchase or use by the general public
- Products labeled for use by individuals/firms licensed or registered by the state to apply termiticide products
- Products not registered with the EPA and all applicable state and local laws that make a pesticide claim, including those that may be subject to specific state registration requirements, unless subject to one of the limited exclusions below
- Pesticide products that make false or misleading claims or are otherwise misbranded (for example, claims regarding the safety of the pesticide or its ingredients, such as “safe”, “non-poisonous”, “non-injurious”, “harmless”, “non-toxic”, or “all natural”)
- Pesticide products that make public health claims (for example, products marketed to control or mitigate any disease, infection, or pathological condition)
- Mosquito repellent bracelets and stickers that are not approved brands per Amazon policy. Approved Brands: Bugables, BugBand, BuggyBands, BuggyBeds, Cliganic, Coleman, Cutter, Evergreen Research, Mosquitno, Mosquito Guard, OFF!, Ortho, Para’Kito, Pic, Repel, RiptGear, Safer Brand, Sawyer, Scentpellent, Summit, Superband, Terro, Thermacell
- Pesticide products that are in broken packaging or are being sold in a quantity or amount different from what is listed on the label approved by the EPA
Plant and Seed Products
Plants, plant products, and seeds with the characteristics detailed below cannot be sold on Amazon:
- Designated by the USDA as “noxious” or similarly classified by applicable state or local government authorities;
- Subject to federal, state, or local government quarantines (such as the USDA’s citrus canker quarantine or the Washington State grape virus quarantine);
- Taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of the Lacey Act;
- Dangerous or fatal when touched or consumed (such as the pong pong seed);
- Imported from outside of the U.S. or sold by a non-U.S. resident; and,
- Not in compliance with all other legal, regulatory, and licensing requirements.
Postage Meters and Stamps
Current postage stamps, collectible stamps, and supplies related to postage meters can be sold on Amazon. Prohibited listings that cannot be sold on Amazon include:
- Listings for sale or lease of postage meters
- Counterfeit stamps
- Equipment designed to create counterfeit stamps
- USPS U.S. Flag Forever stamps
In addition to Amazon’s list of prohibited products, any item recalled by the manufacturer or any government agency (CPSC, NHTSA, FDA, USDA-FSIS, EPA) is prohibited.
Refrigerants: Ozone-Depleting Substances and Substitutes
Refrigerants that harm the earth’s ozone layer (commonly called “ozone-depleting substances” or ODS) are regulated by the EPA. Except for a few exceptions, Class I, Class II, and Substitutes can only be sold, distributed, or offered for sale or distribution to buyers who have been certified as technicians through EPA-approved certification programs.
Therefore, these products are not permitted for sale on Amazon:
- Class I and Class II ODS: EPA publishes a complete list of Class I and Class II ODSs. Some of the more common Class I ODS are R-12, halon, and methyl bromide. Some of the more common Class II ODS are Freon (also called R-22 and HCFC-22) and HCFC 142b
- Substitute Refrigerants: Substitute Refrigerants is a broad category and generally includes chemicals or products that are used as substitutes for Class I and Class II ODS to cool and transfer heat. Some common Substitutes include R-134a and R-441a
Subscriptions and Periodicals
Any subscription or periodical listings that offer physical and/or digital subscriptions to a product or service are prohibited.
Only single copies of back issues of a publication can be sold on Amazon.
Hidden video surveillance equipment and communication-hindering devices cannot be sold on Amazon. Here is a closer look at the types of products that are prohibited:
- Can be used to secretly intercept or record wire, oral, or electronic communications (i.e., eavesdropping or wiretapping), such as bugging devices, wiretapping devices, or audio-only or audio/video devices that are disguised to look like something that is not designed to record sound
- Used for hacking, descrambling, or otherwise obtaining unauthorized access to wire, electronic, or other types of communication
- Designed to facilitate the surreptitious viewing or recording of individuals for sexual purposes
Tobacco & Tobacco-Related Products
Certain tobacco-related products are permitted, as long as they do not contain tobacco and are approved for OTC use.
Examples of prohibited listings include:
- Tobacco, or any product that contains tobacco, such as blunt wraps, cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco
- Electronic cigarettes and related products (regardless of whether they contain nicotine) like “aromatherapy pens,” nicotine nebulizers, and similar products
- Smokeless tobacco products such as chew, dip, and snuff
- Products, including without limitation, hats, t-shirts, and lighters, with cigarette or smokeless tobacco brands or logos
- Drug paraphernalia
Warranties, Service Plans, Contracts, and Guarantees
Listings for the sale of services, warranties, and related offers on Amazon are restricted to sellers that are pre-approved by Amazon.
If you are not a pre-approved seller, listings for services, warranties, and other similar offers, such as the following, are prohibited:
- Extended service warranties
- Money-back guarantees
- Replacement plans
- Service contracts
- Buy-back guarantee programs
- Investment services
It’s not always clear what can and cannot be sold on Amazon. Things like home decor, beauty, and supplements are common things you wouldn’t think would be so regulated on Amazon!
If you’re in the middle of product research, taking notes on what can and what cannot be sold on Amazon is an important step. It’ll save you the time and inevitable headache that comes with needing to reinstate your Seller account or get your listings back up.
For the most part, if you’re a brand that sells consumer products that:
1.) can’t be used to commit illegal activities
2.) aren’t dangerous to the general public
3.) can’t be used to create/use/distribute controlled substances
4.) aren’t a collectible item that requires expert opinion
5.) aren’t regulated by a government agency
Chances are you won’t have any problems selling new products on Amazon.
We hope that this list has helped you dodge a tanked product, figure out what steps you need to take, and has helped you determine what your next best-seller is!
If you’ve gotten the go-ahead from Amazon to sell in any of these restricted categories, check out how to best optimize your listings for conversions.