Amazon Restricted Categories EXPLAINED – How to get approved to sell?

  • Gordon 

Two million third-party sellers must be right! Amazon is considered one of the best e-commerce platforms in existence to buy and sell products. The exposure and access to millions of customers come with rules, regulations, and guidelines. But do you wonder how to get approved in Amazon restricted categories?

Selling on Amazon can be an easy process. Or you may be required to jump through a few hoops. It depends on what you are trying to sell. Most items can be sold on Amazon, even if they are on the restricted list. However, there are some permanently prohibited.

You will find that some Amazon categories are restricted. Sellers need to get approval to sell products in a restricted category. Many benefits await the seller that is willing to go through the process of getting a product unrestricted. Consider starting the category approval process if you want to expand your Amazon FBA business.

The seller needs to submit detailed information on their specific product or business. Then Amazon can evaluate the seller in these high-risk categories.

You must begin the process soon. It takes time to get approval, so start as soon as possible. If you consider selling on Amazon, there is a good chance you will encounter the restricted product regulation. Submit the product for approval and wait for Amazon’s decision.

When you obtain Amazon’s approval to sell in a particular category, it may mean paying additional fees, undergoing performance checks, or any other action required by Amazon.

If Amazon determines that a category, brand, or product requires a more experienced seller because of low-quality products, damage, or counterfeiting. In that case, restrictions will be imposed for the protection of the customer.

Certain items are more susceptible than others to attracting low quality. The following is a list of items that require approval.

  • Automotive
  • Beauty
  • Collectibles
  • Fine art
  • Fine jewelry and watches
  • Grocery or gourmet food
  • Major appliances
  • Video and DVDs

Putting a restricted status on certain products forces sellers to get direct approval from Amazon.

There are rules for “restricted categories” and those for “restricted products within a category.

First of all, understand some words mean the same thing.

  • Gated and restricted means items that are not approved to sell on Amazon. You will see both of these terms used interchangeably.
  • Ungated and unrestricted means that you are permitted to sell on Amazon. You will see both of these terms used interchangeably.

FBA Prohibitions

What is “FBA”? Fulfillment by Amazon.

Several items are prohibited from being sold by the FBA program. It is the seller’s responsibility to know if the products shipped are forbidden by the program. If forbidden items are shipped to Amazon’s FBA warehouses, it could result in the disposal of the items without reimbursement to the seller.

The items referred to are any product that cannot be lawfully sold and distributed in United States jurisdictions.

When attempting to sell in Amazon’s restricted categories, it is essential to do the following:

  • Read all small print
  • Keep product and purchasing paperwork organized
  • Comply with all Amazon guidelines
  • If unsure of anything, ask

Many of the categories on Amazon that are most desirable maintain selling restrictions or require prior approval. Such items as clothing and accessories, beauty, jewelry, grocery, health, and personal care items fall into this category.

Amazon will be better able to monitor these products’ quality to ensure that the items listed for sale meet customer standards. For sellers, there is greater visibility to market their products and less competition.

How to Become Approved to Sell in Restricted Categories

There’s no step-by-step guide to lead you through this process of getting approved to sell in Amazon restricted categories because every category has different restrictions and limitations.

Therefore we will review all restricted categories in order to help you figure out where are you at in terms of restrictions and how to get approved.

We will go later more into detail but here are the main 15 tips for getting approved to sell in Amazon restricted categories.

  1. Do not use liquidation sites, cash and carry, or clearance. Be sure to use a proper wholesaler.
  2. Regard the process of getting unrestricted as a separate process from selling in the gated category. There are many steps to becoming ungated, be sure to “tick” all the boxes.
  3. In the ungating application, do not use Private Label products. Use local wholesalers. Once ungated, then sell your Private Label products in that category.
  4. Make sure the product has a matching ASIN available for purchase.
  5. Make sure the products you are trying to ungate do not appear in a non-gated category. Your application may fail.
  6. When choosing products for the ungating process, choose one that can either be used at home or easily sold on Amazon or eBay. You are not trying to make a profit on these items. The items chosen for ungating do not need to be sold on Amazon.
  7. Locate a wholesaler that carries a variety of products to ungate in more than one restricted category to save on delivery.
  8. Give yourself the best chance at success. Don’t do it cheaply. The benefits of getting an Amazon category approval make the effort worth it.
  9. Make your application easy for the Amazon representative. Please give them a reason to approve your application!
  10. Ensure you have invoices date recently or within 90 days.
  11. Ensure that the details on the invoices are not handwritten, and the details match the exact name and address of your Seller Account.
  12. Buy enough or more products to satisfy the requirements of your category.
  13. When you have found a wholesaler, contact Amazon to check their status. Amazon will not give you a list of wholesalers to use but will say YES or NO to a particular wholesaler.
  14. Getting ungated can be a transformation for your business. The process can be straightforward, really challenging, or in between. It may take several attempts. Just keep jumping through those hoops.
  15. Every month check subcategories to check your status. As your seller account becomes more established, you will find you are getting more subcategories auto-approved.

If you follow these tips carfully you will be doubling your chances to get approved to sell in restricted categories.

First steps of the process are pretty simple.

Ensure that you can sell on Amazon. There are two ways you can obtain this information.

  • Log in to Seller Central on Amazon.
    • Hover over inventory.
    • Click on “add a product.”
    • Enter an ASIN or UPC to check your restrictions for that item.
    • If a “sell yours” button appears, then you are not prohibited from selling that item.
  • Another way to check for restriction status is to use the Amazon Seller App.
    • Scan the barcode of the item or enter the barcode under “Add a Product.”
    • If you are restricted, a message will appear “Requires Approval.”

Second, become a professional seller on Amazon.

That is the first step to gain approval to sell in restricted categories. The professional seller pays a monthly professional premium to gain access.

Once you are a professional seller, there are additional requirements to be met, depending on the category. The requirements can be:

  • providing invoices from suppliers
  • photos of the merchandise to be sold
  • uploading your Excel files on your products (“flat files”)
  • answering basic questions about your business plan

What to Do if You Have Been Restricted from Selling

If you have been restricted once, it doesn’t mean that you cannot apply for approval again. The process may be quick and uncomplicated, or Amazon may ask for more information as part of their approval procedure.

You may need to provide a letter from a brand owner or manufacturer. Don’t pay a fee unless you are totally confident that your source is a provider of high-quality, profitable products, and your relationship with them would be for the long-term.

Understand that you may still be restricted after this process. But it shouldn’t be regarded as a permanent rejection.

The longer your relationship is with Amazon, the better your seller metrics become. Once they have attained a certain level, the restrictions will be lifted because Amazon will regard you as a dependable seller.

It is suggested that you keep applying. It may be six months (or less!), but it is worth the effort.

Check your active approval applications on Seller Central.

  • Go to inventory
  • Click “add a product”
  • Scroll down to “manage your selling applications”
  • You will see your application(s).
  • Click on one or more and receive a notification of approval or a request for more information

It is essential to put reminders on your calendar to check your approval status. They could auto-approve as your selling metrics improve.

Why Are Restrictions Imposed on Sellers?

  • Safety and liability
  • Supply chain control
  • Brand integrity
  • Quality control
  • Consumer confidence

Amazon desires to protect its customers, employees, sellers, and contractors from health or legal issues resulting from Amazon’s products.

The products that have the firmest restriction placed on them are products that are deemed unsafe. They will likely be restricted for all sellers and on a site-wide basis.

What Types of Restrictions For Sellers are on Amazon?

Because the regulations for gated categories differ from one to another, there is no single factor that determines whether an item can be sold within a specific category. Additional information may be required for approval. There are multiple types of restrictions. They are:

Brand Level Restrictions

Many of these restrictions are implemented by the brands themselves, and Amazon enforces them. Amazon will restrict and monitor the sales of certain brands. Although they do not maintain an official list, it would include the brands most vulnerable to counterfeiting, such as well-known brands, desirable, and popular brands. Amazon may ask sellers to submit the products for approval prior to selling.

The brand does this when they want to control their supply chain. It allows them to maximize earnings, control the prices, and eliminate counterfeiting of their products. In these cases, the brand owner or Amazon has decided that approval must be obtained to protect the brand.

However, you can’t assume that the brand-level restriction set by the brand is firm. It is possible to get brand-level approval. This is where a seller’s account metrics come into play.

It may involve brands such as:

  • Apple
  • Burberry
  • Coach
  • Chanel
  • Cuisinart
  • Hasbro
  • Lancȏme
  • Nike
  • Sony

Category restrictions

Occasionally, you will see that Amazon has restricted an entire category. For example, beauty, grocery, shoes, or clothing may be restricted. You would need approval to sell these items.

When attempting to sell in Amazon’s restricted categories, it is essential to do the following:

  • Read all small print
  • Keep the product and purchasing paperwork organized
  • Comply with all Amazon guidelines
  • If unsure of anything, ask

Many of the categories on Amazon that are most desirable maintain selling restrictions or require prior approval. Such items as clothing and accessories, beauty, jewelry, grocery, health, and personal care items fall into this category.

Amazon will be better able to monitor these products’ quality to ensure that the items listed for sale meet customer standards. For sellers, there is greater visibility to market their products and less competition.

New sellers may find that items are gated for them for a certain amount of time.

Amazon may ungate a category for all sellers at any time.

Sub-category restrictions exist when a category is ungated, but certain items within that category will be gated. You will need to obtain approval prior to selling that item. For example, you may have the approval to sell Toys and Games but not approved for Learning Game Toys or Building Blocks.

These categories are currently restricted on Amazon.

  • Automotive and Powersports
  • Collectible coins
  • Entertainment collectibles
  • Fine art
  • Holiday selling requirements in toys and games
  • Jewelry
  • Join Amazon Handmade
  • Join Amazon Subscription Boxes
  • Made in Italy
  • Music and DVD
  • Persona safety and household products
  • Services
  • Sports collectibles
  • Streaming media players
  • Video, DVD, and Blu-ray
  • Watches

Prohibited Listings That Are Permitted

Even though these items would fall into the hazardous item category, they are permitted.

  • Cosmetics, skin, or hair care products in the original packaging, appropriately described and labeled.
  • Empty portable gas cans
  • Pesticides that comply with government regulations
  • Rechargeable batteries

When it comes to selling restricted products, certain things are restricted to all sellers, such as alcohol and guns. Some things are restricted on a seller by seller basis. These are the ones for which the restrictions can be lifted.

  • Collectible coins
  • Entertainment collectibles
  • Fine Art
  • Join Amazon Handmade
  • Join Amazon Subscription Boxes
  • Music and DVD
  • Services
  • Streaming media players
  • Sports collectibles
  • Video, DVD, and Blue-ray

ASIN restrictions

ASINs, the unique letter-number combination assigned to each product page on Amazon, will require approval prior to listing that product for sale.

What are Open Categories on Amazon?

Let’s discuss open categories. They are available to sell without any specific permission. However, basic selling guidelines must be followed. You must provide photos and descriptions and be signed up as either an individual or a professional seller. The following items require no approval.

  • Amazon device accessories
    • New, certified refurbished, used
    • Selling guidelines are in place
  • Amazon Kindle
    • Used
  • Baby Items, excluding apparel
    • New
    • Some sub-categories require approval
  • Beauty
    • New
  • Books
    • New, certified refurbished, used
    • Guidelines for collectible books in place
  • Camera and photo
    • New, certified, refurbished, used
  • Cell phones and accessories
    • New, used, certified refurbished, unlocked
    • Selling guidelines in place
  • Consumer electronics
    • New, certified refurbished, used
    • Specific products may require pre-approval
  • Grocery and gourmet food
    • New
    • Selling guidelines in place
  • Health and personal care
    • New
    • Some sub-categories require approval
  • Home and garden
    • New, certified refurbished, used, collectible
  • Industrial and scientific
    • New, certified refurbished, used
    • Selling guidelines in place
  • Kindle accessories, Amazon Fire TV accessories
    • New, certified refurbished, used
  • Major appliances
    • New, certified refurbished, used
  • Musical instruments
    • New, certified refurbished, used, collectible
  • Office products
    • New, certified refurbished, used, collectible
  • Outdoors
    • New, certified refurbished, used
    • Certain sub-categories require approval
  • Personal computers
    • New, certified refurbished, used
    • Certain sub-categories require approval
  • Pet supplies
    • New, certified refurbished, used
    • Certain sub-categories require approval
  • Software
    • New, used
    • Approval may be required for certain products
  • Sports
    • New, certified refurbished, used
  • Tools and home improvement
    • New, certified, refurbished, used
  • Toys and games
    • New, collectible
    • Certain sub-categories require approval
    • Approval might be needed to sell during holidays
  • Video games
    • New, used, collectible
    • Approval may be required for specific products

What Are the Advantages of Selling in a Restricted or Gated Category?

It is understood that there are extreme requirements in place for selling in restricted categories. But for someone willing to do a little extra work, the payoff can be significant. Many of the restricted categories possess tremendous sales opportunities. Look for opportunities where others may not. That will be the key to your success with Amazon.

Restrictions on certain items can happen on any item to any seller regardless of the length of time you have been selling. If you feel you have come up with the perfect product to reap instant rewards, you may be restricted from selling it.

But according to experts, there are ways of reversing an initial decision. But the seller needs to be patient, as it can take several months.

What Defines a Restricted Product?

Because restrictions vary based on the product, there is no singular definition of a restricted product. There are general qualifications that should be remembered during product research.

If you are selling FBA, review the product restrictions to see what products cannot be sold by FBA.

  • Collectibles with specific condition requirements
  • Goods regulated by state and/or federal law
  • High-quality expert items
  • A category requires an Amazon approval before you list it
  • Additional information is required or a supplemental guarantee before you list
  • Products that claim an “FDA Cleared” status or “FDA Approved” or those that display an FDA logo.
  • Certain products are subject to additional regulations in California.
  • If planning on listing internationally, you are responsible for knowing and complying with the country’s laws and guidelines.

Though these products are not on Amazon’s current list of restricted products, they do have restrictions.

  • Ink and toner cartridges
  • Software
  • Textbooks

Amazon is gradually moving from applying restrictions in broad categories. Instead, they are restricting entry into sub-category niches. That is why the list of restricted categories is somewhat shorter than the list of restricted products.

These categories are currently restricted on Amazon.

  • Automotive and Powersports
  • Collectible coins
  • Entertainment collectibles
  • Fine art
  • Holiday selling requirements in toys and games
  • Jewelry
  • Join Amazon Handmade
  • Join Amazon Subscription Boxes
  • Made in Italy
  • Music and DVD
  • Persona safety and household products
  • Services
  • Sports collectibles
  • Streaming media players
  • Video, DVD, and Blu-ray
  • Watches

Prohibited Listings That Are Permitted

Even though these items would fall into the hazardous item category, they are permitted.

  • Cosmetics, skin, or hair care products in the original packaging, appropriately described and labeled.
  • Empty portable gas cans
  • Pesticides that comply with government regulations
  • Rechargeable batteries

When it comes to selling restricted products, certain things are restricted to all sellers, such as alcohol and guns. Some things are restricted on a seller by seller basis. These are the ones for which the restrictions can be lifted.

  • Collectible coins
  • Entertainment collectibles
  • Fine Art
  • Join Amazon Handmade
  • Join Amazon Subscription Boxes
  • Music and DVD
  • Services
  • Streaming media players
  • Sports collectibles
  • Video, DVD, and Blue-ray

What are the categories that are entirely restricted?

It is the seller’s responsibility to follow and understand the prohibited listing rules set forth by Amazon. Some items are entirely restricted, some due to their potentially hazardous nature. These products are listed below.

  • Alcohol
  • Animals and animal-related products
  • Art – fine art and home décor
  • Composite wood products
  • Counterfeit products
  • Cosmetics, skin, and hair care
    • Those that require a prescription
    • Products that are adulterated
    • Misbranded products
    • Products past their expiration date
    • Not sealed in original manufacturer’s packaging
  • Currency, gift cards, coins, cash equivalents
  • Dietary supplements
  • Drugs and paraphernalia
  • Electronics
  • Explosives, weapons, related items
  • Export controls
  • Food and beverage
  • Gambling and lottery
  • Hazardous or dangerous items
  • Human parts or burial artifacts
  • Illegal products
  • Jewelry or precious gems
  • Laser products
  • Lighting
  • Lock picking or theft devices
  • Medical devices or accessories
  • Offensive or controversial materials
  • Pesticides or pesticide devices
  • Plants, plant products, or seeds
  • Postage meters or stamps
  • Powersports or automotive
  • Prescriptions
  • Recalled products
  • Recycled electronics
  • Refrigerants, ozone-depleting substances, or substitutes
  • Sex or sensuality
  • Subscriptions or periodicals
  • Surveillance equipment
  • Tobacco or tobacco-related items
  • Unsafe products
    • Bacteria cultures
    • Black powder
    • Explosives
    • Firecrackers
    • Products containing mercury
    • Used oil
  • Warranties, service plans, guarantees, or contracts
  • Other restricted products

What Happens if You Violate Restriction Policy?

Before going any further, it is essential to note that Amazon takes the violation of any of the policies seriously. Whether or not the violation was intentional, you should consider the consequences.

  • Your listing could be canceled
  • There could be limits imposed on your listing privileges
  • Suspension of your listing privileges
  • Privileges terminated permanently

When disciplinary action has been taken against you, it can be challenging to get back in good standing. The safest course of action is to follow the rules and guidelines from the beginning.

Amazon’s Prohibited Product Claims Policy

Amazon does not want a lawsuit from a purchaser claiming they bought something from an Amazon seller that failed to live up to its promises on the listing. Because of this, Amazon’s product claims policy strictly follows the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) regulations regarding “deceptive or unfair” advertising.

Every seller needs to read the FTC’s guidelines regarding marketing on the internet. Sellers are responsible for making sure their product statements are not misleading or deceptive.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Division of Advertising Practices mandate protects consumers from deceptive or unfair marketing and advertising practices that raise safety and health concerns or economic injury.

The claim policy of Amazon bans products that say they can “cure, treat, prevent, or mitigate diseases in humans or animals without the approval of the FDA.”

Products making environmental claims must not misrepresent their products about the item’s characteristics or qualities.

To guarantee compliance with the FTC’s Green Guide, a seller needs to become familiar with regulations surrounding green marketing claims. It is worth the time if you are attempting to sell a product making an environmental assertion; for example, the product was made using renewable energy.

It is of vital importance to Amazon that customers can shop with confidence. They may require specific qualifications, additional fees, or performance checks. But the sellers must understand it is for the consumer’s protection and safety that these restrictions have been instituted. The amount of effort put into gaining approval to sell in restricted areas will be it.

It means more exposure and will definitely mean more earnings for you, the seller.

You might consider engaging the services of a tool that can enable you to make your selling experience an even more enjoyable one by providing:

  • a product finder
  • advanced super URL
  • adverse review notification
  • Amazon product promotions
  • hijack listing alert
  • keyword rank tracking
  • on-page analyzer
  • product alerts
  • sales tracking

Remember the old saying, “it takes money to make money”? There are times when it is worth spending money to get a tool that will enable you to grow your business. This is one of those times.