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Get Approval in Amazon Restricted Categories in 2023

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2023 Update: 

In order to provide ecommerce entrepreneurs with all the information they need to succeed with their Amazon ventures—from launch, to first sale, to growth and scaling—we’ve updated our content for 2023. 

Looking to start an ecommerce business? Check out our updated guides for How to Sell on Amazon, How to Sell on Walmart.com, and How to Sell on eBay in 2023.

Does this situation sound familiar? After doing your homework, you find the perfect product to sell on Amazon — it’s in demand, and competition is low. Its sales potential is almost limitless.  

But, after some additional research, you find out that you might not be able to sell it because it falls into one of Amazon’s restricted categories. 

Of course, even though it may require some additional work, it is possible to sell in one of Amazon’s gated categories. In fact, according to respondents of a recent Jungle Scout survey of more than 1,000 Amazon sellers, 7% are successfully selling in gated categories.

Restricted categories, however, do have rules and regulations. 

So let’s go over what we need to know about category and product restrictions on Amazon, gated categories, and how to get ungated.

What are Amazon’s product compliance and safety regulations?

When it comes to Amazon’s compliance and safety regulations, there are two sets of rules we need to follow: those for restricted categories, and those for restricted categories products.

Categories requiring Amazon-approval

Because the regulations for Amazon gated categories are different from one to the next, Amazon has no single set of determining factors with respect to whether or not you can list within a specific category without having to provide additional information for approval. 

But, if you do require Amazon’s okay before selling in a particular category, the approval process may mean paying additional fees, submitting to performance checks, and any other actions Amazon deems necessary.

What categories are gated on Amazon? 

As we mentioned earlier, Amazon is moving away from applying restrictions in the broader categories. Instead, it’s restricting entry for sub-category niches. That’s why the list of restricted categories is significantly shorter than that of the restricted products (more on this below).

This is a current list of Amazon-gated categories:

How to sell in restricted categories

No two Amazon-restricted categories have the same method of getting ungated, and some are much easier to sell in than others. 

Here is a short how-to guide for some of Amazon’s gated categories* according to Amazon itself, sources around the web, and my own experience.

Collectible Coins

Collectible coins are rare and special edition minted coins targeted at collectors.

Amazon says:

  • Unless 100% of the seller’s products are from a legally recognized government mint and comply with the additional product requirements, or 100% of the seller’s items are graded by the approved graders and comply with the additional product requirements then the seller must maintain membership in one of the following organizations:
    • PNG – Professional Numismatist Guild
    • ICTA – Industry Council for Tangible Assets
    • PCGS – Professional Coin Grading Service
    • NGC/PMG – Numismatic Grading Corporation/Paper Money Guarantee
  • 70% or more of the seller’s inventory must be graded by NGC or PCGS, or be from a legally recognized government mint.
  • If the seller qualifies as a dealer of precious metals, precious stones, or jewels under 31 C.F.R. Part 1027, seller has implemented an anti-money laundering program in compliance with Federal Regulation 31 C.F.R. § 1027.210, and will, upon Amazon’s request, provide copies of the seller’s anti-money laundering program to Amazon.
  • Professionally graded / authenticated coins are only acceptable from NGC or PCGS.
  • All coins listed at or above $1,500 must be graded by PCGS or NGC, or they will not be allowed in the store.
  • Ungraded coins must be listed as Graded by the seller unless they are in original government packaging and can be listed accordingly.
  • “Unsearched” bags, rolls, tubes, jars, or any other unknown bulk coins sales are not allowed. The detail page must clearly identify to the customer the specific coins they are purchasing.
  • Sellers should also provide a link to their company website where we can view the products which they wish to sell.

Currently, Amazon is no longer accepting new Seller applications for this category.

Entertainment Collectibles

Like other collectibles, entertainment collectibles are products related to film or television that are signed, special edition, or possess some other quality that would raise the value of the product for collectors.

Amazon says:

  • Sellers must remain on the Professional Seller plan.
  • Sellers must maintain seller performance metrics (aka Customer Metrics) at or below Amazon’s required levels:
    • Order defect rate (ODR) must be less than 1%.
    • Pre-fulfillment cancellation rate must be less than 2.5%.
    • Late shipment rate must be less than 4%.
  • Sellers must comply with all listing requirements for items sold in the Entertainment Collectibles category.
  • Customers must be able to complete all aspects of ordering and purchasing a product using only the Amazon website.

Other sellers say that entertainment collectibles is one of the easier-to-get-into restricted categories. And in terms of the application process for Entertainment Collectibles, sellers are required to send an email to [email protected]; it’s not possible to apply online.

Fine Art

Fine art are one-of-a-kind pieces and not mass produced. Some of these pieces sell for as much as $10,000 or more.

Amazon says:

  • Sellers must be in [the business of selling fine art] for a minimum of three years.
  • They must have “significant online presence through a proprietary or third-party site (examples: 1st Dibs, Artsy, and artnet).”
  • Sellers must have “application of a curatorial element to your gallery selection through yearly exhibition schedules, published essays, or exhibition catalogs.”

Seller evaluations are also based on, but not limited to, the following:

  • Participation in an international, vetted art fair (examples: Frieze, Affordable Art Fair, Pulse, and Scope)
  • Membership in a recognized art organization (examples: Art Dealers Association of America, New Art Dealers Alliance, and Private Art Dealers Association)
  • Caliber of the gallery’s review process for selecting artists and work
  • Diversity of artists

Amazon does not accept the following sellers:

  • Artists representing their own work, or galleries or collaborations of artists that sell their works directly (without curation) to the public
  • Galleries or businesses that provide mass-produced artwork
  • Prints in limited editions over 400
  • Individuals selling estate contents or personal inventory

For mass-produced art, Home & Kitchen has sub-categories for those listings.

Jewelry

The fine jewelry category includes jewelry products that are authenticated and meet Amazon’s Jewelry Quality Assurance Standards. Like Fine Art, fine jewelry pieces sell for much higher prices.

Amazon says:

  • Products must be sold as listed and as characterized in the descriptions, images, and specifications shown on the detail page.
  • All products must meet Amazon’s Jewelry Quality Assurance Standards.
  • Items must be properly set up according to Amazon’s Categorization of Fine vs. Fashion Jewelry guidelines.
  • All products must be authentic (ie. no knock-offs).
  • Listing of items over $300,000 is not allowed in the Jewelry category.
  • Must have the professional seller plan.
  • Sellers applying to list Fine Jewelry must be existing Amazon.com sellers.
  • Sellers must meet these performance criteria to be eligible to apply to sell in the Jewelry category:
    • Order-Defect Rate of 1% or less
    • Cancellation Rate of 2.5% or less
    • Late Shipment Rate of 4% or less

Other sellers say that ‘Fine Jewelry’ is the strictest of all the Amazon restricted categories. Like ‘Fine Art,’ this is a category just for experts. Unless you already own your own jewelry store and have the logistics in place, ignore this category as the barriers to entry are massive.

If you’re interested in selling “non-fine” jewelry, the fashion category is the best place to go.

Sports Collectibles

Sports collectibles are products with signatures, limited editions, and other features that increase the value of the product for collectors.

Amazon says:

  • Maintain an order defect rate lower than 0.75%.
  • Remain on the Professional selling plan.
  • Authenticate or grade a majority of the products listed by one or more of the entities listed below:
    • Ace Authentic
    • Beckett Grading Services
    • Fanatics Authentic
    • Frameworth
    • Grey Flannel
    • Highland Mint
    • Icon Sports Memorabilia
    • James Spence Authentication (JSA)
    • Major League Baseball (MLB Authenticated)
    • MeiGray Group
    • Mounted Memories
    • NFL Players Inc.
    • Panini Authentic
    • Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
    • PSA/DNA Authentication Services
    • Steiner Sports
    • Topps Collectibles
    • Tristar Authentic
    • Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA)
    • Beckett Collectors Club Grading (BCCG)
    • Becket Grading Services (BGS)
    • Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
    • Sportscard Guaranty (SGC)

Third-party grading companies:

  • Beckett Collectors Club Grading (BCCG)
  • Becket Grading Services (BGS)
  • Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
  • Sportscard Guaranty (SGC)

General requirements

  • Product images must be sourced from an independent website or image hosting site, or appear as attachments.
  • Products must be authentic collectibles, rare, exclusive, one-of-a-kind, or otherwise unique items. We do not allow any counterfeit, replica, or knock-off products.
  • Listing data and images must be suitable for all ages and appropriate for our global community. Listing data and images may not depict or contain nudity or pornographic, obscene, or offensive items.
  • Sellers must follow Amazon listing standards for any product sold on Amazon.
    • Sellers must have reviewed the Sports Memorabilia and/or Trading Cards listing templates and agreed to appropriately and accurately classify their products.
    • Seller must submit product titles, bullets, and product descriptions that are clearly written to assist the customer in understanding the product.
  • All product images must meet Amazon site-wide image standards.
    • Sellers must certify that they have reviewed the image guidelines published on Seller Central and that all images they upload conform to the guidelines.
    • Images must have white backgrounds and cannot contain inset images, watermarks, or unauthorized content.
    • Images must be at least 1000 px on the longest side.

If you elect to use the services of, or take advantage of any promotional offers from a third-party authenticator or grading company, you will be contracting directly with that third party, which will be providing services to you at your direction.

Toys & Games (during the holidays)

Amazon limits sales of toys and games to experienced sellers during the holidays. While the toys and games category includes toys for children ages 14 and younger, the category also extends to strategy board games, collectibles, drones, and other products of interest to adults.

Amazon says:

  • You must have processed and shipped a certain number of orders in the months leading up to the start of the holiday season (typically, September 1 through October 31). The orders do not need to be specific to the Toys store.
  • Pre-fulfillment cancel rates must be no greater than 1.75% in the month leading up to the holiday season (typically October).
  • Late shipment rates must be no greater than 4% in the month leading up to the holiday season (typically October).
  • Order defect rates must be no greater than 1% short term as of the first day of the holiday season (typically November 1).

Other sellers say that many sellers (especially the newer ones) panic when Amazon sends out their holiday requirements, mostly because their products don’t meet the adjusted standards.

If you plan to sell in ‘Toys and Games’, make sure you know and adhere to the holiday requirements. And make sure you have all your ducks in a row before November hits by bookmarking our Seller Calendar to have those important dates on hand.  

Video, DVDs, & Blu-ray

Any type of video media (DVDs and Blu-rays especially) falls under the Video umbrella.

Amazon says:

  • If you do not have a Professional seller account, you must agree to upgrade to a Professional selling plan within 30 days after your application is approved.
  • Order-Defect Rate (ODR) of 1% or less
  • Cancellation Rate of 2.5% or less
  • Late Shipment Rate of 4% or less
  • Amazon also requires the following information:
    • Your primary source(s) of inventory
    • An estimate of the quantity of units you plan to sell
    • A minimum of 3 invoices or purchase orders from your largest inventory source(s) that are representative of the types of items you plan to sell

Other sellers say that Amazon has cracked down hard on the DVD/Blu-ray counterfeit market, and that sellers must now supply invoices showing they’re selling only new DVDs.

For that reason, it’s difficult to sell used DVDs on Amazon.

Watches

Watches include high-end jewelry pieces and brands like Rolex and Tag Heuer. Amazon limits the addition of sellers in the Watches category to ensure that customers can buy confidently from all sellers on Amazon.

Amazon says:

  • For certified pre-owned watches, sellers must be able to test water resistance and timekeeping accuracy.
  • For certified pre-owned watches, sellers must have a professional selling account in good standing.
  • Certified pre-owned watches must meet all requirements established by a third-party watch certification organization, as determined by Amazon.
  • Sellers must meet minimum Seller Performance metrics:
    • Pre-fulfill cancel rate of 2.5% or less
    • ODR 1% or less
    • Late ship 4% or less
  • Sellers must have a Professional selling account in good standing.
  • Watches and watch products must be listed using the manufacturer’s UPC code. 

Sony PlayStation Requirements in Video Games

In order to sell Sony PlayStation products on Amazon, you must be approved by Sony as an authorized reseller. 

According to Amazon, “Sony has unilaterally implemented an Authorized Reseller Program for its video games products that it has applied to its retail partners, including Amazon. Effective December 1, 2021, sellers must be listed as a Sony Authorized Reseller to be eligible to sell Sony PlayStation products on the Amazon store”

If sellers would like to become an authorized reseller of Sony PlayStation products, they can apply directly with Sony.

Restricted products on Amazon

Ultimately, Amazon wants to make sure their customers have the best buying experience possible. To help make that happen, Amazon has additional security measures in place when it comes to products sellers could easily misuse and misrepresent.

What qualifies as a restricted product?

Again, because restrictions vary from product to product, Amazon doesn’t have a singular definition of what constitutes a restricted product. 

They do, however, have general qualifications we should keep in mind while doing our product research.

If you’re selling Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), make sure you review Amazon’s FBA Product Restrictions to see which products cannot be sold FBA.

In place to protect their  over-2 two-billion unique monthly shoppers, Amazon’s restricted categories break down into three basic types: 

  1. Collectibles that have specific condition requirements; 
  2. High-quality expert items; 
  3. And goods regulated by state and/or federal law.

What products are restricted on Amazon?

The list of products restricted on Amazon is long, with the following items currently facing restrictions on the platform:

Though the following products aren’t included on Amazon’s current list of restricted products, they have restrictions as well:

Products are also restricted if:

Additional product restrictions to consider:

  • Certain products are subject to additional regulations in the state of California.
  • If you’re planning to list internationally, you’re responsible for knowing and complying with a country’s laws and regulations.

 

How to apply to get ungated on Amazon:

Thankfully, Amazon has made the approval process for accessing a gated category fairly easy. 

To see if you and your product are eligible, simply go through the following steps:

  • First, login to your Seller Central account.
  • Once you’re on your homepage, click on the ‘Category’ tab located near the top-left of the screen.
  • Next, from the dropdown, select ‘Add Products’.

  • From there, find the item you want to sell.
  • Then, click on ‘Show limitations’ to the left of the product info.
  • Finally, either you’ll be able to click the ‘Request Approval’ button to begin the application process, or you’ll receive a notification saying you are not approved and that applications aren’t being accepted.

 

Amazon’s ‘Prohibited Product Claims’ policy

The last thing Amazon wants is a lawsuit from a buyer claiming they bought a product from an Amazon seller that failed to live up to its listing’s promises. For that reason, Amazon’s product claims policy strictly adheres to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) regulations around “unfair or deceptive” advertising.

That’s also why every seller should take the time to read the FTC’s guidelines around internet marketing. As sellers, we alone are responsible for making sure our product statements are in no way misleading or deceptive.

The mandate of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Advertising Practices is to protect “consumers from unfair or deceptive advertising and marketing practices that raise health and safety concerns, as well as those that cause economic injury.” 

Amazon’s claims policy also bans products that say they can “cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent diseases in humans or animals without FDA approval.”

As for products making environmental claims on Amazon, they mustn’t mislead customers about the qualities or characteristics of the item being sold. 

To guarantee compliance with the FTC’s “Green Guides”, sellers need to familiarize themselves with the regulations around “green” marketing claims. It’s a time investment worth making if you sell a product making an environmental assertion (eg. saying your product was made using renewable energy).

What happens if you violate Amazon category restrictions?

Amazon takes the violation of their policies very seriously. If you’re debating whether or not to bend or break their rules, consider the possible consequences:

  • Your listings could be canceled.
  • They may place limits on your listing privileges.
  • Your listing privileges could be suspended.
  • They may remove your listing privileges altogether.

And once Amazon takes disciplinary action against you, it can be difficult to get reinstated.  

Your safest course of action is to comply with all of Amazon’s rules and regulations.

Why go through the trouble of selling in Amazon gated categories?

Granted, there are some fairly extreme requirements for a number of the restricted categories on Amazon. But, for any seller willing to go that “extra mile,” many of these categories possess huge sales opportunities.

And remember: Look for possibilities where others won’t. It’s the key to your Amazon success.

To find your perfect business opportunity, use Jungle Scout to research product ideas, in categories you’re interested in!

 

 

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