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.
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:
- Collectibles that have specific condition requirements;
- High-quality expert items;
- 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!