On the most prominent online selling platform worldwide, Amazon, there are more than 12 million products available for selling. Many people became very successful in the business of sale after they offered their products on this platform or discovered a profitable product or niche using Amazon Product Finder by IO Scout.
Finding the right niche or product isn't quite easy. Maybe you discovered profitable products with high demand and low competition , but after you have done the additional research, you found that your product falls into Amazon restricted categories. Don't be disappointed. Even though specific categories are restricted, they aren't entirely prohibited. These categories have special rules and requirements you need to live up to if you want to sell items that fall into these categories, and you need to get Amazon's approval before you start trading.
Aldo, it seems like Amazon is making extra obstacles, this approach is actually beneficial for both sellers and customers. Amazon gated categories are created to protect buyers and sellers while providing the best user experience.
What are the gated categories on Amazon?
As mentioned above, specific categories require sellers' proper safety documentation if they want to sell products that fall into these categories. Aldo gated Amazon categories may be frustrating and time-consuming for sellers, the benefits of this program exceed the inconvenience. This program is designed to protect customers and give them the best possible user experience. If the user experience is positive, consumers will keep coming back to this platform, and sellers will get more sales. Whether it's the matter of safety, authenticity, or quality, gated categories assure that customer protection is promoted.
Amazon's gated categories are also created to guard sellers by building customer's trust in their products and by preventing questionable sellers from harming their brand and overall impression. If you sell items within restricted categories, competition is much lower, which will increase the chance for your product to be seen and sold.
This is the list of Amazon gated categories for the US market:
- Automotive and Powersports
- Collectible Coins
- Personal Safety and Household products
- Fine Art
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Toys & Games (This category is restricted during the holiday season)
- Join Amazon Subscription Boxes
- Join Amazon Handmade
- Music and DVD
- Made in Italy
- Streaming Media Players
- Sports Collectibles
- Video, DVD, and Blu-ray
How to sell in restricted categories on Amazon?
Different restricted categories don't have the same requirements or methods for applying to be ungated.
This is a short explanation for various categories and how to get ungated.
Automotive and Powersports category
In this category are products that are used for trucks, cars, and all other motor vehicles. Automotive and Powersports category covers all performance and replacement parts, interior, and exterior accessories, tires, wheels, fluids, tools, equipment, etc.
- You need to be subscribed to Amazon's professional selling plan.
- You need to have appropriate, compliant product photos that can be reviewed on an image hosting website or independent website.
- Products must be listed along with the UPC, especially major brands.
- The manufacturer or remanufacturer must warrant all certified refurbished items.
- You need to check the Automotive & Powersports Part Finder and Fitment Data page in detail if you intend to sell fitment-specific items (products that only fit specific vehicles).
- You may need a professional business website.
Collectible coins represent unique and limited edition minted coins gathered by collectors.
- If coins aren't 100% legally recognized by authority and comply with the additional product requirements, or 100% of the seller's items should be graded by the approved graders and abide by the additional product requirements then the merchant must have membership in one of the organizations:
- Professional Numismatist Guild (PNG)
- Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA)
- Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)
- Numismatic Grading Corporation (NGC)
- Paper Money Guarantee (PMG)
- At least 70%, or more, of the merchant's inventory, must be graded by NGC or PCGS, or be from a legally acknowledged government mint.
- If the merchant is qualified as an official dealer of precious metals, stones, or jewels under the 31 CFR Part 1027, he has performed an anti-money laundering program in agreement with Federal Regulation 31 CFR § 1027.210. Upon Amazon's demand, he needs to provide copies of the merchant's anti-money laundering program.
- Authenticated coins that were professionally graded are only applicable from NGC or PCGS.
- All coins that are listed for $1,500 or more, must be graded by PCGS or NGC, or else, they will be prohibited from this online platform.
- Any unidentified jars, bags, or any coins in bulk are not permitted. Customers must be able to read in the product's detail page precisely what they are purchasing.
- If your business doesn't own the company's website, you may be rejected. Sellers also need to give a link to their business website where products they wish to sell are displayed.
Not many sellers try to break into this category. This is probably the toughest category, with the strictest requirements and rules.
Products such as novelty Bitcoins and fake cash should be listed by the "Toys and Games" or "Clothing, Shoes and Jewelry" categories.
Entertainment collectibles are items associated with the television or film industry, and especially if they are signed or present special editions, they raise the value and draw collectors.
Amazon's requirements for this category:
- The merchant who wishes to sell products in this category must be a part of Amazon's Professional Seller account.
- Merchants must manage Customer Metrics at or below Amazon's required levels:
-ODR or Order Defect Rate needs to be less than 1%
-Pre-fulfillment cancellation rate needs to be below 2.5%
-Late shipment rate needs to be less than 4%
- Dealers are required to comply with all listing demands for items they wish to sell in the Entertainment Collectibles category.
- Buyers need to be able to perform all aspects of ordering and buying an item using only the Amazon website.
Sellers who wish to sell in this restricted category must apply through an e-mail sent to email@example.com because there isn't an online application like in other categories.
Experienced sellers say that this is one of the easiest-to-break gated categories.
Fine Art represents unique, one of a kind art pieces that often cost $10,000 and more. Mass-produced items don't fall under this category, no matter how high their price can be.
- Merchants who wish to sell in this category must be in the Fine Art business for at least three years outside the Amazon platform.
- Sellers need to have a notable online presence with an appropriate business or third-party website.
- Fine Art dealers on Amazon must have the application of a curatorial element to their gallery selection through annual exhibition schedules, published essays, or exhibition catalogs.
Fine Art category is only opened for gallery owners and art agents. Mass-produced art can be sold within appropriate sub-categories in Home & Kitchen category.
Fine jewelry represents authenticated products that need to meet Amazon's Jewelry Quality Assurance Standards. Like Fine Art. These jewelry pieces have high prices and represent high-end products.
- Listed products must be the same as on pictures, specifications, and product detail pages.
- All pieces must live up to Amazon's Jewelry Quality Assurance Standards.
- The product needs to be appropriately set up according to Amazon's Categorization of Fine vs. Fashion Jewelry guidelines.
- Every piece must be 100% authentic.
- Products with the price above $300,000 aren't permitted in this category.
- Sellers who wish to trade pieces in this category need to be subscribed to Amazon's Professional Seller Plan.
- Sellers who are applying to sell in this category must be existing Amazon.com merchants.
- Only sellers who have 12 months' experience in sales on this platform and annual revenue of $50,000 or more can apply for the Fine Jewelry category.
- Merchants must have an existing business with at least one brick-and-mortar shop and yearly revenue of $50,000 or more.
- Sellers need to meet required levels of Customer Metrics to be able to sell within this category:
-Order-Defect rate must be 1% or less
-Cancellation Rate must be 2.5% or less
-Late Shipment Rate must be 4% or less
As Fine Art and Collectible Coins, this is one of the toughest categories to get in. Only experts should apply. If you don't own a brick and mortar store and don't have your logistics all set up, don't bother applying to this category, you'll just waste your time and effort on various barriers.
Also, to be able to sell in this category, sellers must pay a $5,000 fee for quality testing, and they must provide the spreadsheet with at least ten items for quality testing. Amazon will test your products additionally, every 6 to 12 months
If you want to sell jewelry that isn't made of precious metals, you can list them in one of the fashion categories.
Sports Collectibles are sports items with signatures, limited editions, and features that increase their value for collectors.
- The Order Defect Rate must be less than 0.75%
- Sellers must be subscribed to Amazon's Professional Selling plan.
- The majority of products from the seller's inventory must be graded by one or more of the following:
-Beckett Collectors Club Grading (BCCG)
-Beckett Grading Services
-Becket Grading Services (BGS)
-Icon Sports Memorabilia
-James Spence Authentication (JSA)
-Major League Baseball (MLB Authenticated)
-NFL Players Inc.
-Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
-PSA/DNA Authentication Services
-Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
-Sportscard Guaranty (SGC)
-Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA)
Merchants state that UPCs aren't required for this category and that selling Sports Collectibles is easier on other online platforms or niche hobby websites.
Toys and Games (this category is only gated during the holiday season)
This category covers toys and games for children from 0 to 14 years, strategy board games, drones, collectibles, and other items of interest to adults.
- You need to have a certain number of shipped and processed orders before the holiday season starts, but these orders don't have to be within the same Toy and Games category. The holiday season typically begins on September 1st and lasts through October 31st.
- Pre-fulfillment cancel rates need to be 1.75% or less in the month the holiday season starts, usually October.
- Late shipment rates must be 4% or less in the month leading up to the holiday season, October.
- Order defect rates need to be 1% or less short term as of the first day of the holiday season, on November 1st.
If you plan on selling in this category, make sure you live up to all Amazon's requirements before the Holiday season starts.
Video, DVDs, and Blu-ray
All types of video media, especially DVDs and Blu-rays, falls under the Video umbrella.
- Sellers who wish to sell in this product category must be subscribed to Amazon's Professional Selling Plan or get subscribed 30 days after the application to this category has been approved.
- Order-Defect Rate or ODR must be 1% or less.
- Late Shipment Rate must be 4% or less.
- Cancellation Rate needs to be 2.5% or below.
- Also, Amazon requires additional information, such as:
-Estimated volume of units you're planning to sell.
-Your primary source of product inventory. If you have multiple sources, you must list them all.
-At least three invoices for purchase orders of your most significant inventory source that represent the type of products you're planning to trade.
Amazon is striving to reduce the counterfeit market as much as possible, so if you plan on selling used DVDs, don't bother. Due to this policy, Amazon accepts only new DVDs, and you will need to supply invoices of purchases as evidence.
The Watches category represents high-end jewelry pieces, including brands like Tag Heuer, Rolex, Hublot, and Patek Philippe.
- For the certified pre-owned watches, merchants need to have the capability to test timekeeping accuracy and water resistance.
- That certified pre-owned pieces must satisfy all criteria placed by a third-party watch certification organization.
- Dealers in this category must meet the required levels of Customer Metrics to be able to sell within this category:
-The Pre-Fulfill Cancel rate must be 2.5% or below.
-The Late Ship rate must be under 4%.
-The Order-Defect rate must be 1% or less.
- Sellers who wish to sell high-end watches must have a Professional Selling account on Amazon with a good reputation.
- All watches and watch products must have UPCs from manufacturers.
Restricted products on Amazon
Amazon is making sure its buyers have the best customer experience. To be able to provide that, Amazon has other security standards, especially for products that can be misused or mispresent.
What qualifies as a restricted product?
There is no single definition for all products, and restrictions differ from product to product. However, there are several general principles for restricted products.
If you are using the Fulfillment by Amazon selling model, make sure you check which items can't be sold with the FBA model .
Amazon's restricted products are divided into three general categories:
- Collectibles that require the special condition
- High-quality expert products
- Products that are controlled by the state or with the federal law
Restricted products on Amazon
The following list of items is currently restricted on this online selling platform:
- Animals & Animal-Related Products
- Art – Fine Art
- Art – Home Decor
- Automotive and Powersports
- Composite Wood Products
- Cosmetics & Skin/Hair Care
- Currency, Coins, Cash Equivalents, and Gift Cards
- Dietary Supplements
- Drugs & drug paraphernalia
- Explosives, Weapons, and Related Items
- Export Controls
- Food & Beverage
- Gambling & Lottery
- Hazardous and Dangerous Items
- Human Parts & Burial Artifacts
- Jewelry & Precious Gems
- Laser products
- Lock Picking & Theft Devices
- Medical devices and accessories
- Offensive and Controversial Materials
- Pesticides and Pesticide Devices
- Plant and Seed Products
- Postage Meters & Stamps
- Recalled Products
- Recycling electronics
- Subscriptions and Periodicals
- Surveillance Equipment
- Tobacco & Tobacco-Related Products
- Warranties, Service Plans, Contracts, and Guarantees
- Other Restricted Products
- Refrigerants: Ozone-Depleting Substances and Substitutes
Aldo the next three products aren't covered with Amazon's list of restricted products, they have restraints:
- Toner and ink cartridges
All other products are ungated unless they:
- Require a special approval from Amazon before you can start selling these products.
- Amazon is requesting additional information or guaranties before you can list that product.
- Products that feature the FDA logo in product listing images.
- Items for which sellers claim that are FDA cleared or FDA approved.
Other product restrictions:
- In case you are selling your goods worldwide, you need to understand and follow all laws and regulations for the country you are selling your items to.
- Some products have additional regulations for different states, for example, the state of California .
How to apply to get unrestricted on Amazon?
If you have found profitable products or niches, but they fall under the restricted categories or products, you can try and apply to get ungated. Aldo, many sellers, think different, this process isn't so complicated at all.
Certain requests even get approved automatically! These are called the "Automatic Approvals," and they often just happen randomly. Automatic Approvals have a connection with good customer metrics and with how long your account has traded successfully.
In general, for requesting an approval to get ungated, you need to:
- Go to your Amazon Seller Central, click on the inventory and choose to Add a Product.
- Conduct a search for the product that you wish to sell or any other product within the same category.
- When Amazon generates search results, click on the Listing Limitations Apply link across from the gated product.
- Then select the Request Approval option to start with the application process.
Depending on which category you are requesting the approval, Amazon may require additional requests and proofs, such as invoices and legal documents. Work through all of the steps and provide everything Amazon is requesting from you.
Sellers who receive the following message from Amazon are automatically approved for selling in the specific category:
"Your selling application is approved. Congratulations! Your selling application for [brand/category name] has been approved based on your performance history."
Even if you are rejected, you can try again later, or try getting ungated with supplier invoices.
You can check the status of your application anytime by going to Add a Product section, and by clicking on the To manage your selling applications, click here link, which is located below the search section.
Getting supplier invoices
In case you are trying to get approved through your source or supplier, you must buy products that are already listed in your Amazon inventory, under the category you are trying to get approval for. Look for specific items through Amazon's Seller Central by clicking on Add a Product to determine within what category they fall in.
At first, when you are searching for items to buy from suppliers, it's not so essential to make a significant profit. Probably you won't make any profit, or you even won't send them to Amazon for selling. The purchase is made because you must have a qualifying invoice to apply.
Submitting supplier invoices to Amazon
When you are applying to a specific category where products you wish to sell are, you need to provide the official invoice and send it along with the goods. Printed copies or e-mailed invoices aren't allowed.
You can take a photo of that official invoice and submit that image to Amazon.
In some cases, it's allowed to get a PDF invoice file from your sales representative, but before your order arrives.
What are the requirements for invoices?
Invoices are probably the most critical part of Amazon's approval process. Invoices help Amazon to determine where your goods are coming from and even more important, whether they are authentic goods. If you make a single wrong step with invoices, your chance to get approved to sell in gated categories will be terminated.
Try to estimate by yourself if the invoices will live up to Amazon's invoice verification process before submitting them.
To get approved, make sure:
- All invoices are legible, scanned well, so everything is entirely readable. Pay attention to the quality of your photo or scan. Make sure there are no blurs or smears.
- Invoices must have recent dates. Within specific categories, invoices need to be from the past 180 days, or Amazon won't affirm them.
- The invoice must clearly indicate that the products you are selling are sourced with that supplier. The name of your products must be visible.
- Invoice must contain the supplier's physical address, phone number, and your address and phone number.
- The address listed on the invoice must be the same address from your Seller Central.
- Handwritten invoices are unacceptable.
You can't request approval with retail receipts and purchase orders. Only invoices that contain all information listed above will be accepted.
If you are approved in a category can you sell anything there?
If you get approved for the top-level category, it doesn't mean that you can sell items in all sub-categories within that specific category:
- Gated sub-categories often have their own rules, and you need to file a separate request to get ungated.
- Many restricted brands have their own requirements for the approval process, and you need to file a different request. Make sure you check every brand before you get stuck with inventory that you can't sell.
- Before you invest in your inventory, check if your products are allowed or gated. Some items are potentially dangerous, and some are entirely banned from this platform.
- There are condition restrictions in some categories, meaning that you can't sell used or refurbished products.
Amazon's 'Prohibited Product Claims' policy
Amazon wants to ensure all customers on this platform are satisfied. They want to avoid any possible lawsuits from customers claiming they bought an item from an Amazon seller that failed to live up to its listing's information. Hence, Amazon's product claims policy rigorously aligns with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) regulations about "unfair or deceptive" promotion.
All sellers should take some time and read the FTC's guidelines about internet marketing. Product details, pictures, or any other information about the product can't be misleading or false.
The order of the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Advertising Practices is to protect "customers from unfair or false advertising and marketing methods that raise health and safety matters, as well as those that cause economic damage."
Amazon's claims policy forbids any allegedly cures, treatments, or prevention of human and animal diseases that aren't proven and verified with the FDA.
Also, all items with environmental claims mustn't deceive customers about the qualities or features.
What will happen if you violate Amazon's restrictions?
Rules are there to be followed. If you're considering whether or not to break any rules, keep on your mind that:
- Your product listings can be canceled.
- Amazon can set restrictions on your product listing privileges.
- Your listing privileges may be suspended for good.
- Amazon can eliminate your listing privileges altogether.
After the disciplinary activities, you will find it very difficult to get reinstated!
Restricted categories, restricted brands, or restricted products?
Many people get confused and mix up these terms. Let's make it more clear:
- Restricted categories represent a whole category of products, like Grocery & Gourmet Food. If you want to sell any product under the specific category, you will need Amazon's approval.
- Restricted brands represent a particular brand or all products from that manufacturer that 3rd party sellers aren't allowed to sell. For example, Adidas. You can't just buy products in bulk and sell them under this brand.
- Restricted products represent certain items that require approval before sellers can list them for sale.
Is getting approved really worth the struggle?
Amazon's restrictions can be quite confusing, and due to their frequent updates, they can be hard to interpret. Despite that, restricted categories, products, or brands are definitely worth the trouble. Pursue trying because after you overcome the obstacle of approving, a whole new door will open for you. The competition in these categories, brands, or products is often very low while products have a high demand. You will have a whole new set of opportunities to profit, while sellers who didn't want to bother with paperwork and approvals are still dealing with the over-saturated market.
But understand that in business, like in real life, some parts are way harder while others are easy and enjoyable. The same goes for Amazon's restricted categories. Once you've overcome the approval process, you will be far away from your old competitors, enjoying significant business growth and profit. Take some time, learn about the process and requirements, and you will rise high ultimately.
Can a brand new seller get approval?
There is no certainty in this. Some newbies got approved while many experienced sellers got rejected. But keep on your mind that it's always good that you have established business or extensive experience.
Can I sell the products I purchase for approval?
Yes, you can. Maybe you won't gain significant profit, but anything is better than nothing, right? That way, your purchased inventory won't just lay and collect dust.
Can I only sell products from the wholesaler I used in the invoices?
Once you've got approved, Amazon won't constantly be checking your invoices. You are allowed to purchase from any authorized supplier, including regular Retail Arbitrage stores like Walmart.
Will receipts work from places like Target?
No, retail receipts won't be accepted. You need to file invoices, not receipts.
Do I need a business license?
Some merchants were required to provide a business license, while others were never asked for this requirement.
Will I get approved for sure?
No one knows this, but Amazon. You can use all of the information from this article to make as a better application as you can and prepare all of the required documentation. After that, you can only hope for the best.
Can I just pay someone to get me approved?
You should definitely never do this. For Amazon's requested invoices, you should provide a real invoice for the products you purchased. If the supplier you are paying is not placing actual orders for you, your documents are being forged. If you file forged paperwork to Amazon, you risk getting permanently suspended.