My normal answer to people when I’m asked what you can sell on eBay is: “just about anything.” Well, there are some things that you can’t sell. It’s always good to have a little refresher on these items, so that you keep them in mind when sourcing. Some of them are fairly common sense, but others are a bit odd and unknown…until you get nailed with a policy violation.
I don’t want you to have to learn the hard way, so here’s a list of 10 restricted items, as well as some of the do’s and don’ts for listings within those categories:
- Animals and Wildlife Products
- Native American Artifacts
- Used Clothing
- Used Cosmetics
- Certain Electronics Equipment
- Firearms, Weapons and Knives
- Food Items
- Plants and Seeds
The Alcohol category is very restricted. You are unable to sell alcohol on eBay. There are a few exceptions, as in folks who are pre-approved to sell wines via the site. These are people who have a specific contract with the site. You ARE able to sell beer or alcohol making kits, foods with alcoholic ingredients, hops and other alcohol making ingredients. You can sell empty alcohol bottles as long as your photos show that the bottle is empty (I recommend a picture holding it upside down with the cap off) and you can sell non-alcoholic wines, as long as you sell them in the correct category.
Animals and Wildlife Products
Animals and wildlife products are part of another restricted category. You cannot sell live animals, with the exception of bait. You can sell animals that are food, such as shellfish and escargot, but only within the US. In order to sell escargot, or snails, you need to be sure to get the proper permits. Be careful also with taxidermy products. If there is any question about the animal being on the endangered species list, steer clear! There are some big penalties. Also with migratory birds, this includes ducks, geese, and even hummingbirds!
Art is a tricky category. I love selling art via eBay, but you have to be very careful what kinds you sell and how you list them. Of course, you are always able to sell your own artwork and any artwork you are authorized to sell. You need to be careful when selling an artist’s work or a reproduction that there are no trademarks on their work. If your item is a reproduction, you need to be sure to list it as such. You can only put an artist’s name in the title of the item if it is a work of said artist or an exact replication. You cannot put their name in the title if it is simply a similar work of art. Obviously, you cannot list known forgeries or items that are not authentic. You can read a more thorough description of the policy on the Art policy page.
Native American Artifacts
With Native American artifacts, or artifacts of any kind, the item must match the time period that it is listed in. If it is pre 1934 it can be listed in Collectibles > Cultures & Ethnicities > Native American: US > and in one of the following subcategories:
If later than 1935 you must have a tribe affiliation and artisan’s name to list in the Native American categories. For artifacts, fossils and relics again they must be of the age being represented. If the items have been modernized or changed at all, they cannot be listed. If they are reproductions, the listing must state that fact. Non-Native American items in the style of Native American art or crafts have to be listed in the Collectibles > Cultures & Ethnicities > Native American: US > Non-Native American Crafts category only.
Used clothing is a fairly open category. The only stipulations placed on this category are that you cannot sell underwear of any kind or athletic cups, bathing suits cannot have been worn as underwear and you must state that the items are used. You cannot list t-shirts or items with decals or decorations that are inappropriate, either. Use your own discretion for deciding what may or may not be inappropriate. If you are interested in selling used clothing and would like to find out more, check out the used clothing policy page.
The category of used cosmetics is another tricky one. You can list cosmetics that have been opened as long as you state that it has been open and is unused in the description and title. You are allowed to list used cosmetic brushes, as long as they have been well cleaned. You can also sell used body washes, lotions or perfumes as long as they don’t have an applicator that comes into contact with the body. Obviously, you cannot list used cosmetics. But opened and unused items are ok, homemade products are ok and clean used brushes are ok.
The electronic devices category is pretty much an open one, with the exception of items that would be illegal in most states anyway, so a pretty common sense category. Don’t try to sell jamming devices, traffic light changing devices and you cannot sell information about how to access free cable or programming. Most other appliances are able to be sold, just be careful when listing low power transmitting devices, cordless television, radar detectors and appliances.
Most weapons cannot be listed on eBay because of strict state and federal laws about the sale of weapons. There are certain items like airsoft guns and their ammo, replica guns, parts and accessories for guns, training and practice hand weapons or instruction manuals for them, tactical daggers, throwing knives, blow guns, and slingshots that can be sold within certain guidelines. You can also sell BB guns, pellet guns air rifles and pistols if you are pre-approved to sell them. To find out more information about selling these items or getting pre-approved, check out the weapons selling overview
Food is tricky to list as well. You can list perishable items only if you have the means to get them to the customer without them getting spoiled. Any food products listed must be sealed in a container All food items must have been stored according to their guidelines before being shipped. You can sell baby formula as long as it is not expired and you include the expiration date within the listing. For that matter, steer clear from all expired food products. They are a no-no.
Plants and Seeds
Finally, you can list plants and seeds as long as they’re allowed in the location you want to sell them in. You can list plants and seeds as long as they aren’t on the restricted list. You cannot sell noxious weeds in any way, shape or form. Many state laws limit the time period after packaging or germination testing when the seeds can be sold, so definitely check out the page about selling plants and seeds on eBay
I hope this brief overview has been a nice little refresher about items you can and cannot sell on eBay. I know at first it may seem like a ton of information, but if you take each item and deal with it on a case by case basis when you come across the inventory, I’m confident that you will handle listing these items with great ease. Just remember to take it slow and always review the policies if it’s something you’re unsure about. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. So before sourcing inventory, it may help to read this article or check out the policies so that they will be fresh in your mind. Good luck and have fun listing!
Danni Ackerman is the founder of The Danni App where she’s all about fun and profits. She is also the author of The Ultimate Guide to Savings by Store, Storage Lockers for Fun and Profit and her latest book Buying at Auction Houses for Fun and Profit. She is the organizer of the Las Vegas Online Sellers Meetup Group. Known as Udderly Good Stuff online, she’s been on eBay since 1998 and has grown up in the world of antiques and collectibles and reselling “stuff.” She hosts her own weekly show called Ask the Danni App, regularly appears on eBay Radio and is a speaker at eBay and eCommerce events and more. She is the mother of 4 including two youngsters she calls her shipping supervisors, and makes a lifestyle out of juggling business and family. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @theDanniApp.