What can't you sell on eBay? A comprehensive guide to eBay restricted items

eBay is known as a marketplace that you can sell anything on but there are still some rules as to what is and isn’t allowed on the site. Below is a quick guide to the sort of items that Amazon has restricted. The reasons for prohibiting such items range from safety reasons to the illegal nature of such products. 

The general rules for what is prohibited on eBay are: 

  • Illegal and potentially illegal products
  • Anything promoting illegal use
  • Stolen property
  • Offensive material e.g. items that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance, or promote organisations with such views
  • Images of nudity (except in fine art)
  • Items that infringe upon an individual’s privacy or intellectual property
  • Products from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria & the Crimea region of Ukraine
  • Products from Parties on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) list such as terrorist organisations & narcotics traffickers.
All products sold on eBay must comply with all applicable laws, Sellers are legally liable for their actions and transactions.

There are approximately 25 million sellers on eBay

This is a copyright issue, eBay is highly aware of copyright infringement and has measures in place to prevent it.

  • Academic copies of software can be listed by Educational resellers and educational institutions as long as they’re authorised to do so. Others may be eligible to list their own personal copy of a copyrighted software, but they should check with their school or provider first and check if they have a VeRO Programme Participant page. Sellers authorised to sell academic software should state so in their listing and product.
  • Beta software can’t be listed on eBay. These are early copies of software distributed by software developers strictly for the purpose of evaluation and troubleshooting.
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer software must be sold with the original hardware. The hardware must also be specific and clearly stated in the listing and product description.

Buyers of sexually oriented adult material on eBay must be 18 years or older. eBay wants to create an atmosphere that mirrors real life, where adults can purchase legal items, but people who are offended by these kinds of materials don’t have to see them.

  • Adult Only product images and descriptions cannot include profanity, sexually explicit or overtly sexual content
  • Only pre-approved sellers can list in the “Sex toys” and “Fantasy, Fetish & Accessories” categories
  • Items must be new  and in their original packaging
  • Sellers needs to follow any applicable laws or postal restrictions for adult material and adhere to the laws of the countries product is posting to.
Sellers cannot list:
  • Photographs of wives/girlfriends/husbands/boyfriends (even if there’s no nudity in the image)
  • Hidden camera videos and amateur videos containing adult sexual activity
  • Footwear listings and products that include images that go above the knee or show the foot outside of the footwear. The listing and product must not mention the word ‘fetish’
  • Services that include any sexual/adult activity
  • Items depicting or describing child pornography, bestiality, necrophilia, rape, scat or incest.
Sellers can list:
  • See-through clothing but the listing or product image must not show any nudity
  • Playboy, Playgirl, Mayfair and Penthouse magazines if they don’t contain any images of nudity or sexually explicit content.
  • Bondage items if they are not modelled on a real person or mannequin and don’t contain inappropriate descriptions or images
  • Romance novels, books on sex, relationships, sexual education and self-help as long as the descriptions do not contain explicit content or nudity
  • Unrated films that originally had a BBFC rating, or unrated versions if a BBFC rated film (like director’s cuts) if the content of the film isn’t sexually explicit or isn’t certificate R18 or above
  • Underwear listings and products that include images as long as it is indicated that the pair being modelled is not the pair being sold. Underwear listings must also make clear that the underwear is new.
  • Sellers must have an alcohol license
  • Permitted sellers of alcohol must have an effective age verification process in place for preventing underage sales to prospective customers who are underage.
  • Permitted sellers cannot sell liquor licenses.

Listings must contain:

  • A link to eBay’s alcohol policy page
  • A lawful postage policy that specifies the country to which you can post alcohol products (if any), and any restrictions on such shipments (for example, whether alcohol products can be posted directly to consumers)
  • The buyer’s age requirement: e.g. buyers must be at least 18 years old to purchase alcohol in UK
  • Language which lets buyers know that you have been permitted by eBay to list alcohol products, for example “Permitted seller of alcohol products on eBay”.
Sellers cannot list:
 
  • Pets and other live animals
  • Ivory
  • Any eggs from wild birds regardless of age or condition
  • Items that are or appear to be made from genuine sea turtle shell
  • The sale of endangered plants
  • Any part, pelt or skin from endangered or threatened species or any species listed on CITES Appendix I
  • Internal animal organs (e.g., bear gall bladders)
  • Pelt, fur, or any item made from cats or dogs
  • Any animal bodily fluids or faeces.

Most animal traps are fine to sell except snares and gin traps.

eBay prohibits:

  • Public records and related documents
  • Speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites taken from caves designated as SSSI
  • Historical graves, tombstones and related markers

Sellers on eBay may have a legal obligation to report archaeological finds.

eBay asks sellers to include as much information as you can about the autograph and the item it’s been written on to help the buyer understand exactly what they’re buying. 

Items should also contain:

  • A clear photo of the autographed item
  • A clear photo of the Certificate Of Approval, as well as the name of the person or company issuing the certificate
  • Your refund policy.
 Selling fake autographs as real is illegal

Unauthorised recordings of live performances, or bootleg recordings, are not allowed on eBay.

Listings or products for catalogues that buyers can order from away from eBay are prohibited.

Items that rely on chance or luck are banned. Such items include:

  • Listings or products that sell an opportunity to win an item or prize
  • Mystery items where contents aren’t identified
  • An opportunity to win an item by skill
  • Giveaways, lotteries, sweepstakes, random draws, raffles, or contests.

eBay doesn’t allow drugs or products that claim to provide a “legal high”, drug paraphernalia, or items designed or primarily intended for making, concealing, or using a controlled substance.

Examples of prohibited products include:

  • Narcotics, steroids, or any other controlled substances
  • Prescription drugs and products containing tobacco
  • Pipes or any item marketed as for use with marijuana or illegal drugs
  • Vaporisers intended to be used with alcohol, marijuana or illegal substances.
Sellers cannot list:
 
  • Radar or laser jamming devices, traffic light control devices or signal changers, Satellite, Digital and Cable TV decoders & Mobile phone, GPS, Wi-Fi and other jammers
  • Telephone bugging devices and wiretapping devices, miniature transmitters, surveillance microphones & listings that promote the use of photographic devices to surreptitiously view or record individuals for sexual purposes
  • Devices that fail to meet the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 in the UK.
Sellers can sell:
 
  • Items like toy spy cameras for kids
  • Answering machines
eBay has their own ticket sale service called Stubhub where most resale of tickets can be listed such as concert, festival, sports, theatre and comedy tickets. 
  • Tickets to major events where tickets are free to the public are completely banned on eBay and Stubhub

Most food is valid as long as it is in date and can be sent before it expires. 

Food that is not saleable are:

  • Listings containing drug or medicinal claims
  • Listings that claim the item is intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in humans and/or animals
  • Wild mushrooms (except morel or shiitake)
  • Food items that are subject to recall by the FSA (UK) or FSAI (Ireland)
  • Listings that use unlawfully registered names of protected agricultural products and foodstuffs.

Sellers cannot sell prohibited substances such as:

  • Fireworks and combustibles
  • Working fire extinguishers that contain carbon tetrachloride
  • Radioactive materials.
  • Private sellers are not allowed to sell pesticides at all whereas business sellers are only allowed to sell specific verified pesticides.

The sale of human bodies, body parts, or products made from the human body are banned on eBay. 

  • Lockets & wigs which may contain real human hair is allowed.

Certification of jewellery items must be performed by reputable companies or listing will be removed

  • eBay prohibits the sale of diamonds, other gemstones and metals that are sourced from countries with civil conflict or that do not comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

Most forms of sales related to a specifically selling a personal service are prohibited. Examples of valid services are:

  • Home improvement services
  • Photography services
  • A gift certificate for a spa massage, but there can’t be any hints of sexual contact in the listing.

You cannot offer:

  • Personal relationships
  • Friendship on online social networking sites
  • Sexual contact including dating and escort services or services requiring physical contact
  • Personal advice and coaching
  • Medical services
  • Recruitment services for any type of employment.

To help prevent the impersonation of law enforcement officers, certain police-related items cannot be listed on eBay. 

  • Fake or novelty police related items are allowed.

A number of police constabularies do sell on eBay but their listings consist of confiscated or recovered proceeds from crimes.

Sellers are banned from listing:

  • Counterfeit currency, stamps, and the equipment designed to make them
  • Replica coins and replica, plated or clad bullion
  • Currently active bank credit or debit cards or bank or store cards that have been expired less than 10 years
  • Currently active store credit cards
  • Novelty banknotes.

Aside from underwear, socks, and some athletic garments, you can list any clean, stain-free used clothing.

Most weapons can’t be sold on eBay due to national and international laws.

You cannot sell:

  • Live ammunition and ammunition components
  • Airsoft guns, BB guns, pellet guns, or air rifles because they generally shoot a projectile.
  • Weapons issued and formerly used by the military
  • Items specifically intended for a military application
  • Military vehicles including aircraft and ships
  • Explosives
  • Missiles and rockets or launchers
  • Actual firearms
  • Any offensive weapon as defined by Section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (UK) or the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990 (Ireland)
  •  Knives to anyone under 18 years of age
  • A number of knives including but not limited to zombie knives, cake knives, disguised knives, push daggers & switch blades
  • Stun guns and replica tasers
  • Weapons which discharge noxious liquids or gases such as tear gas or pepper spray dispenser
  • Flares, flare guns
  • Blow guns and blowpipes

You can sell:

  • Bulletproof vests/ flak jackets
  • Magazine holders, moon clips, speed loaders or stripper clips
  • Instruction or training manuals on how to use hand weapons
  • Razor blades and surgical blades
  • Bows and arrows
  • Replica firearms that look like real weapons
  • Paintball guns

One of the most curious listings on eBay was a haunted rubber duck that sold for $107.50

Listings that violate one of eBay’s policies, can be reported by selecting Report item in the listing.

If eBay determines that a listing or product has violated a policy, they will email the seller and the bidders or the buyer to let them know that they have removed the listing or product from their site.

For a full list of eBay’s restricted & prohibited products, click here


NEED HELP?

Unsure if eBay is the right marketplace for your products? Have you got a product that eBay prohibits? Molzi can help you find the perfect online market to sell your products on. Send us a message and we’ll get in touch to help! 

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