As an online marketplace for 96.3 million active buyers and 7.5 million active sellers in 2021, Etsy is extensive in its offerings.
This means buyers can get several things ranging from vintage items, craft supplies, and handmade jewelry, and sellers are open to selling various items. However, having the platform available for selling many things means that Etsy needs to ensure a safe environment for both parties.
This includes having several house rules outlining what can and can't be sold, how each party is expected to behave, and several regulations.
In this article, we'll look at the ten things you can't sell, what you can sell, and the repercussions for sellers who get caught selling prohibited items.
What You Can Sell
Before we can look at what sellers aren't allowed to sell on the platform, here is a list of the items that can be sold on Etsy.
- Handmade items
- Vintage items
- Craft Supplies
- Supplies related to spell work include herbs, tinctures, crystals, and candles. ( They shouldn't be listed with metaphysical claims)
Prohibited items: What Can't be Sold on Etsy
As of the time of writing, Etsy has eight sections detailing what cant be sold on the site. This list might change, and as such, sellers should keep an eye out for any changes.
1. Alcohol, Drugs, Medical drugs, Tobacco, and Drug Paraphernalia
Etsy has a strict stance regarding selling alcohol, drugs, drug paraphernalia, medical drugs, and tobacco.
These items aren't allowed on Etsy due in part to being controlled substances and their legal restriction plus, they aren't in the spirit of Etsy.
Etsy also doesn't allow the sale of substances that claim to have an intoxicating/healing effect. Some of the prohibited items include,
- E-cigarettes, e liquid
- Drugs and certain herbal substances (whether for recreational or medicinal purposes). Additionally, materials or instructions that are intended to aid the creation of such items
- Drug paraphernalia – bongs and bubblers, vaporizers, and their components, items with carburetors, slides, and items with slides.
**There are some exceptions to this rule. Products like beer brewing kits, baked goods containing alcohol, hookahs, tobacco pipes, and empty alcohol bottles or items made from them may be sold on Etsy.
2. Animal Products and Human Remains
Etsy does not allow the sale of any animal products or human remains. This rule encompasses the following,
- Live animals may not be sold on Etsy
- Any items created using endangered or threatened animal species
- Items made from dog or cat parts or pelts
- Ivory or bones from ivory-producing animals
- Items that are made from human remains or products from the human body (exceptions are fingernails, teeth, and hair )
3. Dangerous Items: These include Hazardous Materials, Recalled Items, and Weapons
Certain items, such as hazardous materials, recalled items, or items that may pose a serious health risk, and weapons are not allowed to be sold on the site.
Hazardous materials include explosives, flammable items, gases, radioactive materials, toxic substances, and individual /loose lithium-ion batteries.
Additionally, any items that governments/manufacturers have recalled are prohibited from being sold.
Weapons constitute items that are intended to be used as weapons to inflict harm. They include guns, knives, blatant weapons, imitation firearms, patterns, designs, and instructions that can be used to create said prohibited weapons.
4. Hate items: Items that Promote, Support, and Glorify Hatred
Under this section, items that glorify, support, or promote hate will not be allowed as listings on Etsy. These include any items that support or commemorate current or otherwise historical hate groups, including propaganda or collectibles.
Any items that contain racial slurs or derogatory terms about a protected group.
5. Highly Regulated items, Illegal items, and Items Promoting Illegal Activity
This also includes items that are subject to complex legal regulations and registration systems.
Some of the items that are subject to regulation include
- Native American crafts,
- Plants and seeds
- Children's products
- Indian restrictions,
- Food products
In addition to highly regulated items, sellers aren't allowed to sell unauthorized or counterfeit goods, personal information, or listings that promote or are likely to promote illegal activity.
6. Internationally Regulated Items
For buyers who are selling internationally, you must comply with the laws of the state/country you're in. This means you might be prohibited from exporting and importing certain items under international laws.
Additionally, sellers are expected to comply with economic sanctions and trade restrictions, including those implemented by the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control )of the US Department of the Treasury.
If a seller is selling items that originate from a specific area that's sanctioned, the sale of such items may be prohibited. However, items that refer to such an area are generally permitted.
7. Nudity and Mature Content
While the platform does allow the sale of mature content to some degree, Etsy explicitly does not allow the sale of pornography, illegal or exploitative items, and used intimate items.
If you're not sure if the items you're selling are considered mature content:
Etsy defines mature content as visual or printed depictions of human genitalia, organs, sexual activity, profane language, sexual wellness items, explicit representations of taxidermy, and violent images.
Regarding mature content, Etsy's policy is a little more nuanced. The platform does allow the sale of items that feature nudity, but only if it is artistic or educational.
Sellers who are selling mature content should tag and list their items properly. An example of what is allowed is an artistic photograph of a nude man.
8. Violent Items: Items that Promote, Support, or Glorify Violence
Etsy prohibits the sale of items that promote, support, or glorify violence. This includes items that depict or reference violent acts and those that may be used to cause harm.
- Items that glorify human sufferings or items that honor serial killers or commemorate them
- Items that attempt to exploit human tragedies or natural disasters
- Items that promote harmful misinformation
- Items that encourage self-harm or self-mutilation
- Items that encourage, glorify, or celebrate acts of violence against individuals or groups
9. Services or Rentals
Etsy does not allow the sale of services. This includes rentals on the site. Only services that produce a new tangible item and align with the sellers' policies may be sold on the site.
10. Metaphysical Services or Items
The last prohibited item on this list is metaphysical items such as reiki and spell castings. However, an exception to this rule is tarot or psychic readings if they include a physical or digital copy of said readings (email recording or tarot spread photo).
Bonus point: Etsy also doesn't allow the sale of trademarked products or items that infringe on other persons' intellectual property.
What are the Main Reasons for Etsy to Ban the Sale of Certain Items?
If you're wondering why Etsy has all these rules and regulations put in place, prohibiting certain items and allowing certain products.
Here are a couple of points to note:
- Certain items may promote hatred, violence, and unlawful activity-specific products, such as firearms and weapons, pose a deadly risk to the community. Having them listed on Etsy would open it to several potential issues.
- Some products may promote vulgarity and obscurity
- Some products can be harmful to Etsy members and go against their values
What Happens if a Seller Sells Prohibited Items?
If a merchant is found to be selling prohibited items, the platform may take several actions to address the issue. These actions may range from:
- Removal of listings -if a seller is found selling prohibited items, Etsy may remove the listings. This may be individual listings or the entire shop if the shop has had multiple violations.
- Termination of account – when a seller is found to be selling prohibited items, they may face an immediate account ban.
How to Avoid Getting Banned on Etsy for Selling Prohibited Items
- Read up on Etsy policies – before you launch your store, you should research, taking the time to read and understand Etsy policies on everything, including what is prohibited and what is not. This can help you avoid selling prohibited items and getting your store shut down.
- Conduct research – as we mentioned above, certain items are highly regulated. It's crucial that your shop follows the laws of the land youre selling in and the countries youre shipping to.
- Be honest and transparent – this goes without saying you should always inform your customers about the materials, ingredients, and sources. This will help build trust with your customers and avoid potential legal issues.
- Communicate clearly with customers: Communicate with your customers about your products and any limitations or restrictions. For example, if you cannot ship specific items to certain countries, ensure your customers know this before they make a purchase.
- Keep up to date with Etsy's policies – Etsy's policies and list of prohibited items may change over time, so make sure you stay updated with any changes. This can help you avoid selling anything that's been recently banned and remain in compliance with Etsy's rules.
Etsy prohibits the sale of several items on its site. While this might seem prohibitive for some sellers, it still leaves a massive space for various sellers to showcase their creativity and generate some income on the side. It's crucial, however, that sellers know what they can and cannot sell to avoid getting their shops permanently banned or getting in trouble with the law.