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Amazon’s restricted categories (also known as gated) are the subject of both intrigue and criticism. Some Private Label coaches advise sellers and upstarts to steer clear of these categories (and products) because it can be so hard to get selling approval. 

But then there are others that consider gated categories as potential goldmines. So, which side has it right? In our opinion, while the approval process for certain gated categories can be difficult, there are benefits to selling restricted categories too.

Restricted categories aren’t open to every seller--only those that meet a set criteria and clear the approval process are allowed to create product listings and sell products. 

Gated categories are known to have relatively less competition, higher demand for products, and ample growth opportunities. If you are one of the many sellers wondering how to get ungated on Amazon in 2021, then you’ve come to the right place!

So grab a coffee, get comfortable, and let’s begin. 

Here’s what we have in store:

Table of Contents

  1. Why Does Amazon Gate Categories?
  2. Understanding Category and Product Restrictions 
  3. How to Get Ungated and Sell a Restricted Product
  4. Amazon Ungating for Restricted Categories
  5. Frequently Asked Questions 
  6. Conclusion

Why Does Amazon Gate Categories?

Amazon is well-known for being one of the world’s most “consumer-centric” companies. With around 6.2 million sellers, the eCom giant enacts policies that ensure its customers can enjoy a safe shopping experience.

These policies prohibit both counterfeit goods and dangerous products. At times, the regulatory laws overseeing such products are part of Amazon’s seller policies and in other instances, are reflective of restrictions imposed by governing bodies on both a state and national level. 

By keeping a tight grip on what third-party sellers are allowed to sell in every marketplace, Amazon has managed to win the trust of customers worldwide.

Understanding Category and Product Restrictions 

The first step to getting ungated on Amazon is understanding the types of restrictions. First, there is an overarching restriction on a whole product category i.e. a category restriction. Then there are certain categories with gated niches, sub-niches, or products (otherwise known as restricted products)


Image Caption: Example of a gated product category on Amazon

It’s important to note: across the 17 global Amazon marketplaces, not all restrictions are equal. As mentioned earlier, bans on products vary according to local, state, and federal laws. So products or categories banned on Amazon U.S might not be banned in, Amazon Australia, for example. This point is especially important for those planning on selling in a foreign or international marketplace.  

There is also the case of FBA product restrictions e.g. temperature-sensitive items that require special care. For more details, check out the Meltable FBA inventory, Expiration-dated FBA inventory, and FBA prohibited products page.

List of Restricted Products for Amazon.com include:

  • Alcohol
  • Animals and Animal-Related Products
  • Art – Fine Art
  • Art – Home Décor
  • Automotive & Powersports
  • Composite Wood Products
  • Cosmetics and Skin/Hair Care
  • CPAP Cleaning & Disinfecting Devices
  • Currency, Coins, Cash Equivalents & Gift Cards
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Drugs and drug paraphernalia
  • Electronics
  • Explosives, Weapons, & Related Items
  • Export Controls
  • Food and Beverages
  • Gambling and Lottery

We suggest you visit Amazon’s official restricted products page as it gets updated from time to time. A product that is permitted today may not be permitted tomorrow. The following is a list of restricted products for other Amazon marketplaces:

  • Amazon Canada: items include animal and animal products, clothing and COVID-19 supplies.
  • Amazon UK: items include alcohol, clothing and cosmetics.
  • Amazon Japan: items include alcohol, drugs and adult products
  • Amazon India: items include fine art, jewelry and precious gems and large furniture.

Note: Amazon India has, by far, the least amount of restricted categories, with a total of just 10 (right now). 

It is also worth noting that product restrictions across the EU are more or less the same. However, you should still double-check to determine the status of a product in the marketplace you plan on selling in.

Extra Considerations for Restricted Products

According to Amazon, sellers are responsible for knowing which products are prohibited and which are not. They also state that due to frequent changes in both law and policy, the restricted products list is not absolute or all-inclusive.

Sometimes products that are legal to sell according to seller policies and state laws may have their listings taken down after some time. This could either be due to incomplete or inaccurate documentation or Amazon simply not being able to determine the nature of the product. In both cases, sellers are encouraged to get in touch with customer support to try and get your listings reinstated. 

Sellers who fail to play by Amazon’s rules may face consequences ranging from a suspension of selling privileges to legal action. Here are a few practices you can follow to ensure you are compliant:

  • Regularly review the list of prohibited products.
  • Sellers offering “FDA Approved” products might need to fulfill additional requirements.
  • The state of California enforces additional regulations.
  • Extra research needs to be carried out by sellers listing drugs and/or supplements on Amazon

Still interested in selling a restricted product? Let’s look at how you can obtain approval below.

How to Get Ungated and Sell a Restricted Product 

Before we get into the details of how to get ungated for restricted categories, let’s go over how to get approved to sell restricted products. 

  1. Go to Inventory TabAdd a Product.
  2. Select a product by browsing through different product categories or by adding an ASIN.
  3. Once the product details are visible, click Show Limitations on the left side. 
  4. Click Apply to sell.
  5. Follow the instructions and submit the required documents. Applications can be different based on the product category. Just make sure that the information you provide is accurate.

It’s important to clarify here the difference between “brand ungating” and “category ungating” which sellers often assume to refer to the same thing. The reality, however, is they are both quite different.

When attempting to resell products on Amazon, you’ll find that some items require approval from the brand before they can be listed. Amazon will ask you for written permission, and once you provide it, it would then allow you to sell the product on your account. We call this brand ungating.

Some companies provide brand ungating services to sellers in exchange for a fee. Please keep in mind such practices are strictly against Amazon’s TOS. You’re actually better off without them. 

The bottom line: selling in restricted categories is not the only way to sell on Amazon. If all of this seems either too difficult, risky, or confusing to you, opt for open product categories where there’s equal opportunity to grow, excel, and make plenty of profits.

Amazon Ungating for Restricted Categories

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for ungating a restricted product category. Instead, Amazon has shared general information about the criteria sellers need to fulfill to obtain approval. 

Note that approval may come with extra selling fees depending on the category, rigorous seller performance checks, and/or required documentation from recognized organizations.

While there are a plethora of blogs online by Amazon sellers with all sorts of ungating anecdotes, there are certain things many sellers agree on when it comes to ungating.

  • Auto-Ungating: We mentioned that not all category ungatings are alike which also encompasses the difficulty of the process as a whole. At times a new seller might apply to ungating and be granted instant access whereas another seller with the same credentials (or, let’s say, the same number of items sold) might have their application rejected.

    Why does this happen? We are not sure. But it doesn’t hurt to try; having your ungating application rejected will not negatively affect your seller account in any way.

  • Ungating gets easier with time: Well, not exactly with time but it does get easier as a seller account matures and continues to perform well while maintaining good health (a consequence of remaining within seller ToS). That’s because—as we mentioned previously—one reason for gating categories is to prevent the sale of counterfeit products and to stem the growth of untested or otherwise unreliable sellers.

    Good performance builds trust with Amazon and so they eventually let seasoned sellers into gated categories much more easily than newcomers.

The following is a list of some gated product categories for Amazon.com:

  • Postage Stamps
  • Collectible Coins
  • Personal Safety & Household products
  • Fine Art
  • Holiday Selling Requirements in Toys and Games
  • Jewelry
  • Join Amazon Subscription Boxes
  • Made in Italy
  • Music and DVD
  • Requirements for selling Automotive and Powersport products
  • Services
  • Sports Collectibles

Just like prohibited products, Amazon gated categories also differ for different Amazon marketplaces. Let’s go over the ungating process for some of these gated categories.

Jewelry

Getting approved to sell jewelry can be difficult owing to the nature of products sold within this category. Jewelry on Amazon is further divided into two main categories: Fashion Jewelry and Fine Jewelry. 

The criteria for Fine Jewelry is really strict and only established sellers or experts with an already existing physical presence and logistic network should apply. Check out this helpful article to better understand how to differentiate between Fashion and Fine Jewelry. 

The following are major points of consideration when attempting to ungate the Jewelry category:

  • All products must be authentic and priced at less than $300,000. Amazon has a zero-tolerance policy for knock-offs, counterfeits, or replicas. 
  • All products must meet Jewelry Quality Assurance Standards
  • Approvals for Fine Jewelry and Fashion Jewelry are separate – sellers cannot sell in Fine Jewelry without a clear go-ahead from Amazon
  • The information mentioned in the product listing including the images, specifications, and descriptions must accurately describe the product.
  • There is no room for trademark violations – apply for Amazon Brand Registry as soon as possible!
  • Sellers can only list new products. The sale of used, antique, or pre-owned vintage jewelry is forbidden
  • Sellers must be subscribed to a Professional plan and meet the following performance criteria
  • Order-Defect Rate (ODR) of 1% or below
  • Late Shipment Rate of 4% or below
  • Cancellation Rate of 2.5% or below
  • No items above $125,000 are allowed to be sold in the Fine Jewelry category
  • Sellers should employ inspection and quality control procedures
  • Applications for Fine Jewelry can take anywhere from 6-10 weeks to process and sellers will also have to submit products for testing

Unless you’ve been a part of the Jewelry industry for some time, we recommend choosing Fashion Jewelry—and that too if you fully understand the pros and cons of selling on Amazon vs. any other platform. 

Watches

Requirements for the watches category on Amazon reflect buyers concern for branding and safety.

According to Amazon, the requirements for selling watches reflect buyers’ concern for safety, branding, and most importantly, product quality. Similar to Jewelry—albeit to a lesser degree—Amazon wants to ensure that products sold within this category are authentic and of high quality. 

Before applying for sell watches, make sure to understand the following guidelines related to product listings, quality, and general requirements:

  • Sellers must possess a Professional selling account in good health. This is defined by:
  • An Order-Defect Rate of 1% or below
  • A Pre-Fulfillment Cancel Rate of 2.5% or below
  • A Late Shipment Rate of 4% or below
  • The use of UPCs is mandatory for listing watches and related products.
  • The sale of used products within the Watches category is prohibited. Products sold must be in new condition.
  • Sellers should ideally offer product variations
  • All products must be authentic and not counterfeits, replicas, or knock-offs
  • Sellers should clearly mention whether a watch comes with the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • For the US market, all watch products must meet product safety standards.

If you’re confident in your ability to meet such requirements, go ahead and begin the ungating process by applying to sell.

Made in Italy

 Amazon has a made in Italy category dedicated to products made in Italy.

As the category name suggests, Made in Italy is a storefront dedicated to all products made in Italy in line with current regulations. Irrespective of whether the seller represents a small or large business, the goal of this category is to promote Italian-made products, particularly ones made out of high-quality materials and reflect great attention to detail.

On the main page, there’s a wide assortment of goods generally imported from Italy including:

  • Home and Furniture: household items, furniture, home décor, and textiles
  • Beauty and Wellness: personal care products
  • Apparel and Accessories: handbags, clothing, shoes, watches, and expensive jewelry.

This product category is featured on Amazon USA, UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Japan.

Naturally, the Made in Italy category isn’t the subject of many ungating applications as a very small percentage of sellers are able to meet the main requirement i.e. made entirely in Italy. Or, at the very least, undergone a final “substantial and economically justified transformation or processing in Italy”. 

It may be a long shot but the fact that Amazon created a separate category for Italian products shows there is definite demand. 

Aside from the main requirement, here’s how to get your products listed on Made in Italy storefronts:

  • Have an active detail page for the product within that marketplace and in the local language
  • Have a registered and approved product ASIN

Amazon can take up to two weeks to review, approve, and finally display your product in the Made in Italy category. Even then there’s no guarantee of it appearing on the storefront; however, if it’s approved it will definitely feature a “Made in Italy” badge on the product listing, at the very least. 

Reasons for rejection include choosing the wrong product category or failing to meet Amazon’s guidelines and quality standards. 

Sports Collectibles


Amazon’s sports collectibles category includes limited edition releases like sneakers.

Products within this category include items like athlete-signed gear, limited-edition releases like sneakers, and other memorabilia that come under the heading of sports collectibles. The following is a list of some general requirements needed to sell in this product category:

  • As always, applied products must be authentic, exclusive, one-of-a-kind, and rare collectibles. In a category like this, Amazon is quick to mete out punishment to sellers attempting to dupe buyers into purchasing replica, counterfeit, or knock-off products.
  • Product images must appear as attachments or be sourced from an image hosting or independent website.
  • Product listing content should be appropriate for a global audience and people of all ages. The images should not contain pornographic, or obscene items. It should also assist buyers in understanding product details making accuracy paramount.
  • Images should be clear, have a white background, and be at least 1,000 pixels on the longest side

Aside from the above-mentioned requirements, all products should be authenticated (except for certain trading card items) by a third-party authenticator or grading companies. Some companies include:

  • Ace Authentic
  • Beckett Collectors Club Grading
  • Beckett Grading Services
  • Fanatics Authentic
  • Frameworth
  • Grey Flannel
  • Highland Mint
  • Icon Sports Memorabilia
  • James Spence Authentication
  • Major League Baseball
  • MeiGray Group

Note: Amazon doesn’t seem to be accepting applications to sell in the Sports Collectibles category at the moment. If you’ve got a great product to sell in this category, keep checking back on Amazon’s official Sports Collectibles approval page or get in touch with the Seller Central support team.

Coin Collectibles

Coins in Amazon’s coin collectibles category must meet strict guidelines.

Moving on from one collectible to another, this product category also emphasizes the sale of genuine products. Right off the bat, Amazon states that it may remove selling privileges unless 100% of your items are either issued by a legally recognized mint or graded by approved graders. This is in addition to meeting product requirements for this particular category. 

Sellers should also possess a membership to any one of these organizations:

  • Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA).
  • Professional Numismatist Guild (PNG).
  • Paper Money Guarantee/Numismatic Grading Corporation (PMG/NGC).
  • Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Some other criteria include:

  • A professional selling plan.
  • An Order-Defect Rate (ODR) of 0.75% or less.
  • Seller evaluation based on seller performance history, trade show participation, and more.
  • Coin authentication is only recognized from grading entities like Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).
  • Coins priced $1,500 or more must be graded by NGC or PCGS or their listing will not be allowed.

The image requirements are as follows:

  • An obverse and reverse image (1001 pixels or more on the longest side for both types), a detailed image (not mandatory but recommended), and an image that clearly displays key coin details.
  • A white background with no watermarks, inset images, or any unauthorized content.
  • Must also be suitable for all ages and the global Amazon community. 

Finally, here’s the referral fee for Collectible Coins:


Image Caption: Referral fee for Collectible Coins with a minimum applicable fee of $0.30

Note: Amazon is currently not accepting new seller applications for the Collectible Coins category. Keep checking back to see when there’s an opportunity to apply by visiting the official page.

Streaming Media Players

The Streaming Media Players category is gated to address copyright infringement concerns.  To sell products here you have to meet to following benchmarks:

  • Ensure your products don’t go against Amazon’s policy on electronics
  • Send Amazon a product sample for each model of Streaming Media Player during the application process
  • Get ready to provide additional information regarding the products you plan on selling. Also, Amazon might contact you for more details after you submit the application
  • A link to a company websites improves the chances of getting approved
  • Provide information including:
  • Brand
  • Manufacturer
  • Model Number
  • Operating System & Version
  • Hardware Specifications

Amazon does not compensate applicants for the samples they provide during the application process. The shipping costs involved in sending samples for review must be borne by the applicant. Once the application has been reviewed, Amazon will inform the seller regarding the results via email.

Video, DVD, & Blu-Ray

Amazon’s video, DVD, and blu-ray category has been made more difficult to get approved for.

In an attempt to stem the sale of counterfeit Blu-Ray/DVDs being sold in the market, Amazon has made it harder to get approved for this category. Details regarding seller performance and the information required include:

  • Be subscribed to the Professional Plan or if approved before that, upgrade to the Professional selling plan within 30 days.
  • Have an Order-Defect Rate of 1% or less
  • The Cancellation Rate must be at 2.5% or below
  • The Late Shipment Rate should be 4% or less

Note: If you do manage to get approved to sell in this category, keep routinely checking up on the content policy guidelines which keep changing over time.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Let’s go over some questions we get from our sellers related to ungating on Amazon

Is it Hard to Get Ungated on Amazon?

It depends on which gated category you wish to sell in. Some categories are easier to get into whereas others have strong barriers to entry. After successfully meeting the seller criteria, good seller performance coupled with considerable time spent selling on Amazon increases your chances of getting ungated.

Can I Pay to Get Ungated on Amazon?

There’s no legal way to ‘buy’ permission to sell in a gated product category. Each category has its requirements and approval processes. However, for some categories, there is an approval fee that can go as high as $5,000. Such fees are usually non-refundable.

How Long Does it Take to Get Ungated on Amazon?

It depends. For some product categories, the application review process can take up to 2 weeks whereas for others it can go for as long as 12 weeks. In some cases, Amazon might temporarily close the application process if it feels like the category does not need any more sellers.

What Can I Not Sell on Amazon?

Items that cannot be sold on Amazon are referred to as restricted products. These vary from one Amazon marketplace to another. The sale of certain products is prohibited sometimes due to Amazon’s policies whereas in other cases it could be due to state and federal laws. 

Conclusion

Ungating a product category on Amazon can range from easy to really, really difficult. Depending on the region, gated categories can vastly differ and it is your job to know which products are prohibited and which are not.

To ensure you stay on the right path and can compete against the big players, ZonGuru offers a dedicated team of Amazon sellers to guide you. Want to be guided by the vest? Check out our expert live training page and become a part of the elite ZonGuru seller community today!

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