Menu

Amazon’s Hazardous Materials (“HazMat”) policy is very confusing.  Items that people have sold before using FBA are suddenly forbidden. Items that are clearly not HazMat are put in HazMat for review.  It can be very annoying and expensive for a seller – particularly if an item you sent in is now considered HazMat.  A new seller I know had that happen to her recently. She had sent in some items that were suddenly – after being listed for some time – considered HazMat and Amazon destroyed them. That’s right. She couldn’t even have them returned to her, they were just trashed.  And these weren’t cheapie $8 Spiderman toys (like in my case last year), either. I felt so bad for her and it led to this blog post.

There are several things going on at Amazon.com in regards to HazMat and they relate specifically to Amazon.com’s insurance company that protects them from warehouse loss of all kinds including losing our stuff in the warehouse, damaging our stuff and shipping our expensive items, and then catastrophic stuff like fire, etc.:

  1. New items – As new items are added to the Amazon catalog, they are automatically put in a queue for HazMat review. This process normally takes a week and then the item usually clears. After a week you can request your item be expedited if it hasn’t cleared yet.
  2. Old items – This is the most frustrating.  Amazon also has to go through items that are already on the catalog and make sure they are in compliance. There are tens of millions of listings on Amazon and it is taking time. This is why something you’ve been selling successfully may suddenly be HazMat. In this case, as with my friend, you are s-c-r-e-w-e-d. It sucks.
  3. Changes in products/regulations – I’ve had this happen several times where a toy was discovered to have a hazardous paint on it or not in compliance with some rule or regulation. It may be recalled by the manufacturer. In this situation, Amazon will give you a choice of having the item returned or disposed of. In the case of my collectible game, it was the die and I had replaced the missing die anyway, but it didn’t matter. I had to remove the game.
  4. Manufacturer complaints — The original manufacturer of the item complained and got Amazon to remove all third-party sellers from the catalog. This happened to me with some Disney party plates. Not the matching napkins, just the plates. It was weird. I had them returned and did the walk of shame at Target to get my money back. While your item will be immediately de-listed, you can have it returned.

OK, so now the other most frequently asked question about HazMat – isn’t there a list somewhere that I can check?  The answer is YES and NO. There is a list of items that are generally considered HazMat (see below). But not item by item. HazMat products are regularly listed on the Amazon.com catalog. Why? Because merchant sellers are welcome to sell these items!  If a product has been previously designated HazMat, you will be notified when you try to ship the product in.

Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) And Dangerous Units

The following products cannot be processed by Fulfillment by Amazon:

  • Products that are regulated as a hazardous material by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This includes, but is not limited to, explosives, compressed gases or aerosols, flammable liquids or solids, oxidizers, poisons and corrosive materials. Please refer to the Hazardous Materials Identification Guide for additional information on Amazon policy regarding Hazardous Materials.
    • Lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, or products containing those batteries either within or with the main product can be processed by FBA as long as the required information is provided. See Lithium Battery Requirements for required information.
  • Vehicle batteries
  • Products regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), such as controlled substances and listed chemicals and their derivatives as designated by the DEA.
  • Any device, drug, dietary supplement or similar substance that requires a prescription or a medical professional’s supervision or direction for their use.
  • Products prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • A plant that is not permitted for sale in all U.S. jurisdictions or is not double packaged to discourage infestation by pests.
  • A product that is subject to a product recall.
  • Any product that cannot be lawfully sold and distributed in all US jurisdictions, including: radar detectors, foie gras, baby crib bumpers, airsoft guns, and throwing knives.
  • A live animal of any kind, including insects.
  • Cigars, cigarettes, dipping tobacco, E-cigarettes, or other tobacco products.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Guns (excluding cap guns), gun parts, gun kits (excluding model gun kits for model guns that are not capable of firing any ammunition), mace, and black powder and other types of ammunition (excluding bb bullets, caps, and air gun balls).

Potential Problems By Category

This list from Amazon is “potential problems,” not “forbidden.” Not all of these are automatically HazMat. I’m selling body wash on Amazon right now, for example.  I also sell remote control toys and other items that have batteries in them.  Some batteries are OK others are not. You just need to make sure you have permission from Amazon before you send it in. For many products, they will tell you when you try to list it that it is HazMat. For example, I tried to send in a baby bedding set and could not figure out why it was considered HazMat! I called in and was told that crib bumpers are forbidden. Ah!

If you see Amazon and/or FBA sellers selling an item, it is probably OK since they have to store it in the same warehouse.  Except….when it isn’t.

For example, you are not allowed to sell Kindles – not because they are HazMat (despite what they say below!!!) but because Amazon doesn’t want the competition or potential customer service problems with Kindles sold by a third-party. After all, Kindles are stored in an Amazon warehouse.

Product Category Example Products Potential for Hazmat
Automotive & Powersports
  • Car batteries
  • Shocks and struts
  • Stereos
  • Emergency car kits
May contain lead-acid or non-spillable batteries, compressed air or gas, or explosives
Baby Products (excluding apparel)
  • Creams
  • Oils
  • Sunscreen
May contain alcohol in different forms
Beauty
  • Hairspray
  • Nail polish
  • Hair dyes
  • Mousse
  • Mascara
  • Gels
  • Body spray
  • Perfume
  • Cologne
  • Aftershave
  • Shaving creams or gels
May contain aerosols, alcohol, or flammable liquids or solids in different forms
Camera & Photo
  • Digital cameras
  • Replacement camera batteries
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries
Cell Phones & Accessories
  • All cell phones
  • Replacement cell phone batteries
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries
Consumer Electronics
  • Laptops
  • Computer parts
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries
Grocery & Gourmet Food
  • Cocktail bitters
  • Oils
  • Extracts
May contain alcohol or flammable liquids or solids in different forms
Health & Personal Care
  • Body wash
  • Soaps
  • Dietary supplements
May contain aerosols, alcohol, or flammable liquids in different forms
Home & Garden
  • Room or linen sprays
  • Essential oils
  • Diffusers
  • Kitchen or bathroom cleaners
  • Lawn care products
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Insecticides
May contain aerosols, alcohol, flammable liquids or solids, or corrosive materials in different forms
Industrial & Scientific
  • Chemistry sets
  • Lab chemicals or equipment
  • Other potentially hazardous liquids, powders, or solids
May contain lead-acid or non-spillable batteries, lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries, alcohol in different forms, or flammable or non-flammable gases
Kindle Accessories
  • Kindles
  • Reading lights
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries
Office Products
  • Dry-erase or drawing markers
  • Ink cartridges
  • Glues
  • Calculators
  • Printers
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries, or alcohol or flammable or solids liquids in different forms
Personal Computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Wireless mice or keyboards
  • Computer parts
  • Accessories
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries
Sports & Outdoors
  • Matches
  • Fuel gel tabs
  • First aid kits
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Insect repellent
  • Lighters
  • Flares
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries, alcohol in different forms, or flammable or non-flammable gases
Tools & Home Improvement
  • Nailers
  • Staplers
  • Power tools containing compressed-air cartridges
  • Cordless drills or screwdrivers
  • Paint
  • Spray paint
May contain lead-acid or non-spillable batteries, aerosols, or flammable or non-flammable gases
Toys & Games
  • Remote-controlled toys
  • Craft kits
  • Glues
  • Electronic learning devices
May contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries, flammable liquids or solids in different forms
Watches
  • Most watches
Many watches contain lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries

FBA Prohibited Products

Certain products may be eligible for sale on the Amazon platform, but cannot be sold through the Fulfillment by Amazon program. The following products cannot be sold through Fulfillment by Amazon:

  • Vehicle Tires
  • Gift cards, gift certificates and other stored value instruments.
  • Products with unauthorized marketing materials (e.g., pamphlets, price-tags, or other non-Amazon stickers). Amazon will not accept pre-priced labels or products.
  • Products that are greater than 144 inches by 96 inches by 96 inches or weigh more than 150 pounds.
  • Products that require prep and have not been prepped according to the requirements in the FBA Packaging and Prep Requirements section.
  • Damaged or defective Units.
    • Note: Used condition products may have damage as long as the product is labeled with the appropriate condition.
  • Products with labels that were not properly registered with Amazon before shipment or that do not match the product that was registered.
  • Products that do not comply with any agreement between Amazon and the seller.
  • Products that have been illegally replicated, reproduced, or manufactured. We reserve the rights to destroy and to deny removal requests for any inventory identified as counterfeit.
  • Products that Amazon otherwise determines are unsuitable.
  • Products prohibited for sale on Amazon.com.

Notice how Amazon can simply decide that something is unsuitable? It may not make sense to you, but there is nothing you can do about it. “Counterfeit” is why a lot of CD/DVD/VHS sellers are finding their products de-listed and/or destroyed. The manufacturer can call in and say that Amazon is selling counterfeit versions of its product and they have to cancel everyone since they have no way of knowing who is counterfeit and who is legit.

OK, remember my YES and NO up above?  Amazon.com does offer more specific guidelines by category. If you sell a lot in a particular category, you’ll want to review your category so you can be on the alert for potential problems.  Go to this page and scroll down.  You’ll see links to every category which have restricted products that are prohibited for sale on Amazon.com. My favorite? “Human Parts & Burial Artifacts.” Yuck. This includes wigs, by the way.

Recalled Products

Another reason your product might get into trouble is if it is recalled. This is what happened to my collectible game. It can happen at any time. In my case, Amazon informed me with an email, delisted my product and gave me the option to have the game sent back to me or destroyed.  Amazon relies on several federal recall websites for its information and you can too if you have any concerns:

There are certain categories of products that are more likely to have recalls including Baby, Toy, Beauty and Food. I don’t even look at car seats, high chairs, playpens, strollers or walkers in the Baby category, for example. Too much potential recall risk. In Toys, most recalls are either HazMat (too much lead in the paint, etc.) and/or for babies or toddlers. Most 8-year-olds are not at risk of choking on a toy. I stick with big brands in these high-recall categories – they have a proven track record of safe products.

There is not much you can do about recalled products except do your best to avoid potential problems up front. If the manufacturer is recalling the product and yours is new, you can turn to the manufacturer for reimbursement. They should take care of you. In the case of my collectible game, I was out of luck. The manufacturer wasn’t producing the product any more and my die weren’t even the faulty die. They would have sent me a new set of die for free which wasn’t worth the trouble or the hit to my integrity.

One Last Warning

HazMat has additional hazards beyond losing expensive merchandise.  You can lose your right to sell on Amazon. When I sent in my Spiderman Web Shooters, I did not get a warning when I listed it and sent it in. I got a firm warning from Amazon after it arrived at the warehouse and they had destroyed all of them.  I called in freaked and upset. I was thinking “toy” but the warehouse was thinking “contents under pressure.” I got off with a warning. It was my first time and – as I pointed out to them – they did let me send it in.

I asked the cheerful lady at SellerSupport how I could avoid making this mistake again in the future and she said “call us.” It is not a perfect solution. Like I mentioned, I was thinking “toy” so I sent it in with no doubt or concern whatsoever…and didn’t think to call them for a toy.  Your best bet is to do what I had to do which is saturate my brain with potential problem products in my major categories.

If I see a licensed product without FBA sellers that could be a potential problem, I now call to make sure before I send it in.  That would have helped me with the Avenger party plates, for example. I remember being so excited that there were no FBA sellers….sigh. Now I know that to be a potential red flag.

This is a long post and I don’t want anyone to feel particularly worried or anxious. There are jillions on products to sell on Amazon that are perfectly OK. Reading up and thinking about potential problems will help keep you out of trouble in most cases. You may wish to avoid certain products altogether like baby car seats.  If you buy a problem product by mistake, it is OK to do the walk of shame and return it. We’ve all been there! That is so much better than having your stuff destroyed at the warehouse.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Facebook Comments