Amazon Gated Categories: How to Get Approved in Restricted Categories

The Amazon marketplace is not a free-for-all. Here’s how gated categories work, and the process for getting approved to sell in them.

It is no secret that Amazon restricts sellers from offering products in certain categories. To sell products in these “gated” categories, sellers have to go through an approval process. However, this process varies greatly depending on the category you are trying to get “ungated”.

In this article, we explain which categories are gated and the information you need to provide to get approved. We also look at the big questions that many sellers have about restricted categories and explain whether getting ungated is really worth the effort.

Why does Amazon restrict or “gate” certain categories?

As the number of third-party sellers on Amazon has grown, so has the risk to Amazon’s reputation. If a customer receives a faulty, counterfeit or poor-quality item, it won’t be the seller they’ll blame, it’ll be Amazon.

So to protect customers, and themselves, Amazon restricts categories which are particularly susceptible to counterfeiting and quality issues.

To get approved, sellers have to submit information about their business and their products. From this, Amazon can make sure that only genuine sellers with authentic products are selling in these categories.

Which categories are gated?

At the present time, Amazon restricts and requires approval for the following top-level categories:

  • Automotive & Powersports
  • Collectibles (e.g. books, coins, sports and entertainment)
  • Fine Art
  • Fine Jewelry
  • Grocery & Gourmet Food
  • Major Appliances
  • Video, DVD & Blu-Ray
  • Watches

The Toys & Games category is also gated during the holiday selling season.

So are the other categories completely open?

No, just because the category is not gated does not mean that other restrictions don’t apply. Some of the most common things to look out for other than category restrictions are:

Gated subcategories

In some cases, Amazon does not restrict the whole category, just specific subcategories.

For example, you don’t need approval to sell in the Health and Beauty categories, but you do to sell in the Topicals subcategory. It is not always obvious which subcategories are gated, so it’s always best to do your research and test the waters before buying a lot of stock.

Restricted brands

These are restricted brands that third-party sellers need approval for before they can sell them on Amazon.

The restriction can be on the entire brand, or just apply to certain products. Examples of restricted brands include Adidas, Apple, Bose, Levi’s and MAC Cosmetics.

Restricted products

There are also restricted products that are either banned entirely, or need prior approval to sell on Amazon.

Usually, these are products that could be harmful or have had serious product quality issues in the past. Popular items currently on the list of restricted products include streaming media players and laser devices.

Condition restrictions

Some products on Amazon can only be sold in certain conditions (new or used, for example). For example, there are many categories where sellers can only list new items, such as Clothing & Accessories, Watches and Baby Products.

It is also worth remembering that Amazon’s restricted categories are constantly changing. Categories that are open right now may not be in a few months’ time. So it’s also worth checking regularly on any category you plan to sell in, or are selling in now, that doesn’t currently require approval.

Exactly which categories are restricted? How do I get approved?

The best way to see exactly which categories, products and brands are restricted, and find out the specific requirements for approval, is to try and list a product for sale.

But that doesn’t mean you should wait until you have purchased stock. Instead just start walking through the process to discover if any restrictions are in place. Also check out Amazon’s category overview and restricted products help pages, but use caution as they can sometimes be subject to interpretation or simply out of date.

You can request approval to sell in any of Amazon’s restricted categories through Seller Central. Once you’ve logged in:

  1. Click on the Inventory tab and select “Add a Product”
  2. Find the product that you want to sell
  3. Click the link that says “Listing limitations apply”
  4. Click the “Request Approval” button

The application form is pretty straightforward. It starts by asking you to select the markets that you want to sell in. You will then be asked for information about the products that you want to sell, including the number of units you have and their condition.

Finally, you need to specify whether your images meet Amazon’s requirements. If they do, you can upload them and submit your application.

What are the typical requirements for approval?

Each category has its own specific rules, but requirements that apply to many categories include:

  • Being on the professional selling plan
  • Completion of the application form
  • Good performance metrics, which generally means:
    • Order Defect Rate less than 1%
    • Pre-Fulfillment Cancellation rate less than 2.5%
    • Late Shipment Rate less than 4%
  • Evidence of authenticity (such as proof that your suppliers are licensed dealers)
  • Acceptable invoices for your inventory
  • A company website

Which categories have special requirements for approval?

Alongside the typical requirements above, Amazon requires additional information from sellers for approval in certain gated categories. These include:

Automotive & Powersports

To sell in the Automotive & Powersports category, sellers must also:

  • Have compliant product images hosted on an independent website or image hosting site
  • Provide either a manufacturer or re-manufacturer warranty for all certified refurbished products

Fine Art

To sell in the Fine Art category, sellers must:

  • Have been selling fine art for a minimum of three years
  • Have a strong online presence either on their own site or a third-party site

Fine Jewelry

This is the hardest of all Amazon’s gated categories to break into, including an ungating fee in the thousands of dollars. Additional requirements include:

  • Having at least 12 months experience of selling on Amazon with annual revenue of $50,000 or more
  • At least one brick-and-mortar store, with an average revenue of $50,000 or more

Wine

To sell wine on Amazon, sellers have to be a licensed winery or importer, or a wholesaler with retail sales privileges.

What are the requirements for invoices?

Invoices are a crucial part of the approval process. They help Amazon decipher where your stock is coming from and, most importantly, whether it’s authentic. Get this step wrong and it is going to destroy your chances of getting approved.

Before you submit invoices, assess for yourself whether they will pass Amazon’s invoice verification process. Some of the key factors are:

  • The invoices need to be legible, so make sure they are scanned or photographed in high quality with no smears or blurs.
  • Make sure that the invoices are recent. Invoices for certain categories, including grocery, need to be from the last 180 days or Amazon won’t accept them.
  • The invoices must name the products you purchased and clearly show where you sourced them from.
  • Both your physical address and phone number and your supplier’s physical address and phone number should be on the invoices.
  • Make sure that your address on the invoices matches your address in Seller Central.
  • Never submit a handwritten invoice.

It is also worth noting that when it comes to seeking approval in gated categories, retail receipts and purchase orders aren’t going to cut it. Only detailed business invoices that meet all the criteria will be good enough.

If you are approved in a category can you sell anything there?

This is a common mistake that sellers make. Just because you have been approved for the top-level category, does not mean that you can sell any product within that category.

To recap:

  • Gated subcategories: subcategories can be gated and have their own approval process.
  • Restricted brands: certain brands also have their own approval process. Be aware of these and don’t get stuck with stock that you aren’t allowed to sell.
  • Restricted products: you need approval to sell products that Amazon sees as being potentially dangerous. Some are banned entirely.
  • Condition restrictions: in many categories you can’t sell used or refurbished goods. So, make sure you know the restrictions for the categories that you sell in.

For more information see above So are the other categories completely open?

What is an ungating service?

Amazon category ungating services help sellers apply to sell in restricted categories.

They handle the application process, from making sure you’ve got the right documentation and invoices, to filling out the application form. Many boast 100% success rates or guarantee that they can get you approved in any of Amazon’s restricted categories.

If you are struggling with the approval process, it might be worth considering one of these services. But be aware that they don’t do anything that you can’t do yourself. They are not official Amazon service providers and have no special status or priority access to Amazon. They also can’t really guarantee that you will be approved, as the decision is out of their hands.

Selling on Amazon and other marketplaces involves a lot of policies, processes and rules, and gated categories are just another chapter in that rule book. If reading, comprehending and following detailed rules is not your strength then your Amazon selling career is going to be tough!

What’s the difference between restricted categories, restricted brands and restricted products?

Amazon is a complex marketplace and it’s easy for sellers to confuse the different types of restrictions. Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • Restricted categories: these are entire categories of products, such as Grocery & Gourmet Food. Sellers need approval to sell any product that falls within that category.
  • Restricted brands: these are brands (makes or manufacturers), e.g. Adidas, that third-party sellers are restricted from selling on Amazon.
  • Restricted products: these are narrow product types, such as children’s toys containing lasers, that sellers need approval to sell.

How can you tell which categories you are approved for?

To check which categories you have been approved to sell in, you need to log in to Seller Central. Then:

  1. Click on the “Inventory” tab
  2. Select “Add a Product”
  3. Click the link “Selling application status”

This brings up a table showing you all the different categories that you have been approved to sell in.

You can also use the filters to see the categories where you’re still awaiting approval or where you’ve been denied access.

Is the Toys & Games category restricted or open?

The Toys & Games category is only subject to restrictions during the holiday season. These restrictions begin on October 17th each year and run through to the first week of January the following year.

Amazon put restrictions in place in other categories to address product quality issues. The holiday restrictions in Toys & Games, however, are there to help make sure sellers can keep up with increased Q4 demand.

To sell in Toys & Games during the holiday season, sellers must meet the following criteria:

  • Your first sale on Amazon must be prior to August 18 of the current year. This doesn’t have to be in the Toys & Games category.
  • You must have processed and shipped at least 25 orders from August 1st to October 1st of the current year. This can be in any category.
  • A pre-fulfillment cancellation rate no higher than 1.75% from September 1st to September 30th of the current year.
  • A late shipment rate no higher than 4% from September 1st to September 30th of the current year
  • An order defect rate no higher than 1% (short term) as of October 1st of the current year.

Note that the holiday selling restriction in Toys & Games is for merchant-fulfilled products. Items fulfilled using FBA are not affected.

Are Health & Personal Care and Beauty gated categories?

The Health and Beauty categories used to be restricted as a whole, but this is no longer the case.

However, specific subcategories are now gated instead. These include, but may not be limited to:

  • Contraceptives
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Feminine Hygiene
  • OTC Medication
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Topical

Just like with gated categories, you can apply to sell in gated subcategories through Seller Central. The process is just the same, although the specific requirements will vary and might include a fee.

Is getting approved really worth the effort?

There is no doubt that Amazon’s category restrictions can be confusing. They change often and can be difficult to decipher.

But at the same time, it’s definitely worth persevering and trying to gain approval. Category restrictions are a barrier to entry and if you can hurdle them, you’ll have a clear advantage over sellers that don’t get approved, or don’t even try.

Ultimately, there are some elements of selling on Amazon that are easier than others. But the parts that are harder, like getting approved in restricted categories, are the most powerful. By accessing them, you set yourself apart and face less competition.

The rewards can be great for sellers who are willing to take the time, learn Amazon’s processes and go beyond the basics.

This article is an updated version of a post first published in August 2015.

29 comments on “Amazon Gated Categories: How to Get Approved in Restricted Categories

  1. What if we source online where we receive invoices to our email inbox? Can we submit those invoices for amazon review?

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Thank you for this enlightening article.

      This is the best article I’ve found on the topic so far. I like that you minimise the barriers of selling in the restricted categories. I have a few questions on some points of the article:

      I am aiming to apply to the clothing category. I am confident I have most of the requirements (pictures ready, more than five products). I have an ecommerce website, It’s just ready now (shopping cart works). However, as you can imagine, sales are low for now.

      Now I noticed you mentioned “But if you have no online sales experience at all, it would be best to start selling some products in an open category to build up your customer metrics and get some positive feedback under your belt”. What do you mean exactly by this?

      On the invoice front, you say the following: “The requirement is usually for three invoices from different sources.” What do you mean by “from different sources?” I work with one supplier at the moment, a reliable one too. Are you suggesting that I work with more than one supplier?

      Again, thank you for the tips, I’ll be using this article as a reminder on my way to getting amazon’s approval.

      David

      1. Hi David,

        As part of the process of approving you to sell in restricted categories, Amazon will take into account your seller history. They will look at your Amazon seller account, or you can show a good seller history through your own website. If you have no previous experience as a seller, it will help your application if you start with open category products to build up your seller metrics before you apply for restricted categories.

        Amazon usually require three invoices from three different suppliers or three from the same supplier, to ungate a category. If you can’t provide three invoices, Amazon will take into account other documentation. Just make sure your invoices include the UPC/EAN, and all the details of the supplier, VAT, company number, website and contact details for verification. It might also help to include any existing ASINs currently on Amazon, and a photo of your products.

        Hope this helps.

  2. Great post Lauren!
    If i’m planning to create my Private Label product in one of these categories (Beauty) is the approval-process the same or should I first apply for brand registry on Amazon? I’m currently selling PL products in non-restricted category, and I didn’t apply yet for brand.registry..

    1. Hi,
      We don’t really touch PL so difficult to provide any constructive advice on teh differences here w/regard to brand registry etc. Can anyone else chip in on this one?

  3. Does Amazon police the keyword terms used in a product listing description? In other words can words be used that the consumer does not see and do not appear any where on the listing that might otherwise be flagged as relating to a restricted item? For instance if a keyword search term is used that gives the customer access to a product that has alternative uses that might be prohibited does Amazon police the keywords the seller uses or just what the public will see on the listing?

    1. Given that the product is listed on the right category, you can use all the keywords you want if you think they relatesomehow to your product. For instance you could list a “shower head set” in Home Improvement (ungated) and add, as a search term the keyword “hygiene”, which is more related to the Health&personal care category (gated) than to the HI category. There is not such a thing as a “keyword police”, but you do have to list your product in the correct category.

    2. Hello JW,

      As Alex has said below there are no “keyword police”. The keywords you use do not appear on the listing anywhere so the customer will not be aware of these. The restriction is based on the category the product is listed in not the keywords used,

      Thanks

      Lauren

  4. This is the response I’ve been getting while trying to get approved in health & personal care:

    “as of now we are not accepting retail receipts, packing slips, sales orders, invoices from an online retailer, or pro-forma invoices.”

    If no packing slips, no invoices from an online retailer, and no retail receipts, what does that leave?? I’m confused!

  5. Okay, I went the wholesaler route and got the invoices. I bought a case on each invoice that had 24-36 items each. They’re saying now that isn’t enough. 24-36 isn’t enough? What’s the magic number?

  6. Hi Lauren,
    Great post. Crystal clear!
    I am a brand new seller on Amazon and am currently looking at buying an OEM beauty product from a Chinese supplier and sending it to an FBA warehouse in the US. What sort of documentation will I have to provide Amazon with to get approval for the product? As I am new, I have no track record or seller history. But the product is pretty tame and is already being sold on Amazon.
    Thanks for any advice you can give me.
    Tony

  7. I was told I cannot use packing slips. I was also told an invoice from an online wholesaler is not acceptable! So who am I suppose to show an invoice from then? Most business is conducted online! They won’t accept the MSDS either, even though they said they wanted the safety data forms. I’m at a loss!!!!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Amazon are quite strict about the information that needs to be shown on invoices. Make sure they include the UPC/EAN, all the details for the supplier, company name and number, VAT number, website, contact details and email for verification. It helps if the quantity shown is obviously for more than personal use, and when you submit your application, add photos of your stock, and the ASIN of the products currently on Amazon.

      Hope this helps!

      Ed from Profit Sourcery

      1. My manufacturing company is in USA and they manufacturing for me product. Do they need VAT number and why they saying to me they can’t verify vendor address from invoices?

  8. I cannot give ungated in grocery. They said I need to sell in my unlocked category cell phone and books. But I don’t know what would sell in that category?

  9. Hi Lauren:

    Great piece! I’ve collected event t-shirts (mostly sporting stuff-motorcycle meets, special baseball shirts, etc) and thought I could create listings and send FBA. Would I get into trouble with the “counterfeiting police?” Most are new (or newish) without tags. Any thoughts?

    1. You do indeed want to avoid anything that could be seen to be (or is) counterfeit….. Its difficult to give any further advice in this instance other than that – if they are genuine though then no problems in selling them on Amazon FBA from what i can see here; although Amazon may or may not see the listings as Restricted. (Some items, like La Roche Posay for example nobody other than Amazon themselves can sell)

  10. I am the manufacturer of my own product. I launched using a large, experienced Amazon seller with 800,000+ reviews. They were promoting the product and sales were brisk from day one. Suddenly, Amazon halted the sales of my product until I gave authorization, along with invoices. I gave it and it is still halted last I was informed.

    Meanwhile, a rogue seller has grabbed the buy box. They somehow got product, but are listing and selling variants (colors) they don’t have in stock and never did. I ordered a black one because I knew they didn’t have it, and they sent me a light grey one instead.

    I have asked Amazon why they halted my preferred seller that had my authorization, yet refused to to require my authorization for the rogue seller. I get the run around.

    What can I do?

  11. Hi Lauren, I’ve been selling on FBA for a while, but now I cannot replenish the inventory without getting written authorization from the manufacturer. I already have whole bunch of inventory waiting to be shipped.

  12. Hi,

    Thanks for this informative article.

    I’m a legitimate retailer in my brick and mortar store on some restricted high end brands on Amazon. I have applied with 3 legitimate documents with all required info and still keep getting rejected.
    Are there specific brands that they will just not approve no matter what? Because if I can’t get approved I can’t imagine others getting approved although many other sellers are selling them, which they may have been grandfathered into.
    Your response would be greatly appreciated

  13. Is it true that Amazon don’t accept Chinese invoice?I’ve been denied 8 times! If it’s true how do you export your goods from China for Amazon?

  14. It has been difficult being restricted in certain categories and getting them ungated. I have had an account with zero restrictions, but Amazon banned it for 2 fraudulent buyer disputes. I provided all evidence and they still sided with the buyer.

    So now I had to start all over on a new account made by Auction Essistance and get these categories ungated for me to start selling again.

  15. Hi
    I am stuck in a ground hog day situation
    As I am trying to list a Health Product which is restricted
    I then usually get a request for more info like supplying a Declaration of Conformity or invoices etc
    But the ASC generic email reply does not accept emails so I am having to re start the process again and there on line application portal only seems to accept 1 attachment per section yet they are asking for multiple documents
    Can you advise
    NB;Do you offer an application support service that I can pay for to help me through this process?
    Thanks
    Michael

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