What You Can and Cannot Sell on EBAY including ivory, guns but porn is ok!
Know the eBay auction rules and make money
Its all pretty confusing, contradictory and funny.
Ebay is a huge company, I mean a really huge company, I've been a member since 1998 under my seller name of plcombs.
So with all of that they have to have in place some controls on what gets sold, obviously they cannot review each new listing to see if it meets the guidelines manually, so they use computers to scan for certain words and listing titles. They scan for intentionally misspelled words that attempt to get past these safe guards. So its up to the Sellers to know What You Can and Cannot Sell on EBAY.
They check and try to their best (quite effectively I might add) to keep bootleg Designer clothing off the site. Which is a daunting task I am sure, they have experts who can revue listings to verify the authenticity of items. If they fail Ralf Lauren, COACH, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, GUCCI and dozens more will have their attorney's filing lawsuits and asking for injunctions faster than you can say Handbag.
However their is also a whole bevy of things you cannot sell as well for a variety of reasons. Some are legal issues here and abroad and others are for reasons as silly as political correctness yet allowing things you might not imagine.
So, lets get started: What You Can and Cannot Sell on EBAY
Adult Only Content? Yes it can be sold in the Adult only Area, you have to be 18 to get in this part of the site, they check your age by asking you if you're over 18. Seems fail proof to me, a minor would never lie about such a thing on the Internet. Their are restrictions so read-up on it before you try and sell anything.
Alchohol? Not allowed unless you get "pre-approval" , you can however sell beer and wine making kits! Or a rare bottle of wine and not intended for consumption. Check the guidelines for the particulars.
Animals and Wildlife Products? Its a tough category to figure out. You cannot sell pets and most live animals, however their are few exceptions if you get a Government permit first. You can sell certain insects if the are being sold as pet food. Hatching eggs can be sold inside the USA if they aren't endangered species, most shell fish if they are being sold as food is ok as are domestic snails and some slugs. mmm yummy slugs! Most birds, are not allowed so don't even try it. For a laugh read the list linked to "Most Birds".
Animal Traps? Live catch traps are fine as are mouse traps and fish traps, Steel leg hold traps over 5.5" are a no, no. If you have an animal to get rid of that won't fit in 5.5" trap get a pistol and shoot it.
Hunting and Fishing Trips? Basically they are allowed with some details that need to be clear in the listings. You cannot offer a "canned hunt" which is when you fence in an animal and let someone shoot it after they pay you. Doesn't seem very sporting anyway. You cannot Guarantee a successful hunt either, you can say "a kill is VERY likely, we have shot something 99 out of 100 trips" though, if its true and its not a customer that got shot.
Ivory or Bone? If the item is over 100 years old and the Ivory content does not exceed 5%, which is usually inlay you're ok! Be careful to mention in the listing the year or approximate year the item was created. You cannot sell: the following Ivory items; Canes, Jewelry, Chess Pieces or sets, Figurines, Scrimshaw, this includes Netsukes etc. You cannot sell anything made from Whalebone or any other marine animal regardless of when it was harvested. However, if you have an authentic Alaskan native craft made from sea otters or seals they can be sold as long as they have no ivory content.
- How sellers get around it: With all of this said, hundreds of sellers get around the IVORY ban by using the words "Ox Bone" or "Stag Horn" instead of "Ivory"..the other day, over 2,000 listings in the Asian Category alone were described as "Ox Bone" or had "Stag Horn" contained within the descriptions. More than half of them are Elephant Ivory, some of it brand new.
Stuffed Birds? This is one of my favorites, the rules are convoluted and illogical but, in case you haven't noticed by now, Ebay has a real problem with hunters and folks who use guns. On Ebay you can sell mounted ducks or waterfowl as long as they were domestically bred. How can you tell? Regardless that's the rule. Eggs, feathers from captive bred birds can also be sold. This does not include Eagles, Eagle feathers or Hawks, Falcons etc..and NOT any Owls they aren't game birds for the average hunter. Migratory birds once again of any kind are verboten and pretty much any bird that lives in the wild regardless of whether it's endangered or not. Not even Hummingbirds!
Turtles and Tortoise Shell Items? You can only sell things made from Turtle shells if they are harvested form non endangered species. Here is a list of the ENDANGERED or Restricted Species 39 all together. If you do a listing of an old Tortoise Shell Comb make sure to identify the species. Good luck with that! No you cannot just say "Old Turtle".
- How sellers get around it: Easy as pie, they use the word "Faux" Tortoise Shell in quotes, to find them simply type in "Tortoise Shell" in the search bar or "Faux Tortoise Shell" then open the drop down menu "Sort By" and pick Highest Price First. If the asking or Buy It No Price is over a couple hundred bucks, its probably real Tortoise Shell.
CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, check this site if you have any questions about anything you think might be restricted for export.
Art? Of course you can, however you cannot sell fraudulent reproductions and stolen paintings, prints, engravings etc. If you know where the paintings are from the Gardner Museum Robbery in Boston don't sell them on Ebay, take them back for the reward. Its illegal to sell stolen paintings on the site anyway.
Alaskan and Native American Art? This category is fairly complicated and has a few US Government Regulations covering it. So I am going to simply insert the text directly from the Ebay site:
"Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, any item described as Alaska Native, American Indian, or Native American must be made by an enrolled member of a state or federally recognized tribe or by someone certified as an Indian artisan by a recognized Indian tribe.
If you have questions, call the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) at 202-208-3773 or visit the IACB website.
Native American and Alaska Native and American Indian Arts is ok IF:
1934 or earlier authentic Alaska Native, American Indian, or Native American arts and crafts should be listed in Collectibles > Cultures & Ethnicities > Native American: US > and in one of the following subcategories:
1935 or later authentic Alaska Native, American Indian, or Native American arts and crafts can be listed, as long as sellers include the artisan’s name and tribal affiliation in the item description.
Items created by non-tribe members can be described as Alaska Native, American Indian, or Native American only if the seller meets both of these requirements:
The artisan is certified by the governing body of a tribe.
This information is included in the listing.
Saying something is Native American Style," type", "form" etc is not allowed and no you cannot insert the word Alaska or North America either. If its not a Native Craft then you have to list it under the appropriate category providing it meets other Ebay requirements.
How sellers get around it:
- Inuit Art; Go onto the Internet, find an image of the Tag used on Inuit Art, copy it, print it out, make a hole, put a string tag through it, list it...and then feign ignorance if it draws negative attention.
- Pre 1934 Indian and Eskimo Material is Fine..So sellers simply say. "the lady I bought it from said her great grandfather owned it in 1900", or "Its appears to be from the late 19th C. but I am no expert"..of course the seller knows it was made in the 1950's. Dating anything after 1935 can be more trouble than its worth for many sellers.
Offering things for sale from native American or Native American graves or burial sites is not allowed. No bones, pottery, prayer sticks, ceremonial masks, if it came out of grave NO and no Grave markers either.
Automotive? basically you cannot offer anything that helps you bypass state inspection laws.
Charity? Ebay has its own giving programs, they are good ones. If you're feeling charitable, make a donation through them, they appear on your listing and might boost your sales!
Used Under Clothing? (I know it sounds disgusting, but the world is full of nuts.) Bathing suits, Bras, Pantyhose, Spandex, Wrestling Singlets and Vintage undergarments are basically ok. Briefs, Boxer Shorts, Jock Straps Children's Size underwear, Thongs, Panties ARE not ok...
Used Cosmetics? Seriously, yes they had to prohibit it, No No No No...This is one thing you want to buy new. You can sell them if they have never been used and haven't been opened, still its pretty gross.
Currency? Replica play money is ok and most coins, when the value is placed at over $2,500 you have to have it graded. NO you cannot sell counterfeit money, unless you want to go to a Federal Prison.
Credit Cards? You can only sell blank cards with no magnetic strip. NO other cards are allowed, not prepaid ones..none.
Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia? You can sell Poppy seeds as long as you do not mention an illegal use for them, its big secret how they are used apparently.
You can sell "regular cigarette papers", Milk Glass Pipes, Kitchen "Herb" Grinders. You can also sell on a limited basis Syringes but not needles in the same listing (very odd), Hookahs as long as they are over 18" tall, Incense, Snuff Bullets (whatever that is), "Peace Pipes" as long as it wasn't made by a real Indian.
NOW What you cannot sell!! Any pipe made from metal, acrylic, glass, plastic or Ivory. Further you cannot sell Water Pipes, chamber pipes, carburetor pipes, electric pipes, ice pipes, bongs, chillums, Hookahs under 18" tall, dugout pipes and one hitters, Pipes being described as being used for smoking peyote or opium regardless of age, weird cigarette papers, Vaporizers used with alcohol and tobacco and complete disposable syringes.
and NO you cannot sell pot, LSD, MDA, Meth, Crack, Opium, Heroin, Oxy, Hashish or Cocaine etc. either...
How sellers get around it:
- Pot Grinders Instead of calling it an "Herb Grinder" they now call them a number of names such as "Herbal Vaporizer, Grinder" some come with a BUTANE lighter! or some such combination, but always or often using the word "Herbal". In the real world they are just Called "Marijuana Vaporizers". Anyway, type in "Herbal Vaporizers" on the Ebay Home Page Search Bar, then click "Tobacciana" on the left side of the screen in the Category list...
- Opium Pipes are often listed as Chinese Tobacco Pipes, Tibetan Tobacco Pipes, or just Asian Tobacco Pipe. Easy enough to find.
- Hookahs can be sold by adding an extension for the picture making it over 18" tall. Or they just sell them as Hookahs and they are all 18" tall...not bad looking either. They even have their own Category "Hookahs and Water Pipes".
Electronics and radio Transmitters? READ THIS...its too long to explain. Also very boring...you cannot sell wiretapping equipment, miniature transmitters, surveillance bugs, and camera's designed to take dirty pictures without the subject's permission.
Items From Embargoed Countries? NO NO NO Including: Iran, Cuba, Burma, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Other than Cuba, this makes sense.
Firearms? This category is almost too funny to do, but I'll give it a whirl! Airsoft guns can be sold if the buyer is over 18 and the Orange tip is shown in the pictures you take, (the seller can be 12, but I quibble) the ammunition and clips for Airsoft type guns can also be sold as long as you have a picture of it, that way they can tell whether you're selling a toy or a real AK-47 Clip. Miniature Guns like those that come with toys can be sold..so GI-Joe can be sold with his gun. Replica training arms can be sold as long as they do not shoot anything, it also has to be illustrated to ensure you're not selling a real gun. Paint Ball cannons cannot be sold PERIOD, Silencers for: Airsoft guns, replica guns or any imitation firearm cannot be sold. (Airsoft guns are very quiet and replicas make no noise at all so I guess the silencer market for them must be pretty thin). You can sell Ammunition for BB guns, Pellet guns and Airsoft guns, but not BB or Pellet guns themselves. Blank Ammo, Bullets, buck shot, lead shot cartridges, casings, shells, hulls, dummy ammo, gunpowder, primers, inert ammo or live ammunition.
More under the gun category you cannot sell; You can sell accessories that fit assault weapons but cannot say so or depict it in your listing. Not any weapon described as an Assault Weapon by the state of California or the Federal Government, no bayonets that fit assault weapons, no blue prints for making Assault weapons, no Flash Suprssors, No Grenade Launchers.
BB Guns, nor air rifles, air pistols cannot be sold (the ammo can though)
No Firearms can be sold including: Handgrenades, missles, napalm, tech 9's, Shotguns, Long Rifles, .44 Cal Handguns, Surface to air missiles, any and all Military ordinance. No Ammo or cartridges for any firearm can be sold as well.
Knives and Hand weapons? you cannot sell; Brass knuckles, raised knuckle knives, lead filled canes, lead filled clubs, lead filled sticks, lead filled cructhes, nightsticks, billy clubs, Monadnok batons, Tonfas, truncheons, Nunchakus, sand clubs, slug shots, blackjacks etc. You also basically cannot sell ANY knife that was made for anything other eating dinner, a regular pocket knife, slicing bread. For more details visit the weapons prohibition area.
Body Armor can be sold as long as it isn't Military Issue.
Dangerous Material? No fireworks of ANY kind, not even sparklers..ok? Nothing, nor gasoline, Flsh paper, red phosphorous, flare guns, Thermite, used cooking or motor oil. Most pesticides are banned, legal and otherwise. Radioactive materials cannot be sold, so you'll have to get yellow cake elsewhere for your bomb making kits, the plans for which you can buy on Ebay. (they aren't excluded)
Human Body Parts? The only thing you can sell is clean Whigs made from human hair. And Cleaned none Native American skulls for medical research can be sold, so if you have one around the house make a listing! Forget the rest including body fluids. (yuuuck)
Locks and Lock Picking? You can sell blank keys and antique skeleton keys, key guides and parts for cutting machines. Beyond that, not much. No lock picking sets, Cam cutters, code cutters, lock pick guns, books on how to pick locks, skeleton keys, slim jims, tension bars or try out keys. (get and job and stop stealing stuff, become an Ebay seller!)
Offensive Material? This is another one of my favorites. No items taken from the World Trade Center attack (its just very bad taste), no crime scene material, or items that are insensitive to victims of natural disasters.
The KKK memorabilia price guides are ok, magazine articles etc..are fine. BUT no pictures thet predominantly display KKK symbols, flags etc. No KKK images of burning crosses if a person is being hung in them as well. No Actual KKK memorabilia, no hoods, tokens, rings, uniforms, music, knives etc..as well as newsletters ( I didn't know they could read or write) or any material that promotes these dreadful people.
Property and material related to crimes and criminals If the crime is over 100 years old, its basically ok, i.e. Jesse James, Lizzie Borden, jack the Ripper, but not The Zodiac Killer or Jeff Dahmer.. interestingly you cannot sell OJ's Book "If I Did It" either...
NAZI Germany Basically nothing related to the Nazi's can be sold on Ebay with the exception of post war books, wartime stamps, currency, cancelled stamps with NAZI postmarks. Other than that nothing. No Daggers, no uniforms, no flags, no movies..zip nothing.
Police and Law Enforcement Stuff? You can sell replica children's badges and things but NO official Lucite cased badges from ANY official Government Agency. From the FBI to Bureau of Indian Affairs. Nor any Movie Prop replica badges. No emergency lighting for cars, trucks or motorcycles. Also no Sirens!
Tobacco? You know the answer but their are a few exceptions for the collectible category under Tobacciana , so read up, its pretty much common sense.
Last and not least!
Stolen Property and Property with Ground Off Serial Numbers? NO No NO NO NO NEVER Nada, NOPE!
Here is a link to Ebays Policy Pages for more information, or bookmark this page for quick reference.