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Policy Update: Changes to the Prohibited Items List

Aug 8, 2012

by Lauren Engelhardt handmade and vintage goods

The Policy Team at Etsy is continually working to ensure that our rules balance the perspectives of our community (both shoppers and sellers) as well as the needs of Etsy as a company. In pursuit of that balance – though odd as it may sound – we’ve spent long hours over the past several months extensively researching some offbeat and fascinating topics, from issues surrounding the sale of human bones to the corrosive and toxic properties of mercury. All this research has led us to a set of important updates to the Prohibited Items list in the DOs & DON’Ts of Etsy.

We want to maintain Etsy as a marketplace that is safe for both shoppers and sellers. In many cases, items on the prohibited list may be subject to complex legal regulations or restrictions that vary greatly by location. But beyond that, when it comes right down to it, some things just aren’t in the spirit of Etsy. While we understand that it is possible for certain items to be carefully and legally bought and sold, Etsy is just not the right venue for them.

These updates to the policy are in effect as of today, August 8, 2012. You can view the entire Prohibited Items list, as well as Etsy’s full marketplace criteria in the DOs & DON’Ts of Etsy. The changes are outlined below:

Tobacco and other smokeable products: We have long-prohibited the sale of tobacco on Etsy. We’ve added other smokeable products to the list. This includes, but is not limited to, items such as herbal smoking blends, tobacco-alternatives, and other products that one might commonly smoke in a pipe or cigarette form. (Note: Incense – as a product that is burned to release a scent into the air in a room – is acceptable so long as it meets the other Etsy marketplace criteria.)

Human remains or body parts (excluding hair and teeth): This includes, but is not limited to, things such as skulls, bones, articulated skeletons, bodily fluids, preserved tissues or organs, and other similar products. (Note: Human hair and teeth are currently allowed, so long as the items comply with other Etsy marketplace rules.)

Hazardous materials (for example: flammable, explosive, corrosive, poisonous, etc.): A few notable items prohibited under this rule that might not be immediately apparent include, but are not limited to, mercury thermometers, loose matches (such as in a matchbox), sparklers and other fireworks, caps for toy guns, and lighter fluid (lighters are acceptable so long as they are empty and otherwise meet marketplace standards).

Motor vehicles (for example: automobiles, motorcycles, boats, travel trailers, etc.): We’ve clarified the examples here to include travel trailers and other vehicles that may not strictly be motorized. The sale of vehicles often requires transferring a title of ownership. At this time, Etsy’s platform is not equipped to handle such transactions. (Note: Bicycles are still allowed, so long as they comply with other marketplace criteria.)

Drugs, medical drug claims about an item, drug paraphernalia: We have clarified the previous language from “drug-like substances” to now be “medical drug claims about an item.” A medical drug claim makes a correlation between a product and the cure or relief of a health condition or illness. In many cases, an item itself is not problematic, but the way it is presented with certain language is against this policy. With this update, we’re also reinforcing our standards regarding drug paraphernalia. This includes, but is not limited to, items such as pipes with carburetors, water pipes, bubblers, oil domes, hash skillets, vaporizers, and ash catchers. (Note: Tobacco pipes that do not have carburetors are still allowed, as long as they otherwise meet Etsy’s marketplace criteria.)

As a general reminder, every Etsy seller is responsible for following the laws that apply to you, your shop and your items, including any applicable shipping restrictions. Even beyond the standards of Etsy’s policies, all Etsy members are responsible for making important moral or ethical decisions regarding what they buy and sell on Etsy.

In addition to this blog post, our Marketplace Integrity Team is reaching out by email directly to many shops affected by these policy changes. We’re taking care to help sellers understand the new rules and ensure their listings are in compliance. In some cases, listings may need to be removed. In other cases (such as the new rule about medical drug claims), it may be possible for a seller to edit the listing information and keep the item up for sale.

If you are a seller and believe one (or more) of your listings no longer qualifies under these new policies, please deactivate the listing. If you have questions about a specific item in your shop or that you might want to list on Etsy, please contact the Marketplace Integrity Team by using the Help page form or sending an email to

If you see a listing or shop on Etsy that doesn’t appear to follow the rules, please use the “Report this to Etsy” link on the listing or shop, and Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity Team will review it.