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Knowing the rules for sellers

Knowing the rules and policies on eBay can help you become a more successful seller. So before listing your item, make sure you read, understand, and regularly check our policies (including the rules for sellers and the eBay User Agreement) and all applicable laws and regulations on the sale of your item. This can help you avoid potential problems.

eBay policies are intended to:

  • Support laws and regulations

  • Minimize risks to sellers

  • Provide equal opportunity to all sellers

  • Protect intellectual property rights

  • Provide a more enjoyable buying and selling experience

  • Support the values of the eBay community

Make sure your listing follows our guidelines. If it doesn't, it may be removed, and your buying and selling privileges could be restricted.

Prohibited and restricted items

Our policies are often based on country and state laws, although in some cases, they may also be based on input from our customers and our own discretion, especially for dangerous or sensitive items.

eBay policies cover three main areas – prohibited, restricted, and potentially infringing items (see also our overview of prohibited and restricted items):

  • Prohibited items are not allowed to be sold on eBay, often because they're illegal or involve strict federal or state regulations. Examples include:

  • Restricted items can generally be sold on eBay but only under certain conditions that sellers are required to meet. Examples of items include:

  • Potentially infringing items may be in violation of certain copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights. So some items are not allowed (even though they may be legal) because they often violate copyright or trademark laws. This also applies to certain types of information that appear in listings. Here are some examples:

To avoid creating listings that infringe upon intellectual property rights, read how eBay protects intellectual property. You can also take our intellectual property tutorial.

And remember: Offering a prohibited, restricted, or potentially infringing item for free (rather than for sale) won't protect you from potential liability. This policy applies to both sellers and buyers.

Listing practices

For a satisfying and fun experience on eBay, we're helping sellers list their items in the most effective ways possible. As general rules, sellers have to:

  • Select a category that matches the item for sale.

  • Provide a clear, honest, and accurate description about the item.

  • Avoid tactics like keyword spamming because they make it hard for people to find what they're looking for.

However, it's against our policies to do anything that manipulates the search or browse experience on eBay. This applies to all parts of a listing, including the title, subtitle, product details, description, pictures, links, and meta tags. If you use tactics that can inappropriately divert bidders and buyers to a listing, we will take action.

Before listing items, be sure to read our search and browse manipulation policy to learn more about our guidelines on:

  • Brand names

  • Categories

  • Item details

  • Keyword spamming

  • Pictures

  • Text and other information

  • Titles

Other rules include not using profanity in a listing or other community pages on eBay, HTML and JavaScript functions, or links outside of eBay. Be sure to read our rules for listings for information on how to list and describe certain items.

It's also important to stay in good standing with eBay fee payments. Sometimes sellers try to find ways to get around paying fees or they do it by mistake. Be sure to read our policy about avoiding eBay fees.

You should also read the following policies:

Completing the sale

If your item sells, contact your buyer, accept their payment, and ship the item.

Examples of actions that are not allowed on eBay:

  • Bidding on your own item or having family members, roommates, or employees bid on your item (this is called shill bidding). Read about our shill bidding policy.

  • Interfering with another member's transaction. For information and examples, see our transaction interference policy.

  • Accepting payment and sending an item that is significantly different from the item described in the item listing. For more details, read our seller performance policy.

  • Refusing to accept a buyer's PayPal payment using a credit card when you included the PayPal logo in the listing. For more info, see the PayPal payments policy.

  • Charging buyers an additional fee for their use of ordinary forms of payment including acceptance of checks, money orders, electronic transfers or credit cards. For policy and examples, read our payment surcharges policy.

When something goes wrong, there are options available to you (find out more about resolving selling problems).

Be sure to also read the following policies:

Reporting policy violations

If you see a listing that violates eBay policies, please report it by clicking the Report item link in the listing, or by clicking the Report or Contact Us link located on most of our help pages.

When a policy violation occurs, we email the seller and the buyer to let them know that the listing has been removed from eBay.

Your participation and vigilance as part of the eBay community is invaluable in helping us help you be a more successful seller.

Contact Customer Service

If you have an additional question about this subject, email us at Customer Support.
If you would like to ask a question on another subject, please use the Contact Us page.

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