Our House Rules

Get to know Etsy's legal terms and policies

Our House Rules

Prohibited Items Policy

Etsy is not a curated marketplace. However, for a variety of reasons, we prohibit certain types of items from Etsy. Some items present legal risks to our community; others are inconsistent with our values, are harmful to our members, or simply are not in the spirit of Etsy. This policy explains what is prohibited or restricted on Etsy.

This policy is a part of our Terms of Use. By opening an Etsy shop, you’re agreeing to this policy and our Terms of Use.

The following types of items are prohibited or restricted on Etsy:

  1. Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs, Drug Paraphernalia, and Medical Drugs
  2. Animal Products and Human Remains
  3. Dangerous Items: Hazardous Materials, Recalled Items, and Weapons
  4. Hate Items: Items that Promote, Support, or Glorify Hatred
  5. Illegal Items, Items Promoting Illegal Activity, and Highly Regulated Items
  6. Internationally Regulated Items
  7. Pornography and Mature Content
  8. Violent Items: Items that Promote, Support, or Glorify Violence

Policy decisions are complex. We consider many different and often divergent factors before coming to a decision about what is best for our community. Because we are a creative community, we err on the side of freedom of expression. We also tend to allow items that have educational, historical or artistic value, but we know that even those items are subject to a variety of valid and sometimes conflicting interpretations and emotional responses.

Art and history can be provocative, emotional and divisive. There are some topics on which we may never reach a consensus as a community, and that is okay. In the words of Joyce Carol Oates, 'art should not be comforting; for comfort, we have mass entertainment and one another. Art should provoke, disturb, arouse our emotions, expand our sympathies in directions we may not anticipate and may not even wish.'

In order to help provide clarity and insight into our policy making process, we have included the rationale behind our decisions and details about how they will be enforced, including some representative examples below of what is allowed on Etsy. We reserve the right to remove listings that we determine are not within the spirit of Etsy. Violating this policy may result in the member's selling privileges being suspended and/or terminated.

1. Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs, Drug Paraphernalia, and Medical Drugs

Alcohol and drugs are prohibited on Etsy. These substances face serious legal restrictions and in many cases are considered controlled substances under applicable law. Our policy also applies to other substances that have or are claimed to have an intoxicating or healing effect. Possible legal restrictions aside, these substances are not in the spirit of Etsy.

More Details:

The following are examples of items that may not be sold on Etsy:

  1. Alcohol.
  2. Tobacco products, smokeable products, e-cigarettes and e-liquid.
  3. Drugs and certain herbal substances, including substances used for recreational and medicinal purposes, regardless of their legality.
  4. Drug paraphernalia, including, for example: items with a carburetor; slides and/or items with a slide; bongs and bubblers; vaporisers and their components.
  5. Medical drugs, regulated medical devices, and pharmaceuticals.

Restrictions on descriptions of purported health benefits:

A medical drug claim is statement or suggestion that an item prevents, heals, or treats a medical condition or disease. Medical drug claims are subject to varying degrees of regulation. If you make claims about the purported health benefits of an item for sale on Etsy, we urge you to speak with a qualified expert about which regulations apply to you. It is your responsibility to know and comply with all laws and regulations that apply to the items you sell.

Etsy prohibits certain medical drug claims based on our values, such as claims likely to deceive or pose an unreasonable risk to our community. Etsy may remove claims that we deem to be inappropriate, excessive, or otherwise unsuitable for our marketplace. We also remove content that promotes prohibited medical claims, such as anti-vaccine items. If Etsy receives proper notice from a legal authority, we may remove an item. You can find more information on prohibited medical drug claims here.

Examples of What is Allowed:

Beer brewing kits

Beer brewing kits

Baked goods containing alcohol

Rum cake
Example: Mini Baba au Rum Cake

Hookahs

Vintage hookah
Example: Vintage Hookah

Tobacco pipes

Tobacco pipe

Empty alcohol bottles and items made from them

Wine bottle tray
Example: Wine Bottle Serving Tray

Resources: Small Business Assistance from the Food & Drug Administration; US FDA and FTC for information about medical drug claims; US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

2. Animal Products and Human Remains

Certain animal products are highly regulated and prohibited on Etsy due to the risk of harm to live, companion, or endangered animals.

More Details:

The following are examples of animal products that may not be sold on Etsy:

  1. Live animals.
  2. Items created using any endangered or threatened animal species. We define these as animal species designated as threatened or endangered by the US Endangered Species Act or listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Click here for more details about which animals we prohibit.
  3. Items made from cat and dog parts or pelts as defined by US Federal Law.
  4. Ivory or bones from ivory-producing animals, including tusks, elk ivory, fossilized ivory and wooly mammoth ivory.
  5. Items made from human remains or products from the human body, except for teeth, fingernails, and hair.

Examples of What is Allowed:

Non-Ivory Animal Bones and Antlers

Snake bone necklace
Example: Snake Bone Necklace

Leather Goods

Leather bag
Example: Leather Bag

Textiles Made from Animal Hair

Authentic mohair scarf
Example: Authentic Mohair Scarf

Human Teeth or Hair

Mini bottle with human hair
Example: Mini Bottle with Human Hair

Resources: Endangered Species Act; Prohibition on Importation of Dog and Cat Fur Products

We expect all of our members to follow their local laws. If you are delivering items across international borders you should also consult CITES for specific information about importing and exporting species that may be threatened. If you sell products containing feathers, you should also consult the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

3. Dangerous Items: Hazardous Materials, Recalled Items and Weapons

For safety and legal reasons, we prohibit certain dangerous items from our marketplace.

More details:

Hazardous Materials

Due to the potential harm caused by hazardous materials, as well as complex legal and delivery regulations surrounding such materials, hazardous materials are prohibited on Etsy.

While not exhaustive, the following materials are examples of prohibited hazardous materials:

  1. Explosives (fireworks or sparklers)
  2. Flammable items
  3. Gases
  4. Radioactive material
  5. Toxic substances (such as poisons)

Recalled Items or Items that Present Unreasonable Risk of Harm

Items that have been recalled by governments or manufacturers are prohibited from being sold on Etsy. A few examples of items that have been recalled are certain vintage Corning Ware percolators, lawn darts and drop side cribs.

Items that present an unreasonable risk of harm are prohibited, even if they have not been the subject of a recall. This would include, for example, items that present a choking hazard. We generally rely on information from various government agencies to identify these items.

Weapons

Context matters when it comes to defining what is or is not a weapon. When in doubt, it’s safe to assume that we won’t allow any item intended to be used as a weapon to inflict harm. The following items are generally not allowed on Etsy:

  1. Guns, knives, or other blatant weapons, even if they are vintage. See here for more information.
  2. Imitation firearms and weapons that look real or are prohibited by US law

Examples of What is Allowed:

Culinary knives or other knives used as tools

Vintage culinary knife
Example: Vintage Kitchen Knives - Collectibles

Letter openers

Letter opener

Toy slingshots

Toy slingshot

Airsoft guns and other non-harmful toy guns (with some restrictions)

Vintage ray gun toy
Example: Vintage Ray Gun - Toy

Resources: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; FMCSA’s Guide to Complying with Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations; US Federal Government's Guide to Recalled Items; US Code of Federal Regulations on Imitation Firearms; US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA); Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Product Safety; ACCC Product Bans; European Commission's Consumer Product Safety; US Consumer Product Safety Commission's Resellers Guide to Selling Safer Products; Health Canada Consumer Product Safety

4. Hate Items: Items that Promote, Support or Glorify Hatred

We want Etsy to be a community where people of all backgrounds, nationalities, religions, political affiliations and even different types of artistic taste and humour feel welcome. Art is incredibly subjective, and what is offensive to one is not necessarily offensive to others.

More Details:

Etsy does not allow items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred towards people or otherwise demean people based upon: race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation (collectively, “protected groups”). We also prohibit items or content that promote organisations or people with such views.

The following items are not allowed on Etsy:

  1. Items that support or commemorate current or historical hate groups, including propaganda or collectibles. Examples of hate groups include Nazi or Neo-Nazi groups, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups, white supremacist groups, misogynist groups, or groups that advocate anti-gay, anti-immigrant, or Holocaust denial agendas.
  2. Items that contain racial slurs or derogatory terms in reference to protected groups.

Examples of What is Allowed:

We tend to allow items that have educational, historical or artistic value, but we know that even those items are subject to a variety of valid and sometimes conflicting interpretations. Recognising that there may be no consensus on their educational, historical or artistic value, the following items are generally allowed on Etsy:

Religious symbols, including swastikas when used in peaceful or religious context (often in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism)

Vintage Buddhist swastika pendant
Example: Vintage Buddhist Swastika Pendant

Items that use idiomatic expressions that include the word “nazi,” such as “grammar nazi” or “soup nazi”

Grammar
Example: Grammar “Nazi” Print

Items denouncing or mocking groups or historical figures that have a history of organised, targeted violence against protected groups

Photo of anti-Nazi graffiti
Example: Photograph of Anti Nazi Graffiti

Resources: Federal Bureau of Investigation’s webpage on Hate Crimes; Southern Poverty Law Center

5. Illegal Items, Items Promoting Illegal Activity and Highly Regulated Items

We respect the law and expect Etsy sellers to respect the law as well.

More Details:

Illegal items and items that promote illegal activity, including counterfeit or stolen items, are generally not allowed on Etsy. Neither are certain items that are subject to complex legal regulations or registration systems. Because Etsy is a global company, it’s important to abide by the laws of the markets in which you are selling. What is legal in one country may be illegal in another. All forms of illegal activity are strictly prohibited. Listings may not facilitate or promote illegal acts.

Additionally, due to complex legal restrictions that vary by location, Etsy does not permit the sale of real estate, housing, or motor vehicles (for example: automobiles, motorcycles, boats, travel trailers, etc.).

We require sellers to follow all applicable laws for the items they list. Examples of items which may be subject to regulation include Native American crafts, plants and seeds, and food products.

6. Internationally Regulated Items

Etsy provides a direct connection between buyers and sellers around the world. If you buy or sell an item from another country, or if you enter into a transaction with someone across international borders, you are responsible for complying with laws and regulations of the country of destination as well as your local laws.

More Details:

When buying and selling internationally, you should comply with your local laws and be aware that other countries may have their own restrictions. You might be prohibited from exporting or importing certain items under international laws and regulations. Some transactions may require licenses, permits, or other documentation. If you have questions about how to comply with the law, we recommend that you speak to a qualified professional.

When you use Etsy’s services, you are also responsible for complying with economic sanctions and trade restrictions, including those implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the US Department of the Treasury. All Etsy members must comply with our Sanctions Policy, regardless of their location.

Etsy reserves the right to request that sellers provide additional information, disclose an item's country of origin in a listing, or take other steps to meet compliance obligations.

You should be aware that third-party payment processors, such as PayPal, may independently monitor transactions for sanctions compliance and may block some transactions as part of their own compliance programmes. Etsy has no authority or control over the independent decision-making of these providers.

Examples of What is Allowed:

Sanctions or compliance programmes may have certain exceptions to their restrictions. For example, while OFAC broadly prohibits transactions involving goods that originate from sanctioned areas, there are exceptions for informational materials such as publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, tapes, compact disks, and certain artworks. Items that don’t originate from a sanctioned area but make a reference to a sanctioned area are generally permitted.

Items that aren’t from Cuba, but are Cuban style, such as “Cuban Style Fedora Hats”

Cuban style fedora hat
Example: Cuban Style Fedora Hat

Informational materials such as art, books, film, photos or music

Vintage biography of Fidel Castro
Example: Vintage Biography of Fidel Castro

Resources: US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sanctions

7. Pornography and Mature Content

As a creative community, we tend to be fairly liberal about what we allow on Etsy, but we draw the line at pornography. Beyond that, we restrict mature content so that people who are offended by this kind of material don't have to see it. If you are selling mature content, we ask that you be respectful of differing sensibilities.

More Details:

Pornography of any sort is prohibited on Etsy, whereas mature content is restricted.

Although pornography can be difficult to define, an item generally qualifies as pornography when it contains extreme or explicit version of sexual content.

We define mature content as depictions of human genitalia, sexual activity or content, profane language, sexual wellness items, violent images (within reason; see also Violent Items), and explicit types or representations of taxidermy. Click here to read more about how to properly list and tag mature content. Not all nudity is considered mature, and examples are listed below. If you find yourself questioning whether your item is mature, then it is likely a good idea to assume that it is mature content, and you should label it as such.

When deciding whether mature content crosses over the threshold into pornography, we take into consideration the explicitness of depictions of sexual activity or content.

Examples of What is Allowed Without Restriction:

Non-pornographic nude photography and depictions of breasts

Authentic tribal photograph
Example: Authentic Tribal Photograph

Non-pornographic depictions of buttocks

Fine art photograph of a nude man
Example: Fine Art Photograph of Nude Man

Abstracted or cartoonish depictions, within reason

Cartoon men and women nude print
Example: Cartoon Men and Women Nude Print

Resources: How to List Your Mature Products ; Listing Mature Content Correctly

8. Violent Items: Items that Promote, Support or Glorify Violence

We want Etsy to be a safe place for everyone. While violent content can be a legitimate part of historical, educational or artistic expression, it should never be used to promote or glorify violent acts against others.

More Details:

We do not allow items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others, including credible threats of harm.

The following items are not allowed on Etsy:

  1. Items that glorify human suffering or tragedies, including items that commemorate or honor serial killers
  2. Items that attempt to exploit natural disasters or human tragedies
  3. Items that encourage, glorify, or celebrate acts of violence against individuals or groups
  4. Items that encourage self-mutilation, starvation or other self-harm

Examples of What is Allowed:

Fictional literary or art work (such as zombies, vampires or other fictional works that tend to contain violence)

Real Looking Zombie Photo
Example: Real Looking Zombie Photo

Items that have educational, historical or artistic value

Real Photograph of a Protest in Ukraine
Example: Real Photograph of a Protest in Ukraine

Items that show support or bring awareness to those at risk of self-harm, including those with eating disorders

Suicide Awareness Poster
Example: Suicide Awareness Poster

BDSM items (See Pornography and Mature Content for additional information)

BDSM Ball Gag & Whip
Example: BDSM Ball Gag & Whip

We hope these guidelines are helpful, but we cannot catalog every permitted or prohibited item. If you see something on Etsy that appears to violate these rules, you can report it to us. At the bottom of a listing page, you can click Report this item to Etsy. To report copyright or intellectual property infringement, please follow the instructions in Etsy's Intellectual Property Policy.

For all other reports, or for any questions, please contact Etsy Support.

Reading Materials

In crafting these policies, we found a number of thoughtful essays and articles. Here are a few that we found illuminating:

Sexism, Racism and Other -isms in Library Materials (1973),
http://ethics.iit.edu/ecodes/node/3748

'It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society each individual is free to determine for himself what he wishes to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive .... We realize that application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.'

How the world loved the swastika - until Hitler stole it, BBC News Magazine, 22nd October 2014
https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29644591

The Native American Mascot: Tribute or Stereotype? Psychology Today, 21st May 2012 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-small-talk/201205/the-native-american-mascot-tribute-or-stereotype

Keeping Kids From Toy Guns: How One Mother Changed Her Mind, The Atlantic, 9th August 2013
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/08/keeping-kids-from-toy-guns-how-one-mother-changed-her-mind/278518/

Toy Guns: Do They Lead to Real-Life Violence? WebMd, 1st December 2011
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/toy-guns-do-they-lead-real-life-violence

Art And Violence, The Huffington Post, 18th September 2014
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-buruma/art-and-violence_b_5837648.html

When the master of peace did violence, The Guardian, 25th October 2003
http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2003/oct/25/1

Last updated on 08 Mar, 2019