What You Can't Sell on Etsy - dummies

By Kate Gatski, Kate Shoup

Etsy is a forum for handmade items, vintage goods, and supplies. You may assume, then, that as long as your item fits into one of those categories, it’s acceptable for sale on Etsy. But you know what happens when you assume! So, here is a list of what you can’t sell on Etsy.

What items are prohibited

Any number of items may meet the aforementioned criteria but aren’t permitted on Etsy. One obvious example is items that are illegal; every Etsy seller is responsible for following all local laws. Other prohibited items include the following:

  • Alcohol

  • Drugs, druglike substances, and drug paraphernalia

  • Firearms and weapons

  • Hazardous materials (materials that are flammable, explosive, corrosive, poisonous, and so on)

  • Live animals and illegal animal products

  • Human remains or body parts (excluding hair and teeth)

  • Motor vehicles (automobiles, motorcycles, boats, and so on)

  • Pornography

  • Real estate

  • Recalled items

  • Tobacco and other smokeable products

In addition, Etsy prohibits the sale of items that

  • Promote hatred toward people or demean them based on race or ethnicity, gender or gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation

  • Promote or glorify illegal activity

  • Promote or glorify harmful acts

Which services can you sell?

In general, you can’t sell your services on Etsy. The site is designed as a marketplace for goods. So, even if you’re the best dog-walking, house-sitting masseuse this side of the Mississippi, you can’t advertise your business on Etsy. You’re not even allowed to avail yourself to members seeking your skills in the realm of tailoring, restoring antiques, retouching old photos, and the like.

If, however, your service results in a new, tangible item, you may offer it for sale on the site. For example, you may sell your services as a graphic designer, offering custom logos for clients, delivered via a digital file. Or maybe you give workshops; as long as participants leave your class with an actual physical object — an instructional booklet, a finished project, or what have you — it counts.