Our full selling practice guidelines below provide a range of tips for helping ensure you keep your buyers happy. They cover areas such as the item description, your terms and conditions, shipping and handling charges, delivery times, communication, returns, and photos.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to include in my item listing?
In each listing, you need to include information about the item – including its condition – as well as the payment methods you accept, shipping methods and costs, handling time, and your return policy. You're required to meet any expectations you set in your listing, such as not charging shipping costs if you state you offer free shipping.
Do I have to accept returns?
You don't have to accept returns, but we highly recommend you do – it may help you attract more buyers. Even if you don't accept returns, you're required to specify your return policy in your listings.
If you do accept returns, make sure to specify the conditions required – for example, by stating clearly in your listing that you only accept returns if the item is unused, unopened or in original packaging. You'll also need to specify the time period of when you’ll accept returns, who pays for the return postage, how the refund is issued, and whether you charge a restocking fee.
Read our full policy
Selling practices policy overview
Setting clear buyer expectations and then meeting or exceeding them is a great way to make your buyer happy and ensure a smooth transaction.
Some of the simplest things you can do are to provide accurate and consistent details about your items and to be clear and specific about the terms and conditions of the sale. You should also make every effort to provide excellent customer service from start to finish, including:
- Charging reasonable shipping and handling costs
- Specifying your handling time and return policy in your listing
- Responding to buyers' questions promptly
- Being professional throughout the transaction
- Making sure the item is delivered to the buyer as described in your listing
- Frequently reviewing and updating listings to make sure all information – such as inventory status and item condition – is accurate and up to date
To help you meet our seller performance standards, we have some basic requirements all sellers must meet. We also have tips on how you can meet – and exceed – buyers' expectations.
What are the guidelines?
Be sure to follow the guidelines in this policy. If you don't, your listings may be removed and you may be subject to a range of other actions, including restrictions of your buying and selling privileges and suspension of your account. Keep in mind that you could also lose your PowerSeller or Top Rated Seller status.
The listing page is where buyers get most of their information about an item. Information in the listing helps buyers decide what to buy and know what to expect when they receive the item. It's important to make sure that the listing is only used to describe the item for sale and to communicate the terms of the sale in a professional way.
You're required to:
- Specify the condition of the item
- Describe any defects or flaws in the item – this helps avoid problems or buyer dissatisfaction
Note: When selling a used, refurbished, or flawed item, you must include photos of the actual item for sale instead of a stock photo.
Terms and conditions
It's important that you clearly specify the terms and conditions of the sale in your listing so that buyers know what to expect.
What to do
You're required to include the following details in your listing:
- Forms of payment you accept
- Return policy
- Restocking fee, if applicable
- Shipping method, costs, and other information
- Taxes and any applicable government imposed fees (such as electronic waste disposal fees)
- Terms of the transaction
You're required to meet the expectations you've set in your listing:
- Ensure the safe delivery of the item within the timeframe stated in your listing
- Comply with the Presale listings policy where applicable
- Items you list must be in your inventory or you must have an existing agreement with a third party to fulfill the delivery of the item under the terms of your listing
Shipping and handling costs
Be sure to specify shipping costs and related service charges in your listings.
What you can charge
- Actual shipping cost: This is the amount for shipping the item. It should be what you paid the carrier.
- Handling cost: This can include the cost of packaging materials and insurance cost, if any.
- Delivery confirmation and extra services: If you choose to use these options, you must add them to your shipping and handling costs, and you can only charge what they actually cost. Examples of services include:
- Certificate of Mailing
- Certified Mail
- Collect on Delivery
- Delivery Confirmation - free with Priority Mail and discounted with some other services when you print shipping labels on eBay
- Registered Mail
- Restricted Delivery
- Return Receipt
- Signature Confirmation
- Special Handling
- Tax and government-imposed fees: Only applicable federal, state, country, city, Value Added Tax (VAT), or equivalent taxes may be charged. Tips:
- If your shipping and handling costs are higher than average, consider explaining in your listing what the shipping and handling costs include.
- We recommend that you provide tracking information. Using tracking information, delivery confirmation, or signature confirmation can help protect you if a buyer reports that they didn't receive an item. This is one of the qualifications for getting an automatic 5-star rating for shipping time.
Categories with maximum shipping costs
We set maximum shipping costs in some categories. You can only charge more than the maximum shipping cost if you use calculated shipping and enter an item's actual size and weight with the packing materials.
When using calculated shipping, make sure the calculated cost isn't higher than the actual shipping cost. If so, it's considered excessive shipping, which isn't allowed on eBay.Free shipping
You can offer free shipping to select or all destinations.
For a destination with free shipping, no other fees related to shipping, handling, or packaging can be charged. You're not allowed to use a shipping method that is slower than the slowest one indicated in the listing.
If you offer free shipping in your listing – and we can confirm the buyer didn't pay for shipping – you will automatically receive a 5-star rating on your shipping and handling charges detailed seller rating.
Shipping and handling time
Buyers want to know when they can expect to get their items.
What to do
- Specify in your listing clearly and accurately when the item will be shipped.
- Ship items within the handling time you state in your listing.
- Use tracking, delivery confirmation, or signature confirmation. Using delivery confirmation can help protect you if a buyer claims an item wasn't received.
- Note: We require signature confirmation for transactions of $750 or more. Having signature confirmation can help protect you if a buyer reports that they didn't receive an item. Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.
- You're required to select the shipping option that best matches the shipping service that you offer in the listing. This helps set buyer expectations about when the item will be delivered.
What not to do
- If PayPal doesn't make your funds available immediately from payments for an item you sold, you're not allowed to hold shipment until the funds are released.
- Note: Holding shipment may affect your seller performance standing or defect rate and buyer satisfaction, which increases the chances of future PayPal payments being held.
Listing formats without handling time
- Classified Ads
- Real Estate Ad format
Categories that don't require handling time
- All Motor Vehicle categories
- Real Estate
- Specialty Services
Special consideration for specific categories
In certain categories we may require tracking information, specific handling times, or both. This is to enhance the buying experience and to meet industry standards for some items.
You'll automatically receive a 5-star shipping time detailed seller rating if:
- You specify either same business day or 1 business day handling.
- You upload US Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx supported tracking information by the end of the next business day (Pacific Time) after the buyer's payment clears. For same business day handling, upload tracking within 1 business day. A business day is a normal weekday. Saturdays, Sundays, and major holidays aren't business days.
- Tracking data must show the package as having a status of "delivered" with a delivery date within 4 days of payment clear.
Note: In some instances, there may be a delay in processing your shipping details, and buyers may be able to leave you a detailed seller rating for shipping time. If you've met the automatic 5-star shipping time requirements, your rating will be adjusted to 5 stars.
What to do
- Upload tracking within your handling time.
What not to do
- Upload anything other than tracking in the tracking field, including tracking not associated with the transaction.
Occasionally, you may need to cancel a transaction, for instance, if the item is broken or you are out of stock.
What to do
- Select the correct reason for canceling a transaction.
What not to do
- Select the wrong cancelation reason in order to avoid a defect on your account.
Do whatever you can to provide excellent customer service. Meeting or exceeding buyers' expectations can help you improve your performance on eBay.
What to do
- Respond promptly to any questions during the bidding or buying process, as well as after the item has been purchased
- Communicate professionally, including emails
- Be responsive to any buyer concerns or problems
What not to do
- You're not allowed to use profane or offensive language with anyone on eBay
- You're not allowed to send anyone on eBay inappropriate images including nudity, profanity or other general content not related to an eBay listing
Most often, transactions without additional communication are a sign of great service, and you shouldn't receive low detailed seller ratings for communication in these situations.
To give you credit for transactions where a buyer doesn't need to contact you, you'll automatically receive a 5-star communication detailed seller rating if:
- You specify either same business day or one business day handling and upload tracking information within one business day
- There are no buyer- or seller-initiated communications in eBay Messages
- There are no requests for contact information between you and the buyer
- There are no refund requests or PayPal Purchase Protection cases open for the transaction, and the buyer hasn't reported that the item wasn't received.
Note: Best Offers, Second Chance Offers, invoices and invoice requests – even if they contain messages added by the buyer or seller – don't affect automatic 5-star detailed seller ratings for communication. You'll still qualify for an automatic 5-star communication detailed seller rating if you or your buyers send these types of communications.
If eBay shortens the delivery estimate shown to your buyer, we automatically remove any defects related to shipping speed when you upload tracking within your stated handling time and your item arrives on or before the last day of the standard delivery timeframe (your stated handling time plus the carrier's published timeframe).
Communication between a buyer and seller isn't undesirable. If you exchange messages – and the buyer is satisfied with your response – the buyer may give you five stars for communication based on their interaction with you.
You're required to specify your return policy in your listings, even if you don't accept returns.
If you accept returns, a buyer can return an item for any reason, including if they change their mind about a purchase – as long as the return meets the return requirements – for example, returning an item within your stated time frame, and meeting item condition requirements.
We encourage you to accept returns – it helps increase buyer satisfaction.
What to do
Specify if items can be returned. If you accept returns, you must specify:
- The time period in which a buyer must notify you about a return
- The restocking fee, if any
- Who pays for return shipping
- If there are item conditions required for return, and clearly state those conditions
- How the refund is issued (money back, replacement or exchange)
Even if you specify that you don't accept returns, a buyer may be able to open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case for eligible items if the buyer didn't receive an item or the item doesn't match the listing description. Learn more about Seller performance standards.
About restocking fees
If you charge a restocking fee for returns, we recommend that you only ask for a reasonable amount.
You shouldn't charge restocking fees for items returned due to damage, defects, or not-as-described in the listing.
Along with the description, photos are the most important part of a listing. Photos help buyers to see exactly what they're getting as well as specific details they may be looking for. When selling used items, photos are especially important because they let the buyer see the actual condition of the item along with other details like color.
Pricing promotions terms and conditions
When you place an item on sale and indicate an original price, you are required to follow rules concerning the original price and tools that you use to create a sale or promotion. Learn more about the pricing and promotions terms and conditions - opens in new window or tab.
To maintain a competitive marketplace, eBay requires that you price your items independently from other sellers. You may take into account the pricing of other sellers that you observe on the eBay site, but you may not contact another seller to coordinate pricing in any way.
Other rules for sellers
You're responsible for reviewing and understanding our rules for sellers, as well as all relevant laws and regulations in your User Agreement. Knowing our policies before you list an item can lead to smoother, more successful transactions, and it can help you avoid breaking rules by mistake.