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
Why do I need to specify the location of the item in my listing?
Buyers like to know where the item is being shipped from as it helps to give them an idea of how much shipping will cost and how long it might take for the item to arrive. Having an inaccurate item location can cause confusion and lead to a poor experience for your buyer.
What should I include in my terms and conditions?
Be very clear and thorough about the terms of the transaction and include information about the forms of payment you accept, any taxes or other applicable fees, shipping and handling, and your return policy. Being upfront and honest about these terms helps build trust and provides a positive buying experience for your customers.
Do I have to accept returns?
You don't have to accept returns, but we highly recommend you do – it might help you attract more buyers. If you do accept returns, make sure you specify the time period in which you accept returns, who pays for the return postage, and how the refund is issued.
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?
Make sure you follow these guidelines. If you don't, you may be subject to a range of actions. We may limit, restrict, or suspend you from buying, selling, or using site features. All of your listings may be removed, displayed lower or not shown in search results, without refunding any or all applicable fees. You may also forfeit special account status and any discounts. You may be subject to the application of fees and recovery of our expenses in policy monitoring and enforcement.
Buyers expect their items to be delivered on time, especially when they pay additional fees for expedited shipping services. Using a slower shipping service than the one selected by the buyer during checkout may result in the item being delivered later than expected, and an increase in claims for items not received.
What to do
- Offer shipping service options in your listings only after reviewing their costs and delivery speeds
- Ship items using shipping service options with features that meet or exceed those the buyer selected
What not to do
- Use shipping service options with features that do not meet those selected by the buyer. For example, using "USPS Ground" with a maximum delivery estimate of 7 days when the buyer selected "USPS Priority Mail" with a delivery estimate of 3 days.
Shipping and handling costs
Be sure to specify shipping costs and related service charges in your listings.
What to 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.
- 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.
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.
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
- 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
Providing tracking details for items you've sold is an industry standard and something that your buyers expect. Tracking data lets buyers know where their item is throughout the shipping process, and can be critical in cases where the buyer claims they didn't receive an item. Learn more about uploading tracking information.
What to do
- Upload accurate tracking details
- Upload tracking details within your specified handling time
- Mark the item as 'Shipped' in My eBay or Seller Hub once it has been sent
What not to do
- Upload information other than valid tracking in the tracking field, including tracking not associated with the transaction
- Upload tracking information later than the handling time window promised in your listing
Item location misrepresentation
When a buyer purchases an item, they expect it to be shipped from the item location included in the listing. Including false, inaccurate, vague, or misleading item location information may lead to confusion around delivery time and shipping costs.
What to do
- Include accurate item location descriptions. The city and state, or city and country should match appropriately. For example:
- Hong Kong, China
- Sydney, Australia
- Omaha, Nebraska, United States
What not to do
- Provide incorrect or inaccurate item location
- State 'U.S.' when the item is actually being shipped from China
- Include inaccurate, vague, or misleading item location descriptions, such as:
- Beijing, United Kingdom
- Hong Kong, United Kingdom
- Worldwide, Singapore
- Direct from manufacturer to, United States
- Somewhere in Florida, United States
- Include item location information in the item description that doesn't match the information in the item location field
- Include inconsistent information in your return policy around the item location which may result in higher return costs or confusion for buyers
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.
Occasionally, you may need to cancel a transaction because the item is broken, you made a mistake in your listing, or the item is out of stock. In these cases, you must first contact the buyer and let them know that you are canceling the transaction and the reason why. Make sure you use the correct process in My eBay or Seller Hub to cancel these transactions. Learn more about Canceling a transaction.
What to do
- Inform the buyer that you are canceling the transaction with the reason
- Cancel the transaction up to 30 days after the sale
- Use the correct process in My eBay or Seller Hub to cancel the transaction:
- Go to My eBay > Sold and locate the item. From the More actions drop-down menu, select Cancel this order. Or;
- Go to Seller Hub and locate the item. From the Actions drop-down menu, select End
- Choose a reason for the cancellation and follow the on-screen instructions
What not to do
- Not informing the buyer that you are canceling the transaction
- Canceling the transaction more than 30 days after the sale
- Not using the correct process in My eBay or Seller Hub to cancel the transaction
- 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 aren't required to accept returns, but if you do, you must honor your stated returns policy.
When you choose to 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 your stated return requirements, you are required to honor the return.
What to do
- If you don't want to accept returns, make sure that both the International and Domestic returns check boxes are unselected
- If you accept returns, you must clearly state the criteria under which you will accept a return. This may include (but isn't limited to):
- The time period in which a buyer must notify you about a return
- Who pays for return shipping
- How the refund is issued (money back, replacement, or exchange)
Remember, buyers who purchase from you are entering in to a contract with you based on the details you included in your listing, including what you stated in your returns policy. Therefore, you may not add to or alter your returns criteria once an item has been purchased.
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 they didn't receive an item or the item doesn't match the listing description. Learn more about Seller performance standards.
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.