October 19, 2020

Hazmat Review: What FBA Sellers Should Know

If you sell on Amazon FBA, then sooner or later you will likely be subject to a hazmat review. This is where Amazon will "inspect" your products to ensure that they do not pose a risk to health safety, or breach title 49fdr, which applies to hazardous material. On this page, we are going to take a little look at what it means when people talk about the FBA dangerous goods hazmat program.

What is a hazmat product review?

Amazon has received several major fines in the past for allowing hazardous products to be shipped out. A lot of these products have been from FBA customers. As a result, Amazon has implemented a procedure where they review products to ensure that they are not constructed from restricted hazardous materials.

Essentially, the hazmat product review is in place to ensure that Amazon is only shipping out safe items and, if they have to ship hazardous products, it follows very, very specific rules. Amazon is covering their own back here. That way they are less likely to have to deal with major fines.

How products get restricted by Amazon for being hazardous?

Right off the bat, if anything is banned by federal regulators for being hazardous, then you will not be allowed to sell through Amazon. The company is far too cautious for this. They have become even more cautious in recent years, particularly since a Wall Street Journal expose showed that Amazon had let thousands of hazardous products slip through the cracks.

Amazon maintains a list of products that they deem to be hazardous on their website. This should always be the first place that you check.

If you are in the United States, then head on over to the UPS website. Anything that they restrict from their packages tends to be restricted on Amazon too. After all, they are going to be the main carrier for many of Amazon products. There is even a short little quiz on their website that will allow you to determine whether a product is hazardous or not. If you give the UPS hazmat quiz answers here properly, then UPS will tell you whether your product can be sold via Amazon.

If you are looking at hazmat on Amazon UK, then head to the Royal Mail website. Anything they restrict will likely also be restricted on Amazon.

When does an Amazon dangerous product review take place?

Amazon will normally carry out a review on anything that flags as hazmat based on their restricted list. If a product has been classed as hazmat in the past, then it is likely that any similar products added to Amazon will be flagged too. Basically, if Amazon suspects could be harmful to property or environment, then it will be flagged for review.

That being said, Amazon can also flag random products for review. Even if something really doesn't have the potential to be classed as dangerous goods, it may still be flagged for review and the seller will need to go through this process. If you are selling a lot of products on Amazon, then eventually you will likely be subject to a review, even if your products would never in a million years be declared unsafe by federal agencies.

You may find that if you are submitting a new product to Amazon, they will not allow you to ship it to them before they have carried out a proper review of the product.

What happens when your product is under dangerous goods hazmat review?

When a product is under dangerous goods hazmat review, it cannot be purchased from Amazon. Until the Amazon hazmat review has been completed, you will not be able to make any sales. As a result, it is important that you try and clear this safety standards review as quickly as possible.

In most cases, the review will take 3 business days to be completed. It is very, very rare that it will be quicker than this. Amazon is going through thousands of products to see which ones may pose a risk to their delivery drivers or staff members.

If your product has been selected randomly for a hazmat FBA check, then it is likely Amazon will clear the product after 3-days and your customers will be able to buy it again. However, if they believe there to be substances or materials that may be dangerous, then you will be required to submit a material safety data sheet. It is important that this is submitted as soon as possible to ensure that Amazon can complete their checks.

What are the potential outcomes of an investigation?

The ideal outcome to this type of investigation would be that your products are not regarded as unsafe. Your listing will then be unrestricted and you can sell as normal. However, not all products that go through the review process will be this lucky.

If your product is deemed to be hazardous, then there will be two outcomes:

  • Amazon will require you to take part in their FBA Dangerous Goods Hazmat Program. This will allow you to sell hazardous goods through Amazon, but there will be extra costs and restrictions.
  • Amazon will tell you that the product cannot be sold on their platform and that it needs to be returned. This will be at your own cost. You must instigate the return within 5 business days or Amazon will destroy your stock.

You will be able to appeal any decision made by Amazon, but do bear in mind that they are pretty complete with their investigations, and thus your appeal may not stand a big chance of being successful.

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