facebook-pixel Skip to main content

Shopify’s product restriction policies

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the world, celebrated for its user-friendly interface and robust selection of features. Like any platform, Shopify has certain operational standards and policies to ensure legal compliance, marketplace integrity, and the safety of its users. An important aspect of this involves managing the types of products users sell through the platform.

If you’re considering setting up shop on Shopify, it’s important to review Shopify’s comprehensive guidelines to ensure that your business and products align with the platform’s policies.

Of course, laws vary worldwide, so Shopify’s policies differ from country to country to reflect this. For example, some products not restricted in the UK may be restricted in other countries. So, if you plan on selling internationally, it’s important to be mindful of the laws and regulations in all countries you plan to sell to.

In this article, we’ll explore what industries and products are prohibited on Shopify and explore potential strategies for selling restricted and regulated items using Shopify or alternative eCommerce platforms.

Are there specific industries or products that Shopify prohibits on its platform?

There are two key documents you should refer to when checking Shopify restricted industries and products. These are Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy and the Shopify Payments terms and conditions for your country.

If your industry or products do not comply with the Shopify Acceptable Use Policy, you cannot sell them using Shopify. However, if they comply with this policy but violate Shopify Payment’s terms and conditions for your country, you may still be able to sell them, provided you integrate a third-party payment gateway instead of using Shopify Payments. 

Shopify Acceptable Use Policy

According to the Shopify Acceptable Use Policy, the following activities are prohibited in connection with your use of its services.

  • Child exploitation
  • Harassment and threats
  • Hateful content
  • Illegal activities
  • Infringement of intellectual property
  • Malicious and deceptive practices
  • Publicising personal, confidential, and protected health information
  • Promoting self-harm
  • Supporting terrorist organisations

Stop signThankfully, most reputable eCommerce stores naturally adhere to these standards!

Shopify Payments’ terms and conditions

Shopify Payments is Shopify’s own payment service and is the default payment gateway for Shopify stores.

According to Shopify Payments terms and conditions, the following types of businesses are prohibited from using the Shopify Payments service in the UK.

  • Financial and professional services – Including investment and credit services, money and legal services, and virtual currency.
  • IP infringement, regulated or illegal products and services – Including adult content and services, counterfeit or unauthorised goods, gambling, intellectual property or proprietary rights infringement, regulated or illegal products or services, and sanctions. Regulated or restricted items in the UK include alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, vaping products, dangerous chemicals, and weapons.
  • Products or services otherwise prohibited by law – Including aggregation, drug paraphernalia, high-risk businesses, multi-level marketing, pseudo pharmaceuticals, social media activity, substances designed to mimic illegal drugs, and video game or virtual world credits.
  • Unfair, predatory, or deceptive practices – Including get-rich-quick schemes, mug-shot publications or pay-to-remove sites, and no-value-added services.

Shopify’s policies demonstrate the platform’s commitment to ethical and legal eCommerce practices. It is in the merchant’s best interests to review both documents to ensure that the products they sell are permitted on Shopify.

Shopify and regulated products

If your business sells restricted or regulated products, you may still be able to sell them on Shopify, provided you don’t use Shopify Payments as your payment gateway.

Regulated and restricted items are prohibited from Shopify Payments, so you must use an alternative payment gateway instead.

It’s important to note that every payment provider has its own list of prohibited items, so you’ll need to check each provider’s terms carefully to find one whose policies align with your industry or products.

Can alcohol, tobacco, and vaping products be sold on Shopify in the UK?

Yes, these items are legal to buy and sell in the UK, so they are also ok to sell on Shopify. However, all age-restricted and regulated products are prohibited by Shopify Payments, so you will need to connect an alternative third-party payment provider to your Shopify store to sell these types of products.

How does Shopify enforce its restrictions on certain industries and products?

Shopify policy enforcement is carried out by its Risk Department, which protects Shopify from legal action and liability. This department actively monitors the platform and looks for stores selling prohibited items or offering services that breach its Acceptable Use Policy.

Shopify’s Risk Department investigates user complaints and uses various tools and techniques to review the content and activities on its platform to detect prohibited products. Once it has identified a violation, it investigates, notifies the store owner, and takes action against the store. The action depends on the nature and severity of the violation and could vary from requesting the removal of certain products to shutting down and removing the store without notice.

By ensuring merchants adhere to its Acceptable Use Policy, Shopify aims to create a safe, reliable, and legally compliant environment for buyers and sellers.

What are the consequences for businesses that violate Shopify’s policies?

Businesses that fail to adhere to the Shopify Acceptable Use Policy (UAP) risk significant repercussions. Let’s find out more about the consequences of policy violation. The policy states that: “We may, at any time and without notice, remove any Materials, and suspend or terminate your Account or your access to the Services if you engage in activities that violate this AUP, including activities outside of your use of the Services.”

Shopify takes decisive action against stores that breach its policies and guidelines. This means that your store could be shut down and removed without warning, and you could even be banned from the platform. This would not only significantly disrupt business operations but could also lead to loss of revenue and damaged brand reputation, making it imperative that you understand and adhere to Shopify’s policies to maintain a successful online presence.

Are there any alternative platforms for selling products prohibited by Shopify?

If your business sells products that fall out of the scope of Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy, or you’re interested in alternatives to Shopify for restricted businesses, there are plenty of other eCommerce platforms to choose from.

It’s important to note that all the big eCommerce platforms will have their own restrictions to ensure compliance with relevant laws and maintain marketplace integrity. However, you may find some are more easygoing than Shopify about what you can and cannot sell. 

Popular eCommerce platforms for regulated products include WooCommerce, WIX, Magento, and BigCommerce.

Before setting up shop, always carefully review the eCommerce platform and payment service providers’ policies regarding the sale of restricted or regulated items to ensure compliance and avoid problems later down the line. It’s also crucial to research how any relevant local, national, or international laws may affect your business.

Green traffic lightLaunch your Shopify store with Create8

Looking for a Shopify specialist to help you navigate Shopify’s policies and guidelines and launch a successful Shopify business? 

At Create8, we’re proud to be a Shopify agency and partner. Our experienced team of Shopify web designers and developers have a track record for delivering high-performance Shopify stores. We build stores that look the part, reflect your brand identity, and offer customers an unparalleled shopping experience.

Ready to find out more? Contact us to discuss your project and take the first step towards building your eCommerce empire!