An Amazon HazMat review might be the most frightening notice that an Amazon FBA Seller could receive–aside from the one that terminates their association with Amazon itself.
FBA Seller forums are overflowed with comments from frustrated merchants who are confused about how the Hazmat review process works.
But don’t worry!
You came to the right place, and we’ll give you all the information you need to take the necessary precautions to avoid unpleasant surprises.
What is an Amazon HazMat Review?
HazMat is short for hazardous materials.
Amazon itself defines these dangerous goods as:
“…substances or materials that may pose a risk to health, safety, property, or the environment while storing, handling or transporting because they contain flammable, pressurized, corrosive, or otherwise harmful substances.”
Source: Seller Central
These are the goods that may be harmless on a store shelf or a kitchen cabinet, but could become hazardous when subjected to the constant motion and fluctuations in temperature and/or pressure that typically happen during conveyance, storage, handling, and labeling process at FBA centers.
Amazon points out that it is important to identify which products are possibly hazardous so that they would not be putting their “employees, carriers, and customers to potential health and safety risks.”
FBA New Listings and Questions You’ll Have to Answer
Amazon is very strict when it comes to safety.
Therefore, regardless of whether you believe your product is harmless or that it doesn’t contain any toxic materials, you’ll be required to answer two sets of questions concerning the following:
- batteries, and
- dangerous goods regulations
If your battery product utilizes lithium batteries, then it is a dangerous good and you will be required to provide additional information such as “What is the watt-hour (Wh) rating per battery?” This information is generally printed on the battery itself, on its packaging, or in the manufacturers’ technical documentation.
Here are some questions you will come across:
- Is the product a battery or does it utilize batteries? How many?
- What type are they? If you do not know the type of battery your product is using, select “Unknown”.
- How much do they weigh?
- How many batteries does your product need?
- Are they needed for the product to function?
- Will the batteries be sold separately? Is it a removable battery?
- What is the composition of the batteries?
Also, you’ll be required to specify the number of cells, including spares.
Note: A “cell” is considered a single electrical storage unit with one positive and one negative end, whereas a “battery” is 2 or more cells connected together to form a single component. For example, a TV remote will commonly use 2 AA cells installed in the back compartment. Additionally, a single laptop battery may be composed of 6 cells enclosed within the plastic casing of the battery. Cell count information for multi-cells batteries can often be found on the packaging of the battery or in the manufacturers’ technical information.
Dangerous Good Regulations Questionnaire
During the creation or the conversion of an FBA listing, Amazon will ask you to provide information based on the following criteria:
- Is your product considered a ‘dangerous good’ or hazardous material regulated for transportation, storage, and/or waste?
- What is the *UN number of your product?
- How much does your product weigh (kg)?
- What is the volume of your product (ml)?
- Does your product fall into GHS/CLP standards?
- Did you ask your manufacturer to provide you with a Safety Data Sheet?
(you may upload an exemption sheet if your product doesn’t meet the criteria to be considered as a ‘dangerous good’)
*Label Master defines UN#’s as:
“The most basic component of this identification system is the four-digit United Nations or UN number (UN#). The UN number system is administered by the United Nations under its Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (The “Orange Book” or UNMR) and is accepted generally worldwide via its incorporation in the Dangerous Goods Lists (DGL’s) …they are assigned to both generic chemical categories, like “Flammable Liquids N.O.S.”
Dangerous Goods Allowed for Sale Through FBA
When you hear the term “dangerous goods” you may think that these could contain highly corrosive or toxic ingredients; which is true! But also, these could be products that we use on a daily basis such as laptops, phones – or any device that requires batteries – household cleaners, all kinds of aerosols, or cosmetics.
Basically, any product that contains harmful chemicals falls into the ‘hazardous materials’ category.
As an FBA seller, it is your responsibility to make sure that the products that you are sending to Amazon warehouses comply with all the legal requirements and that you are providing accurate and detailed information about your product, even if your product is not considered or regulated as “dangerous goods”.
Currently, dangerous goods are divided into nine categories (with several subdivisions).
These classes are allowed for sale through FBA:
Dangerous Goods Prohibited for Sale Through FBA
The following classes of materials are prohibited by FBA:
What’s All the Fuss About?
All these precautionary measures were brought about by a 2014 incident where the FAA slapped a $350,000 fine on Amazon due to the injuries UPS personnel sustained in handling a leaking package from Amazon.
In an earlier incident, Amazon was also fined for shipping corrosive rust remover and a flammable gas without the proper labeling or accompanying documents.
In December 2018, another unfortunate incident occurred in one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Robbinsville, New Jersey when a can of bear repellent fell off a shelf when one of Amazon’s robots accidentally hit one of the metal structures, injuring workers. Similar incidents occurred in 2015 and 2019. This caused Amazon to consider bear spray a more toxic substance than before, and of course, this substance cannot be handled by Amazon’s robots anymore.
Increase in HazMat Fees
On account of the seriousness of the matter, Amazon decided to increase the fee for ‘dangerous goods’ like aerosol cans and lithium-ion batteries.
According to Business Insider, a normal item with a shipping weight of between 10 and 16 ounces, considered small, would qualify for a fee of $2.48, while a “dangerous” item the same size would carry a charge of $3.45.
Amazon HazMat Review Hazardous Goods
Amazon also has to take steps to protect their connections with other institutions like the insurance that covers their warehouses, the safety of personnel from the diverse carrier services they engage to deliver their products, as well as government regulations.
As a result, Amazon has now reserved the right to subject any product to Amazon HazMat Review, even at the slightest suspicion that it might contain the slightest hint of hazardous materials. Amazon has been continuously updating its HazMat specifications and checking all sellers’ listings to ensure compliance.
The constant checking and aggressive policies are the reason why products that may have passed inspection in the past are now identified for HazMat review.
How Is the Amazon HazMat Review Affecting FBA Sellers?
If you are going to introduce a new product for sale or are converting products from FBM to FBA, the product spontaneously undergoes a HazMat review.
Amazon HazMat Review toxic Amazon requires the completion of an online form inquiring whether the product is a ‘Dangerous Good’.
Even if a seller responds with a “No” on both questions, the Amazon HazMat Review process can be initiated and will last at least 3 business days.
If your product is under Amazon HazMat Review and you don’t follow up with support, it could take weeks before your product is released for selling on the marketplace.
If Amazon does not hold the product for review, it retains the right to remove the listing at any time in the future.
The Amazon HazMat Review process becomes more confusing and uncertain if the product in question is an existing item being sold on Amazon and has been recently identified as Hazmat.
This usually happens because Amazon conducts random reviews on their large database of listings and identifies or marks products according to its HazMat specifications. As a result, you may have your previously approved product flagged, restricted and unavailable for sale at any time.
Amazon HazMat Review validation encompasses a wide array of goods that might be sold as either a private label product or FBA item on Amazon. The full list of products can be found here: Examples of Amazon products that may be regulated as dangerous goods.
When a Product is Under Review
If you are given a notice that your product is under HazMat review, do not panic.
This simply means that Amazon doesn’t have enough facts about your product to properly classify it. Generally, they just need more details. Amazon will contact you via email and case within Seller Central.
To prepare yourself for incidents like this, you need to be fully aware and knowledgeable of the following Amazon resources so that you will be able to reason with Amazon and be able to persuade them that your product is not hazardous:
1. Go over Amazon’s Hazardous Materials Identification Guide and the Restricted list.
2. Prior to ordering products, look into any FDA Recalls and Alerts.
3. If you are purchasing merchandise from a source aside from the manufacturer, you need to obtain a sample in order to review its ingredients and materials first hand. Remember that your product will most probably be accepted through human inspection upon being received at a fulfillment center.
4. Read USPS’s restricted items. According to USPS, “Many common household and consumer products cannot be mailed through the US Postal Service. These materials may not be dangerous on your shelf at home, but they may become a hazard when shaken or when exposed to temperature or pressure changes. Additional rules and restrictions apply for items being mailed internationally.”
5. Familiarize yourself with Amazon’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Amazon may request that you get product information from the manufacturer (and if you have completed #3 above, then you will already have it on hand).
You will have up to 14 business days (weekends not included) to provide the requested documentation by Amazon.
Please note that if you don’t provide Amazon with the documentation during this timeframe, your inventory will be discharged at your expense.
The HazMat Status Change
Your Seller Account includes a HazMat Status Change Report that you can check for automatic notifications that will appear when products are added to your shipping plan. Also, you will be notified via email regarding any merchandise already in fulfillment centers that are tagged as potentially hazardous. If the time frame stated in the email has already passed, you should contact Seller Support to let them know you have yet to receive a response.
If you take your status as an Amazon seller seriously, the best thing to do when confronted with an Amazon HazMat Review is to prepare for the worst. Most products held for review do pass once the required information is submitted, but know that any product containing dangerous materials can be rejected by Amazon at any time.
We know that receiving an Amazon HazMat review can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. However, knowing why the HazMat policy is in place is at least some consolation. After all, the Amazon HazMat Review process exists to ensure the safety of employees handling these dangerous products.