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Decoding Amazon’s Return Policies: Complete Seller Guide

return policy amazon
April 4, 2024 19 mins to read

If you are a seller, then Amazon return policies are something you should pay keen attention to.

They keep updating their guidelines and hence, it is important to be aware of what’s happening around on the Amazon Marketplace in order to provide a consistent experience for your buyers. 

Undeniably, “Returns” are a part of the selling game and hold true even for the world’s most lucrative and biggest marketplaces like Amazon.

When it comes to “Amazon Returns,” the blame happens to fall on you probably because you might have shipped the wrong product, color, size, or SKU.

Also, Amazon Returns could also stem from:

  • Stock unavailability
  • Buyer fails to receive the order because of delivery issues 

However, in most cases, they aren’t your fault. But here’s the bitter truth: Amazon still requires sellers to accept the returns – even if it’s the buyer’s fault.

Let’s understand in detail the new Amazon Return Policies for both individual sellers and FBA sellers, how to process the return request, what are the charges for returns, the reasons, and much more.

Quick Guide:

  1. Amazon Return Policy
  2. Amazon Return Process
  3. Amazon Refunds: How Are They Issued?
  4. How To Process A Return Request?
  5. Amazon Return Process: Individual Seller (or non-FBA)
  6. Amazon Return Process: FBA Seller
  7. What To Do Before Issuing A Refund?
  8. How To Protect From Amazon Return Scammers?
  9. How To Refund Tax?
  10. Amazon Seller Return Policy: Restocking Fee
  11. How To Process Gift Returns?
  12. Conclusion

Amazon Return Policy

Items that are shipped from, even including Amazon Warehouses, can be returned within 30 days in most cases. However, a few items have distinctive requirements or policies associated with them.

Amazon Return Process

If you are a professional seller, Amazon authorizes the returns automatically, given that they fall within their return policy.

Amazon will only send a return request to you if it happens to be outside the policy or may be, exempt from a prepaid return.

In order to process a return request, here’s what you have to do:

  • Go to the page Manage Returns where you can analyze, authorize, and decline the request.
  • You can even access the Manage Returns page by clicking on the drop-down menu called Orders.

Once you approve the return request from a buyer, Amazon sends a return label to the buyer with an address.

Note: By default, a return label isn’t prepaid.

But you can upload any custom prepaid return label, given that you pay for the return shipping.

Amazon Refunds: How Are They Issued?

When a buyer returns your product, the refund that he/she receives depends on three factors:

  • Condition in which the item is delivered back
  • How long has the customer had the product with him or her?
  • How was the item purchased?

When returning a product, a buyer can choose his or her preferred refund method by navigating to the Online Returns Center page.

If the buyer chooses to receive a refund after the item has been shipped to the seller, it might take an extra 3-5 business days to process the return followed by the issue of refund.

Payment Method
Refund Time (as soon as the refund has been processed)
Refund Method
Credit card
3 to 5 business days
Credit card
Credit card
ImmediateGift card
Debit card
Max. 10 business days
Debit card
Checking account
Max. 10 business days
Checking account
Amazon gift card
ImmediateGift card balance
Promotional certificate
Not applicable
No issue of refund
Amazon gift card & credit card
Reference the above fields for time details
Gift Card Balance or perhaps, both
Prepaid credit card
Duration depends on the issuer, which could take a maximum of 30 days
Prepaid credit card
Reward points
Max. 5 business days
Reward point balance

Note: If Amazon refunds the buyer on a prepaid card and he/she no longer holds the physical card, it is still stored within his/her account. This can be used for future purchases on the same account.

However, if the order was placed via Amazon Currency converter, then note that the refund will be issued through local currency and calculated with the same rate which was there when the customer placed the order.

How To Process A Return Request?

As a seller, you can take different actions on a return request with the help of Manage Returns, which include:

  • Authorize the request
  • Close the request
  • Issue a refund
  • Contact the buyer

1. Authorize the request

An individual seller who opts for a manual authorization and a professional seller who receives an out-of-policy request has an option to review a request manually. In order to do this, follow the steps listed below:

Step 1: Log in to your seller central account and select Orders > Manage returns.

Step 2: For authorizing a single-return request, choose the request that you wish to review.

Step 3: Upon doing step #2, you will be prompted to use the RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) number, which is generated by Amazon or you will have to enter a custom RMA number. A buyer will see this RMA number on his or her return authorization slip, just under the return label.

Note that you will have an option to use an unpaid return label (generated by Amazon), or upload your own prepaid return label. If the label is Amazon-generated, your return address will be generated automatically on the label.

However, to modify your address, follow this:

  • Go to Account Info and choose Return Address.

If the return is under manual authorization, you will be asked to select a return address. You can either use one of your saved addresses for returns or add a new address.

Step 4: To authorize various return requests simultaneously, choose the request that you would want to review. Next, from the page – Manage Returns – select Authorize all selected returns that you see in the dropdown menu.

In order to receive a return request email with a valid link to close, reply, or authorize, you can easily configure by choosing Settings > Return Settings and then, selecting the associated checkbox.

An individual seller & professional seller who receives an out-of-policy request also has the choice to authorize the return request automatically. In such a circumstance, Amazon issues the buyer with an unpaid label.

A professional seller with SKUs exempted from the prepaid program has the choice to either authorize the return request automatically or perform a manual review.

2. Close the request

You can close a return request right away if you:

  • Plan to provide a refund without asking for the item’s return
  • Decide not to accept the return (for instance, if the return request is outside the Amazon policies)

Choose an appropriate reason to close the return request and give explanations to the customer. Once the return request is closed, Amazon sends the customer the message you have sent along with a closure reason.

On the other hand, a buyer can also close a return request. In that case, you (seller) will get an email notifying you about it.

3. Issue a refund

A refund can be issued:

  • After the item has been returned
  • If you are letting the buyer keep your product

However, if you want your product back from the buyer, Amazon encourages you to wait until you get it and then, issue a refund.

Once you get your product back, Amazon expects you to process the refund within 48 hours. But if you don’t process the refund within this duration, Amazon has the liberty to refund the specific amount to the buyer and charge the same from your seller account.

Hence, to prevent a negative experience from the buyer, monitor your refund actively and make sure that the customer receives it on time.

4. Contact the buyer

You can email the buyer anytime and discuss the issue. Rather than managing the return and issuing a refund, it is always a good idea to resolve the issue.

Amazon Return Process: Individual Seller (or non-FBA)

If a buyer places an order from a seller who fulfills as well as ships from his/her own inventory (otherwise known as an individual or third-party seller), the return will be sent to the respective seller rather than

Though most individual sellers offer their return policies much similar to’s, a few policies might vary. Hence, a buyer should always check for the individual seller’s return policies before making a purchase.

A third-party seller should provide any of these three:

  • A valid return address within the U.S.
  • A proper pre-paid return label
  • A full refund without requesting for the product to be returned

If an individual seller fails to offer any of these three methods, the buyer has complete freedom to file an A-Z Guarantee Claim in order to seek assistance with your return.

If a buyer sends the item (worth $100 or more) within the U.S., it is important that he/she ensures the consignment and further, ship it with the signature of the shipping service.

On the other hand, an item that is work $35 or more should be returned to the seller along with a trackable link from the shipping service. For items that are below $35, Amazon suggests buyers use the USPS delivery service.

How to respond to an A-Z Guarantee Claim once it is notified to you?

If Amazon determines that if it requires further details while investigating a claim, it emails you, which you should respond to within 3 calendar days.

But if you fail to respond to this claim notification within 3 calendar days, it grants the claim in the customer’s favor and debits the claim amount from your account.

To respond to the claim notification, here’s what you have to do:

  • Step 1: Go to the menu – Performance – and choose A-Z Guarantee Claims.
  • Step 2: on the tab named Action Required, search for the appropriate claim and click Respond to Amazon.
  • Step 3: In the given text box, drop your comments and include proper details that could help amazon be aware of the whole claim situation.
  • Step 4: Once you complete the steps given above, click on the submit button.

Amazon encourages you to check your emails often and respond to take proper action against claims if required. Remember that this also plays a key role in your Amazon ODR (Order Defect Rate).

Amazon Return Process: FBA Seller

An FBA seller must act immediately once a return request is placed to his/her account. If Amazon regards the items returned to be “unfulfillable,” it could cost you extra money.

Note down these 3 possibilities:

Possibility 1:

If the item was sold via, and Amazon determines that the item returned is still under sellable condition, then it will be placed back to the inventory automatically and will be designated as “Fulfillable” once again.

FBA further credits your account with a part of the referral fee, and if applicable, it also pays the Variable Closing Fees associated with the item.

Possibility 2:

If Amazon determines that the item to be in damaged & non-sellable condition, and it takes complete responsibility for the damage, then the item will not be added back to your inventory.

In this case, amazon credits your selling account with:

Item’s selling price + Part of the referral fees + Applicable taxes

Besides this, it also credits the Variable Closing Fees if applicable.

Possibility 3:

If Amazon determines that the item is in damaged & non-sellable condition, and it doesn’t take responsibility, then the item will be added to your inventory but will be designated as “Unfulfillable.”

In this case, amazon credits your selling account with:

All or a part of the referral fee + Variable closing fee (if applicable)

In order to have the item returned to you, you can create a removal order.

Check detailed guide: How to remove inventory from Amazon?

FBA Removal Order Fee

A removal fee is charged for every item that is being removed. Usually, a removal order is fulfilled within 14 business days. However, in certain cases, it might take up to 30 days, especially during holiday seasons.

ServiceItem is over-sized
Item size is standard

FBA Returns Processing Fee

Here is the table explaining the fulfillment fee for every unit. It includes order packing, pick-up, customer service, shipping, and product returns.

Items that are of Standard Size
Small (10 oz. or lesser)
Small (10+ - 16 oz.)
Large (10 oz. or lesser)
Large (10+ - 16 oz.)
Large (1-2 lb.)
Large (2-3 lb.)
Large (3-21 lb.)
$5.26 + additional $0.38 per lb. after initial 3 lb.
Items that are over-sized
Small and yet over-size (about 71 lb. or lesser)
$8.26 + extra $0.38 for every lb after the first 2 lb.
Medium and yet over-size (about 151 lb. or lesser)
$9.79 + extra $0.39 for every lb after the first 2 lb.
Large and yet over-size (about 151 lb. or lesser)
$75.78 + extra $0.79 for every lb after the first 90 lb.
Oversized (special)
$137.32 + extra $0.91for every lb after the first 90 lb.

What Does To Do Before Issuing A Refund?

When a buyer requests a refund, there are three things Amazon advises you to do prior to processing the refund:

  • Once you authorize the return request, wait until you receive the shipment from the buyer before issuing a refund. You can even let the buyer keep or discard the product even if you issue a refund. However, this is your choice.
  • If the buyer gives you the product damaged, or perhaps, in a condition, which is different from what you sent initially, you have the choice to process a “partial refund.” Now, if you choose to go with a partial refund, it is important to inform about the same to the buyer in prior to avoid further misunderstandings.
  • If you have listed and described about the item correctly, and yet the buyer just doesn’t want it anymore, you can choose to refund the actual price and not the Amazon shipping cost. This is an advantage for sellers.

How To Protect From Amazon Return Scammers?

In order to defend yourself from buyers with bad or shady intentions, a few sellers take videos or photos of themselves, especially while expensive products before shipping. This serves as evidence to prove that they shipped the product properly if a buyer claims that he/she hasn’t received the order.

Of course, these safeguards take some more time than your existing heavy workload. However, these protections can help you save money as well as keep your name intact even if a buyer tries to scam you.

Learn more about Amazon scams here.

Besides these, here are some more safety measures to take in order to avoid further run-ins with scammers:

  • Make sure that you get your signature on all the packages that you send
  • Get insurance on packages that contain expensive items
  • Use a tracked delivery system

Amazon also advises every third-party seller to keep the following things in mind to protect themselves from shady buyers.

1. Answer customers’ emails

Though Amazon stresses the buyer to work and solve the issues with the buyer, there are times when a few claims happen to be against top-performing sellers. This mainly has to do with sellers failing to reply to the customers’ messages in a given timeframe. Hence, as a seller, make sure that you respond to your customers on time.

Check out this guide to know how to use Amazon phishing emails.

2. Proactive refunding

A seller can avoid the claim if he or she investigates the return promptly with the buyer. If the reason is found to be appropriate, the refund can be avoided. Whenever an issue is handled this way, a buyer is less likely to file a claim against you.

3. Conscientious shipping

Trackable shipment methods, signature-required approach, and careful packaging can do a great deed in preventing claims for non-receipt and damaged items. The need to provide a valid tracking number for 95% of the shipments within the United States and shipping only to addresses that Amazon provides will help in limiting your liability.

4. Accurate product images and descriptions

Giving correct images and descriptions of a product eliminates misunderstandings and unwanted issues of what a buyer is literally expecting to get. Make sure that all your offers match with the right ASINs. It is not appropriate to list the product against some other edition and explain it within the product description. If a product listing is published incorrectly, the seller will be completely responsible for the claim.

Eliminates misunderstandings and unwanted issues of what a buyer is literally expecting to get. Make sure that all your offers match with the right ASINs. It is not appropriate to list the product against some other edition and explain it within the product description. If a product listing is published incorrectly, the seller will be completely responsible for the claim.

5. Keep the buyers informed

Even though Amazon handles order & shipping notifications, it is still important to work with the buyers directly to resolve their issues and questions about the product.

6. Cancel any out-of-stock order promptly

If an item goes out of stock, it is your responsibility as a seller to e-mail it to the buyer so that they don’t expect a package. Also, cancel the order if you haven’t done so.

Dealing with an Amazon Return becomes easier if you take the precautions mentioned above seriously, especially before shipping.

How To Refund Tax?

There might be times when you just want to refund the tax amount to the buyer. In such cases, it is first important to check if he or she qualifies for tax-exempt status. If yes, then the buyer can ask for a tax refund.

A buyer requests the tax refunds directly from the seller (which is you). To process the tax refund, here’s what you have to do:

  • Go to Manage Orders and look for the order you want to issue the tax refund to.
  • On the Order Details page, click the option Refund Order.
  • On the top side of the Refund order page, select Refund tax only.
  • Choose Order from an unincorporated area or Tax exempt buyer.
  • If you choose Order from an unincorporated area, you will have to select the jurisdiction, which you will refund.
  • If you choose Tax exempt buyer, you will have to select an exemption reason.
  • Click on the Submit refund button.

For some reason, if you are not able to refund the tax, check if the order was done through FBA or dispatched to a place where Amazon manages tax collection, tax calculation, refunds, and remittance.

To confirm the Fulfillment method & Tax Collection Obligation, note down these steps and follow them:

  • From the Manage Orders page, check your Fulfillment method. It should either be “Merchant” or “Amazon.”
  • On the Manage Orders page, see if there’s a note beside the tax saying that the “tax is managed by Merchant” or “tax is managed by Amazon.” For more details on Marketplace Tax Collection, click this page.
  • If the fulfillment method says “Amazon” or the text says that the “tax is managed by Amazon,” you can directly ask the buyer to contact Amazon Customer Support.
  • If the fulfillment method says “Merchant” and the text says that the “tax is managed by Merchant,” you will be responsible to issue the refund.

Note: For additional queries, you can always write to the Amazon support team at

Amazon Seller Return Policy: Restocking Fee

If a customer returns
He/she receives
The item in its original condition but goes beyond the return window*
80% of the item price
DVDs, CDs, cassette tapes, vinyl records, or VHS tapes, which were opened (from its original plastic wrap)
50% of the item price
The item, which have missing parts, are damaged, not in proper condition, or have signs of use
Maximum 50% of the item price
Video games or open software
0% of the item price

*Note that for most products, the return window is only 30 days from the delivery date. To check for an item’s return window, a buyer can navigate to his/her Orders page and select Return/Replace Items.

If the item has been fulfilled by a third-party seller, the buyer can be charged a maximum restocking fee of 20%, even if the product was returned to the seller in its original condition within the 30-day duration.

Tax on restocking fee might apply to returning items, which were shipped as well as sold by for all the customers residing in MD, CT, PA, NV, WV, WI, and VA.

A seller can choose to charge the customer with a restocking fee only if the following reasons apply:

  • The customer finds the same item but on a different website.
  • The customer decides to change his/her mind (also known as Buyer’s Remorse).
  • The customer returns the product considerably different, impaired, or damaged from what was originally sent.

Recommended Guide: Everything you need to know about Amazon’s Tax Exemption Program.

How To Process Gift Returns?

A gift recipient (one who received the gift) can return the product given to him/her by another buyer even if the order was not marked as a gift at the time of purchase.

Note: A “gift return” appears on the Manage Returns page. You can process it along with other returns.

The current gift recipient will submit the return via Return a Gift from the Returns Center page on the recipient’s account.

To process the gift return, here’s what you can do:

1. Communicate with the receiver who received the gift

To respect the customer’s privacy who purchased the gift, Amazon recommends communicating only with the receiver who received the gift. In order to communicate with the receiver, do this:

  • Go to Manage Returns page.
  • Click on the button called Contact Gift Recipient button.

Note: A Gift Return can be identified by a Gift badge ( 🎁).

2. Communicate with the BUYER who bought the gift

For some reason, if you think you will have to contact the buyer who actually bought the gift, do this:

  • Navigate to the Manage Orders page.
  • Click on the buyer’s name beside the Contact Buyer.
  • Upon doing the above step, the Customer’s E-mail History of both the buyer and the gift recipient shows up for the corresponding order.

3. Refund the gift return

In order to refund the gift recipient, navigate to the Manage Returns page and click on the button called Issue Refund.

Upon doing the above step, the refund amount will be e-mailed to the recipient as an e-gift card or electronic gift card.

However, if you want to refund the BUYER who purchased the item, navigate to the Manage Orders page and click on the link named Refund Order. But make sure that you are refunding it to the right person.

Potentially Hazardous Returns:

A few returns are recognized by Amazon to be contained with “potentially hazardous” materials. Such items come with a warning denoting that they might be potentially harmful or hazardous. These types of returns will need manual authorization from the seller before a buyer can complete his/her return and send the item back. While processing a hazardous return, make sure that you receive the item at your return’s facility, and talk with the customer to make sure he/she has appropriate shipping as well as hazmat labels prior to sending the item to you.


Hope the article on return policies for sellers has been helpful in guiding you with the right information. Note that the information given here is sourced from the official Seller Central help pages. Please keep an eye on any kind of policy change because Amazon modifies them regularly.

Additional Resources:

Holiday Fulfillment

How to Set Up EDI with Amazon Vendor Central

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6 Comments on “Decoding Amazon’s Return Policies: Complete Seller Guide”

  1. fb88vn
    March 28, 2021

    Thanks again for sharing a wonderful post. Really looking forward to read more.

    1. Arishekar N
      August 2, 2021

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
      Appreciate it.

  2. Ramona
    October 10, 2022

    Excellent breakdown of Amazon’s return policy. As a seller, it’s crucial to understand the ins and outs of the policy to ensure smooth returns. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Arishekar N
      January 17, 2023

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Your comment is much appreciated.

  3. Hazel
    October 10, 2022

    I found this post on Amazon’s return policy for sellers to be very informative. As a seller, it’s important to stay on top of these policies and make sure we’re in compliance.

    1. Arishekar N
      January 17, 2023

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

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