How To Set Up An Etsy Return Policy (Tips For Sellers)

Updated Dec. 2022

If you sell on Etsy you have to set up your own return policies, and it’s important that you do it for each listing. It’s not difficult to do, but you do need to do this so that the customer can read about your shop’s procedures before they buy something.

Toward the end of 2022, Etsy standardized the return policies across the site, so there are some templated versions that are used for digital listings specifically. You can also choose to use Etsy’s standard policies, or tweak them a little for your own shop.

In addition, we can now set return policies for different items, so you don’t have to have one return policy for your entire shop.

How to set up an Etsy return policy: tips for sellers

Table of Contents

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.

What is an Etsy return policy?

A return policy on Etsy lets the customer know what the parameters are for how long they have to send something back to your shop in order to get a refund. By providing this information in your shop policies, customers will know what they need to do to return something, and what your rules are around shipping items back and issuing refunds.

It’s important to detail the things that you require as far as how soon you need to receive an order back if the customer wants a refund.

Without a return policy that’s clearly stated in your shop, you’ll basically have to let people return things without any guidelines. Having a return policy protects you and the customer so that everyone understands the limitations before the customer purchases something.

You should also check the laws regarding returns in your area, because some countries have strict laws about how long customers have to return things, and you’ll need to follow those consumer laws.

How to add and edit a return policy on Etsy.

To add a return policy on Etsy:

  1. Go to your shop dashboard and click Settings—>Policy Settings to go directly to the return policies editor.
  2. Alternatively, click the pencil icon at the top of the shop when you’re logged in, then scroll down to the bottom to the Shop Policies section and click the pencil icon that says “Edit Policies.” This will also take you to the policies page in your shop settings.
  3. Edit the template that opens up to include the basics of your shop’s return policy.
  4. After editing the policies template, click “save and apply” at the bottom to save your changes.
Edit button at the top of the shop
Edit shop button

Using the Etsy template for the return policy gives you a slight boost in your search ranking.

Etsy wants all shops to use their template so that customers have a consistent experience when shopping in different shops. You can choose some specific details, but Etsy has a limited range of choices.

To take care of this, you can add a FAQ section to your shop after filling out the Etsy template.

The Etsy return policy interface in the edit shop policies section.
The Etsy return policy interface in the edit shop policies section.

Adding a return policy to individual listings.

Each individual listing on Etsy can now have a separate return policy. This is handy if you sell some things that can’t be returned and some that can. The individual policies can be added to the listings when you set it up for the first time, or you can edit them in the listing manager afterward.

You should check to make sure that all of your listings have the correct return policy every now and then, because every now and then Etsy will mess something up and the policies will disappear from the shop, or things will have the wrong return policy attached to them.

You can check to see how many listings have which return policy in the listing editor by sorting for that on the right side on desktop.

You can also bulk edit the listings and change the return policy using the bulk editor on the listing editor page.

Click to see the video.

Add a FAQ section to add more policies.

After editing the policies, you can also add a FAQ section from the Shop Editor to put in more details of the return policy. This is helpful if you have other requirements for the customer if they decide to return something.

It’s also important to fill this out if there are exceptions to your return policy that aren’t covered in the template that Etsy provides.

Etsy FAQ section
FAQ section

What should I put in my Etsy return policy?

An Etsy return policy should clearly spell out how long the customer has to contact you if there’s a problem with the order and they want to return it. It should also include details about what conditions have to be met for you to accept a return, and what amount will be refunded when the item is received.

As I mentioned above, your return policy needs to comply with your local laws, so if your country has consumer protection laws that let people return something for a specific amount of time, you can’t put a different timeline in.

Make sure that your policies don’t contradict the law in your area!

Other things that you need to include in your Etsy return polices can include:

  • Who pays for the return shipping (see more on that below.)
  • How quickly the items need to be shipped back to you, and whether a return will be accepted if the customer doesn’t send the item back within those time limits.
  • Whether the return shipment needs to be sent with tracking or not, and whether it needs to be sent in the original packaging.
  • What condition the item needs to be in when you receive it back in order for the return to be issued (unopened, unbroken, unused, in resellable condition, etc.)
  • How much the customer will be refunded in the case of damage or repairs being needed on the items when they come back to you.
  • If the item shipped free originally, whether the customer will receive all of the original payment or whether the cost of the original shipping label will be subtracted out and not refunded.
  • What things can’t be sent back for returns if that’s not spelled out (or even if it is) in the Etsy template for returns.

It can feel really picky and specific to spell out all of these details, but you should write the return policy in the strictest way that you can so that there are no questions,

You can always make exceptions for people on a case-by-case basis, but having a strict policy will make it easier to handle difficult situations that are going to come up.

Keep in mind that if a customer opens a case Etsy may or may not stand behind your return policy, depending on the situation. But if you don’t have a policy at all, you’ll have no recourse.

Who pays for return shipping on Etsy?

Etsy’s standard policy says that the customer pays for return shipping, so in general, the customer should pay for the return shipping if there’s nothing wrong with the item and they just changed their mind about buying it. If there’s something wrong with the item or if there’s something else that was your fault, you should pay for the return shipping.

You might want to pay for the return shipping yourself, but it’s up to you unless there are laws about the seller having to pay to have the item returned.

You’ll definitely get pushback from people if you tell them that they need to pay for the return shipping, so you’ll need to make sure that it’s clearly spelled out in your policies.

People have been trained to expect online purchases to be returnable for any reason and at no cost to them, but you’re not obligated to pay for shipping if there’s no reason for the return other than buyer’s remorse.

Just be sure to have all of this in your shop policies so that you’re covered!

For an article with more information about customers paying for the return shipping cost, click here.

Should I include an exchange policy for my Etsy shop?

Having an exchange policy is another good idea so that customers will have an idea about the limits of what your shop offers. This is another way to clarify expectations so that customers don’t think that they can return things to exchange them with no limits.

If you do accept exchanges, you’ll have to be very clear on the boundaries of what can be exchanged.

Most customers are perfectly reasonable, but every now and then you’ll get somebody who will try to take advantage of your policies, and this is another example of why having policies in place is important.

An exchange policy can be detailed in the FAQ section too, and you should be specific about how quickly you need the item to be returned, what condition it should be in, and whether you’ll send a replacement before or after the original item is sent back to you.

The template for the Etsy exchange policy only says that they are or aren’t accepted, but the FAQ section is a good place to write out more details for the customer.

Remember to make your policies as strict as they can be, then make exceptions if you need to. It’s better to have a thorough policy and FAQ section so that you have something to refer to if you need it. Etsy may or may not side with you in the case of a dispute, but having a solid framework of policies can help your case.

Kara Buntin

Kara Buntin has run a profitable home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 51,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO. She founded the Artisan Shopping Directory website to promote the artisans who are members of her EShop Success marketing program.

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