It happens to everyone at some point…You’ll receive an email from Etsy saying that they deactivated your listings, and it may or may not explain the reason why it happened.
Let’s go through this, because it’s important to know why a listing is deactivated and change the things that triggered the takedown so that you might be able to get the listing relisted!
Table of Contents
- Why does my listing say “deactivated by Etsy” on it?
- How do I find out if Etsy deactivated a listing?
- Where do deactivated listings show up on Etsy?
- Why you shouldn’t ignore a deactivated listing.
- Some reasons why Etsy would deactivate a listing.
- Your listing made medical claims, or you’re selling medications or regulated materials like alcohol or drugs.
- You’re selling hate items and illegal items.
- Someone filed a copyright claim (DMCA) against your listing.
- You’re selling things that have a brand name on them.
- You’re selling things that are “inappropriate content.”
- You’re reselling items that aren’t handmade.
- You were selling dangerous things.
- You’re selling things from specific countries.
- Payment account problems.
- Your shop is new.
- A bot made a mistake.
- What to do if Etsy deactivates your listing.
- How to avoid having your listings deactivated
- Don’t do it again!
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Why does my listing say “deactivated by Etsy” on it?
I just had ten listings deactivated because Etsy was doing a sweep for listings that made medical claims.
Because some of my cupcake topper listings had the term “FDA-approved food coloring” in the descriptions, they were caught in the medical claims net, and Etsy unlisted them.
Apparently, it’s the phrase “FDA approved” that triggered it because they recently updated their medical policy and now that’s included as a phrase that you should avoid using.
Even though I wasn’t intending to make a medical claim about cupcake toppers, Etsy will send bots out to look for certain terms in your titles, tags, and descriptions, and if they find them, your listing will be deactivated.
When Etsy deactivates a listing it’s not necessarily a permanent thing, but it might be, depending on the situation and what the reason for removing the listing is.
How do I find out if Etsy deactivated a listing?
If Etsy deactivates one of your listings, you’ll get an email explaining the basic reason, but it probably won’t spell out the actual specifics.
Since most of the deactivations are done by computer bots, the emails that go out afterward aren’t going to be personalized, they’ll just refer to the reason that the bot was given to deactivate the listing.
When I went into that section, I saw the mention of saying that you can’t claim FDA approval for your products, so I assumed that was the reason for the takedown.
I went ahead and removed that from the listings, but since there wasn’t a specific reason in the email I’m just assuming that will work to get the listings relisted.
Where do deactivated listings show up on Etsy?
If Etsy is the one to deactivate the listing, it will show up in your inactive listings section in the listings manager, with the note “deactivated by Etsy” on it.
You can still edit the listing and see the stats on it, the only difference is the note on it that says that it was deactivated by Etsy, not by you.
Etsy also refunded the listing fee for the deactivated listing, which is different from when you deactivate one yourself.
If Etsy does it, they’ll pay you back. If you do it, the listing just sits there and you won’t get your 20 cents back.
If you don’t get an email from Etsy about the deactivation, you’ll still see a big banner in your shop dashboard telling you that something was deactivated, so you’ll know that something happened!
I was going to show what that looked like, but it was only there yesterday, so it might only be there for a limited time after the deactivation.
If you’re someone who doesn’t come to your Etsy shop very often, and the banner isn’t there and you didn’t get an email, you might not even notice the deactivated listing!
Why you shouldn’t ignore a deactivated listing.
The important thing to do when you get a deactivated listing is to pay attention to it, because you don’t want it to happen again if you can help it.
If there are things in your other listings that you can change, or avoid doing in listings that you list in the future, it would be good to know.
I’ve heard about sellers who were caught in sweeps where their listings were deactivated by accident, and were reactivated later, but they keep getting deactivated and reactivated later.
If it’s a mistake on Etsy’s end it probably won’t hurt your shop in the long run, but you don’t want to keep violating a policy if that’s what happened.
Too many policy violations could end in your Etsy account being canceled entirely.
So what are some of the reasons that Etsy would deactivate a listing to begin with? There are a bunch of them.
Some reasons why Etsy would deactivate a listing.
For the full terms of service for Etsy if you want to read their entire prohibited items section, click here.
These are some of the reasons why Etsy would remove a listing from your shop:
Your listing made medical claims, or you’re selling medications or regulated materials like alcohol or drugs.
This is the one that had my listings deactivated, even if it was by accident.
If your listing has medical terminology or mentions that it can treat or cure a disease or condition, you run the risk of deactivation.
You also need to be careful not to say that anything is “healing” or that it can help with stress and anxiety, because those are medical and psychological conditions.
The thing about this is that when Etsy tells the bots to take down listings with these terms, it’s not looking at context, so if the term is anywhere in your listing it can be taken down.
You’re selling hate items and illegal items.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be selling anything illegal regardless of where you sell things.
Etsy also prohibits the sale of anything that glorifies hate, so just throw that stuff out.
Someone filed a copyright claim (DMCA) against your listing.
If someone files a copyright claim against your listing Etsy is legally obligated to deactivate it for ten days.
You’ll have that time to file a counterclaim if you do have the right to sell whatever it is, but remember that that’s a legally binding statement.
If you’re selling things that are copyrighted and you’re infringing, don’t counter the claim, just don’t sell that thing anymore.
If you do file a counterclaim and the person who filed the DMCA doesn’t proceed with legal action, the listing will be relisted after ten days.
Don’t be the person who thinks they can get away with filing a counterclaim for something if you don’t own the rights to sell it, though,
I’ve heard of some recent cases where people ended up being sued and paying a lot of money to people who they were copying. It’s not worth it.
You’re selling things that have a brand name on them.
Etsy’s policy about upcycling items is that you can’t sell things if the original maker’s logo or branding is still recognizable on the upcycled item. (This is also part of copyright laws, it’s not just Etsy’s policy.)
So if you’re recycling Polo shirts into book covers and the little polo player is right on the front, it’s not allowed because that’s a trademark violation.
You also can’t sell things that you designed that have another company’s logo on them.
Louis Vuitton items were taken off of Etsy recently because the company filed a complaint and Etsy did a sweep. Some people who had the Roman numerals “LV” in their listings had them deactivated even though they weren’t referring to the Vuitton company.
Basically, if you’re using someone else’s intellectual property to sell something, and people wouldn’t buy the things you’re selling if they didn’t have that logo or that brand name on them, you can’t legally sell it without a license from the company that owns the brand.
A lot of vintage sellers have listings deactivated now and then because of this. If you contact the legal department of the company that filed the takedown request and tell them that it’s a vintage item, they’ll usually remove the claim, and Etsy will be able to reactivate the listing.
You’re selling things that are “inappropriate content.”
Nudity, mature content, gory things, etc. can all be reported by people on Etsy and run the risk of being taken down.
Years ago I had someone report a severed finger silicone mold that I had made during the zombie craze, I guess the fondant finger I made was too realistic for their tastes.
Etsy deactivated the listing and when I contacted them they told me to just change the main photo so that it wasn’t as severed finger-y.
Instead of doing that I just moved it to my website only, so I don’t sell it on Etsy anymore.
It’s up to you how you decide to handle a deactivation that they’re letting you relist, but sometimes it isn’t worth the aggravation of knowing that someone will keep reporting it.
You’re reselling items that aren’t handmade.
If you’re violating Etsy’s handmade policy by reselling things that aren’t handmade by you, and don’t fall within the parameters of what Etsy thinks is handmade, you could get some listings deactivated.
You could also get your shop totally shut down, so follow the rules and you’ll be fine.
You were selling dangerous things.
Dangerous items are prohibited on Etsy, and this includes things that have been recalled.
If you’re a vintage seller you’ll probably run into this at some point if you list something and it happens to have had a recall at some point in the past.
Etsy will deactivate the listing and refer you to the prohibited items policies, but they might not explain that it’s because of a recall.
You’re selling things from specific countries.
There are trade embargoes with certain countries and there are international regulations that Etsy has to follow when it comes to this.
If you’re a US seller who wants to sell anything from Cuba, North Korea, Iran, or Crimea, forget it for now.
You also can’t put the word “Cuba” in a listing without running the risk of the listing being deactivated, so watch out.
Any country that the US has a trade embargo with is off-limits, and we also have to be aware of international regulations about things that can and can’t be shipped into different countries.
There are some exceptions for certain types of historical and educational items, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be caught by a bot gone awry.
Payment account problems.
Sometimes Etsy will deactivate all of your listings, or put your shop on permanent vacation, until you clear up payment account problems.
This could include you not paying your bill, or not having the correct tax information in your payment account.
Since Etsy has to issue tax forms to sellers, they need your social security and banking information, and if they don’t have it your listings could be deactivated.
Your shop is new.
Yep, this could be a reason. Sometimes Etsy will deactivate listings or close a shop if the account is new.
This can usually be reversed if you ask for a review or file an appeal.
Most of the time this happens because the bots have gone crazy and are being too vigilant about closing things to reduce risk.
It happens a lot, so if you open a shop and Etsy closes it right away, you’re not alone. Just file an appeal and it will probably be reopened when a human looks at it.
A bot made a mistake.
This tends to be the most common reason for deactivations, at least the ones that I hear about.
When Etsy changes something about their policies they’ll often go wild for a bit and take down things that shouldn’t be removed.
That’s what’s going on now with the medical claims deactivations.
I’ve heard from people who sell earrings, mugs, svg files, charcuterie boards, and other things who had their listings removed because Etsy said they were making false medical claims.
Of course, none of the listings were doing that, but they happened to have a word or two that the bots were looking for, and there’s no context in bot takedowns, things were taken down that shouldn’t have been.
It’s annoying, but if you get a deactivation, go through the process to figure out why, correct it, then contact Etsy for a review.
What to do if Etsy deactivates your listing.
There’s only one way to handle deactivations on Etsy…Fix it and file an appeal.
Figure out why Etsy deactivated the listing.
First, you’ll need to figure out why the listing was removed. In the email I received, Etsy linked to several articles that vaguely went over the rules, but they didn’t tell me exactly why the listing had been flagged.
You’ll probably have to do some detective work to figure out what happened. If the help sections Etsy links you to aren’t telling you anything, check in the Etsy forums to see if anyone else has had listings taken down.
This kind of thing tends to happen in waves, so a group of sellers will have things taken down, and you should be able to figure out what the reason was.
Change what needs to be fixed to make the listing compliant, if you can!
If there’s something in the listing that you need to remove (medical claims, the names of specific countries, certain words, etc.,) do that.
If the problem is something like Etsy needing your financial information, fill that out and file the appeal.
If you have a copyright claim filed against you, you can figure out whether you can legally file a counterclaim or not, then do that.
For a trademark claim takedown, there’s no appeals process, but if you’re a vintage seller who’s legitimately selling a vintage item and using the company’s name, you can contact the company’s legal department to explain the situation and ask them to withdraw the claim.
If they do, the listing will be relisted by Etsy.
Check your other listings to make sure they’re not doing the same thing.
You should also go in and make sure that none of your active listings have the same issues, because they could be next!
I went into the listings manager and did a bulk edit to remove any mention of the term “FDA” from all of my listing descriptions and titles.
Since you can’t bulk edit tags, I opened the quick edit view in the listings manager and did a page search on my PC by pressing CTRL-F, then typing the term in.
It found all of the times it had been used on the page, and since tags were showing on the page, I was able to remove all of the other words I was looking for
I also decided to remove some other terms that aren’t medical, but that are food-specific, just in case Etsy decided to expand the net and go for more terms.
Contact Etsy support if you need clarification.
If you really can’t figure out why the listing was deactivated, you can try contacting Etsy support to see if they can clarify anything.
The best option is to ask for a phone callback if that’s an option, but don’t be surprised if support isn’t able to help you.
When I talked to chat support they basically said that they would have to send my request to the team that handles this, and that they didn’t know how long it would take.
That’s the basic answer they give to everyone most of the time, so it might be helpful to contact them but it might not be.
File an appeal once you’ve changed the listing.
When you’ve changed the listing and removed anything that’s prohibited, you can contact Etsy to ask for a review.
To file an appeal for a shop suspension or a listing deactivation, use this link: File An Appeal.
Once you file this form, they’ll email you back with some article links that might answer your question, but you’ll be able to file an “I need more help” request to have them look into the situation.
This also assigns a case number to the appeal, so you’ll be able to click on the case number link in the email they send you, and you can see any progress or notes that were added to it.
And for fun, here’s a link that will show you all of the support conversations you’ve had with Etsy over the years… Etsy Support History It looks like this goes back 5 years, or at least that’s what it’s showing me. It could be that they only show you a certain number of them before it cuts off.
How to avoid having your listings deactivated
To avoid deactivations, you’ll need to follow the listings policies, obviously, but you’ll also have to avoid certain words and products that aren’t completely obvious.
When Etsy decides to add a word to the forbidden list, lots of listings will be deactivated, and anything that’s listed after that will have to avoid those words.
Sometimes the listings can be reactivated, but it’s better to avoid the whole thing to begin with.
In general, if you have a listing that gets deactivated and the explanation in the email makes no sense to you, it’s probably that there’s a word in your listing somewhere that’s being taken out of context by the Etsy bot, and you’ll have to file an appeal to figure out what’s going on.
Check with other sellers first to see if anyone else has experience with the same type of takedown.
Don’t do it again!
The most important thing is that if you DID do something to violate an Etsy policy, you shouldn’t do it again!
Multiple violations can get your shop shut down permanently with no ability to appeal at all.
It’s one thing if it’s Etsy’s mistake and they correct it, that shouldn’t count against you, but if you’re deliberately ignoring the rules then you’re responsible for that.
So read the prohibited policies section and make sure that you understand it. It’s not worth risking it!
Here are links to each of the section with the rules for different types of listings:
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