Help
Help
Search the help pages 
(Does not search for items or products)
 SearchTips

Using eBay returns


eBay returns gives you and your buyers a simple and efficient way to handle returns. Understand the requirements and follow the steps to ensure smooth and professional transactions with your buyers.

Returns can be used when:

  • An item is listed and sold on eBay.com. You can be registered on any eBay site.

  • You specify in the Return policy section of the listing that you accept returns.

  • You haven't already issued a refund for the transaction through PayPal.

  • A buyer starts a return within your specified return time frame.

  • A buyer pays for the item with PayPal. 

  • A buyer hasn't opened an eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Purchase Protection case, or requested a refund on the credit card associated with the buyer's PayPal account.

  • An item is listed in a category covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

Getting started

Returns, refunds, replacements and exchanges

Offering returns gives your buyers an efficient way to return an item for a refund, replacement or exchange. A replacement is an item that is exactly the same as the original item and an exchange is an item that is different than the original item but of comparable value.

Setting up your return policy in a listing

If you want your buyers to be able to return an item you're listing, specify in the listing that you accept returns.

If you're using the quick listing tool and you specify in the listing that you accept returns, you'll see the default return policy of 14 days with money back, buyer pays return shipping. If you set up your listing using other tools, you have more options, including your return policy window, whether you offer money back, replacement, or exchange, or charge a restocking fee.

How it works

If you specify in the Return policy section of a listing that you accept returns, a buyer can start a return for that item for any reason. We'll guide both you and your buyer through the process, step by step.

  1. A buyer starts a return.

    You get an email letting you know that the buyer has started a return. The e-mail allows you to reply to the return request with one of the following actions within 3 business days of receiving the request:

    • Accept the return: Provide the buyer an eBay return shipping label or upload your own return shipping label to send the item back to you.

    • Refund the buyer: Issue a refund and allow the buyer to keep the item.

    • Offer a partial refund: You have one chance to offer a partial refund amount and the buyer keeps the item.

    • Send a message: Reply to the buyer directly. Sending a message to the buyer does not approve the return request.

    If you offer replacements or exchanges and the buyer has requested a new item, accept the request and ship the new item within 5 business days* of the buyer shipping the original item back.

    We ask the buyer to pack the item carefully and return it in the same condition as it was received. Learn more about the item condition policy for returns.

  2. You provide a shipping address, if needed.

    If you've set your return preferences to use multiple return addresses, you have 3 business days to provide the information after a buyer starts a return. (For issuing refunds and shipping replacements or exchanges, we start counting business days after you provide return details, if needed.)

    • If you don't provide a specific return shipping address, the buyer ships the item to your primary return shipping address.

  3. The buyer ships the item back to you.

    If you choose to use an eBay label, we provide the buyer with a return shipping label. We also give the buyer a packing slip to print and enclose in the return package. We generate a unique return ID that appears on both the shipping label and the packing slip, along with the buyer's ID.

    The return shipping label will use US Postal Service (USPS), First-Class or Priority Mail, whichever is the most appropriate based on cost, package weight, and delivery time. Delivery Confirmation is automatically included so you can track the status of the return shipment. Signature Confirmation is also included if the item is valued at or more than $750.

    If you choose to provide your own return shipping label, you can upload an image of the label (PNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, or PDF) with the carrier information and tracking number. When accepting a return, select the "Upload a shipping label" option. Upload the image of the label and select the shipping carrier. If for some reason the tracking number doesn't appear, please provide the tracking number. If you choose to use an untracked return label, your buyer will not be required to provide proof of delivery of the return if eBay is asked to step in and help, and you will be responsible for the reimbursement amount. Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

    For refunds: We ask the buyer to ship the item to you within 5 business days of starting the return.

    For replacements or exchanges: We ask the buyer to ship the item to you within 5 business days of starting the return. We send the buyer reminders after 5 business days, and we charge the buyer for the second item after 30 days.

  4. You receive the item.

    If you're issuing a refund, thoroughly inspect the item to be sure it meets the item condition policy for returns before refunding the buyer. You must issue a refund within 6 business days of receiving the returned item. After you've issued a refund, your eBay final value fees show as a credit on your next seller invoice.

*Business days are weekdays—Monday through Friday. Saturdays, Sundays, and major US holidays aren't business days.

Customizing your Returns preferences

When you offer a return policy on your items and want to provide your buyers with the best shopping experience possible, you may decide that you'd like help in managing some or all aspects of your return requests. Return rules allow you to save time by automating some aspects of the returns process and expediting a refund or replacement to your buyer. You can choose which parts of the return process you want to automate – and which parts you prefer to do yourself – by setting up and customizing your refund and return rules within your Returns preferences.

  • 'Send a refund' rule: If you sometimes provide a refund and let the buyer keep an item, you can automate this process. Set up a rule to apply to all returns based on the item's refund amount and/or return reasons you select.

  • 'Approve a return' rule: Expedite your return process by automatically accepting a return request and immediately providing a return shipping label to your buyer. For returns that you've automated, we provide the buyer with a return shipping label. Set up a rule to apply to all returns based on the item's refund amount and/or return reasons you select.

If you have multiple return addresses, offer replacements, or want to create rules that apply to only some of your listings, you can set up Advanced return rules that apply to all listings, listings in a certain category, or to a listing group that you create. You can create up to 500 rules.

Please note, the 'Approve a return' rule will not be available for some return requests including:

  • When the buyer is responsible for the cost of return shipping and the return request is received outside of your return policy

  • When there is something wrong with the item and the return request is received outside of the eBay Money Back Guarantee

  • When the item needs to be sent back from a buyer located in a country outside the country specified in your primary return shipping address or 'Approve a return' rule

  • When the item was purchased using the Global Shipping Program

In these cases, we ask you to step in and manually approve the return request.

Include a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number: If your business requires RMA numbers to issue returns, you can select this option in your Return preferences to include RMAs on your return label.

You can update your returns preferences any time in My eBay:
  1. Click My eBay at the top of most pages. You may need to sign in.

  2. Click the Account tab, and then click the Site preferences link on the left.

  3. In the Return preferences section, click the Show link, and then click the Edit link.

You can also update return preferences in Seller Hub > Overview > Shortcuts > Site preferences.

Return shipping charges

Either you or the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, as specified in your return policy, except when an item is being returned because it isn't as described in the listing. In this instance, you pay the return shipping charges. 

When you're responsible for return shipping charges

When you're responsible for return shipping charges, the charges are included on your next monthly seller invoice as a fee. These fees may be charged to your automatic payment method on file.

If the buyer uses alternative shipping arrangements, you need to reimburse the buyer for the agreed-upon shipping costs outside the returns process. You can send payment to the buyer through PayPal or another payment method.

When you use a label provided by eBay, your USPS return shipping rate is never more than the original outbound rate, provided that you purchase eBay-generated shipping labels for both the original shipment and the return.

When the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges

When the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, we charge the buyer's PayPal account.

If you used calculated shipping or printed shipping labels from eBay or PayPal to send the item, we use this package weight to determine return shipping charges for the buyer. In some instances, return shipping charges may not be based on the actual weight of the package, but on an estimate.

Returns are shipped through the USPS First-Class or Priority Mail—whichever is the most appropriate for the cost, package weight, and delivery time.
In some instances, return shipping charges may not be based on the actual weight of the package, but are an estimate. These charges are based on rates eBay negotiated with the USPS and are typically less than what you would pay at the post office for the same item.

Refunds

Refund amounts are automatically adjusted for any restocking fees or shipping charges, depending on the reason for return.

When the item isn't as described: 

If a buyer returns an item because it's not as described in the listing, arrives damaged, or is missing parts, then your refund to the buyer is:

Total purchase price plus original shipping equals total refund

In these situations, you're required to pay for the return shipping charges and you can't charge a restocking fee. If the buyer used alternative shipping arrangements, you're expected to refund the buyer for those agreed-upon charges through PayPal or another payment method.

All other returns:

If a buyer returns an item for any other reason, including deciding not to purchase the item after all, you keep any restocking fee specified in the listing Return policy. You can waive this fee, if you like.

In these situations, you can also keep the original shipping charge (unless otherwise specified in your return policy). The buyer pays for the return shipping charges, unless you specify in the Return policy section of the listing that you pay for return shipping charges.

For this type of return, in most cases the refund is the total purchase price, including item cost, sales tax and other charges, less:

  • Original shipping (unless specified otherwise in your Return policy)

  • Restocking fee (if specified in the listing Return Policy)

  • Return shipping (if specified in the listing Return Policy)

If a return is escalated

If you don't issue a refund through eBay returns within 6 business days of receiving the returned item, a buyer can open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case. When applicable, the eBay Money Back Guarantee refund amount is:

Total purchase price plus original shipping equals total eBay Buyer Protection refund 

A refund amount could be higher through the eBay Money Back Guarantee. We strongly encourage you to issue original refunds on time.

Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

Timeline for Refunds

  • When a buyer starts a return, funds may be temporarily set aside in your PayPal account for that sale. Learn more about why PayPal payments might not yet be available.

  • After you've received a returned item, and you've made sure the item's condition is as expected, you need to issue the buyer a refund within 6 business days.

  • If you don't issue a refund within 6 business days of receiving a returned item, we may ask PayPal to reverse the buyer's payment for the refund amount. If you don't have sufficient funds in your PayPal account to cover the refund, we may give the buyer the refund and include the refund amount on your seller invoice as a fee, payable through your automatic payment method on file.

Replacements and exchanges

If you're registered on eBay.com, and you have inventory available, you may want to offer a buyer who is returning an item the option of getting a replacement or an exchange, instead of a refund.

When your buyer initiates a return for a replacement or exchange, we guide you through the process step by step.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Items eligible for replacement or exchange are those where the total refund amount for the original item would be less than $250.00.

  • You can print your shipping label on eBay for the replacement or exchange, or use your own shipping and upload tracking information. See Return shipping charges.

  • Once your buyer initiates a return with a replacement or exchange request, you won't be able to use the funds from the transaction to purchase a shipping label on eBay for the new item.

  • If the buyer returns the item with a request for a replacement or exchange and no suitable item is available, you're asked to issue a refund instead, without receiving an out of stock defect.

  • If the buyer doesn't return the original item, the new item is treated as a purchase. The buyer's PayPal account is charged, and you're paid for the item, including shipping for the new item. A final value fee is assessed for the transaction.

Timeline for replacements:

  • You must send the new item and upload tracking information within 5 business days of the return request being initiated in the system.

  • If you haven't shipped the new item within 5 business days of the buyer uploading shipment tracking information, you're asked to issue a refund to the buyer.

  • If you fail to send a new item to the buyer, we will ask you to issue a refund. You have 6 business days to issue the refund once the returned item has been delivered to you. If you don't issue the refund within 6 business days, we may give the buyer the refund and include the refund amount on your seller invoice as a fee, payable through your automatic payment method on file.

  • If either you or your buyer would like to open a case, you have 10 days from either the day the replacement or exchange was delivered to the buyer, or the day the original was delivered to you– whichever is latest.

Alternative return shipping arrangements

In some cases, buyers can start a return but won't print or use a return shipping label:   

Insurance isn't available for return shipments. If either you or your buyer prefers that an item be returned with insurance, return postage with insurance should be purchased instead of using the label provided by eBay.
Occasionally, more than one package is needed to return an item. In these instances, buyers can use the label provided on one package, but are expected to make alternate shipping arrangements for the remaining packages.
We can only issue a return label for items within the USPS size and weight guidelines for the shipping service used.
If the package is outside of the USPS guidelines, the buyer needs to make alternative shipping arrangements.
We may not be able to issue a return label for items which must be shipped back from another country. In this instance, we may allow you to upload a return shipping label if you have one, or you can handle this request directly with the buyer.
A return shipping label isn't available if the expected shipping charges exceed the expected refund. If you routinely handle this type of return request by allowing the buyer to keep the item, you can automate that process with refund rules in your Return preferences settings.
Go to My eBay > Account > Site preferences and scroll down to Return preferences to set up refund rules.
You can also find this in Seller Hub > Overview > Shortcuts > Site Preferences
You and the buyer need to agree on alternative shipping arrangements or, in the case of local pickup, a way of getting the item back to you safely.

When using alternative shipping, we instruct buyers to include tracking information. If the item is valued at or more than $750, signature confirmation is also required. We give buyers a packing slip and ask them to enclose it with the returned item.

When using alternative shipping arrangements, either you or the buyer pays for return shipping charges as outlined above.

If you're responsible for return shipping charges, we ask the buyer to contact you to agree on the service and cost before an item is shipped. In these instances, you need to refund the buyer for the shipping charges—or you can provide a pre-paid shipping label.

Final value fees and PayPal fees

Final value fees

Refunds: When a full refund is successfully deposited in the buyer's account, your eBay final value fees show as a credit on your next seller invoice.

Replacements and exchanges: If a buyer requests a replacement or exchange but does not return the original item, the replacement or exchange is then handled like a standard purchase. The buyer is charged for the second item and a final value fee for the transaction appears on your next seller invoice.

PayPal fees

When you issue a refund, your variable PayPal fee is refunded based on the total refund amount. Your fixed PayPal transaction fee isn't refunded. To learn more about variable and fixed transaction fees, see the PayPal User Agreement.

If you send a new item as part of a replacement or exchange to your buyer instead of issuing a refund, there is no change to your PayPal fees.

Seller performance and Feedback

Seller performance

In general, if a buyer requests a return, your seller performance isn't affected. However, if either you or the buyer ask eBay to step in and help, and eBay Customer Service resolves the case in favor of the buyer, your seller performance may be affected. Learn more about how eBay Money Back Guarantee cases can affect your seller performance.

Feedback score

Returns on eBay doesn't change existing rules about Feedback.

Resolving problems

After we notify you that a buyer has started a return, you can Refund the buyer in the return request. Keep in mind that the buyer can ask eBay to step in within 3 business days, so respond to your buyer quickly.
We discourage haggling or trying to dissuade buyers from returning an item. We recommend that you only contact buyers if you feel that you can resolve the problem in another way.
Examples of when you may not want an item returned to you:
  • If an item has a low price or is damaged beyond repair, you may decide to just issue a refund.

  • If a problem is due to operating error and you feel you can adequately troubleshoot the issue and avoid a return.

You can also set up seller automation rules in My eBay, to handle this type of situation automatically. Go to My eBay > Account > Site preferences and scroll down to Return preferences. You can also find this in Seller Hub > Overview > Shortcuts > Site Preferences.
Occasionally, you and your buyer may decide that a return isn't necessary. If this happens, you can't close the return yourself.
If you and your buyer have communicated through Messages in My eBay or Seller Hub, and you've determined that a return is no longer necessary, ask the buyer to close the return. The buyer can close the return if the return shipment isn't already in progress.
If your buyer has already printed a return shipping label, but hasn't shipped the item back to you, the buyer can simply disregard the label. No shipping charges occur unless a label is scanned by USPS.
A lenient return policy can work in your favor. If the item still arrives within your return time frame, we recommend you issue a refund. However, if the buyer doesn't ship the item within 5 business days of initiating a return, you're not obligated to issue a refund.
Take into account a possible carrier delay—it's possible that the buyer shipped the item at the end of the last business day, but USPS didn't scan the package until the following morning.
Refunds:
If a buyer doesn't send back an item, you don't need to issue a refund.
Replacements and exchanges:
If you send a replacement or exchange and a buyer doesn't send back the original item, we charge the buyer for the second item, and make a payment to you. A final value fee for the transaction appears on your next invoice.
For each sale (or transaction), a buyer has one opportunity to return an item or items. For multi-quantity listings, a buyer has a single opportunity to return any of the multiple items purchased.
For example, a buyer selects a quantity of 5 when buying T-shirts. The buyer has one opportunity to return any quantity of the 5 T-shirts. If the buyer returns 2 of the 5 T-shirts, the remaining 3 shirts can't be returned later.
You can only refund up to the total amount paid by the buyer. If you want to add a courtesy credit or you need to reimburse the buyer for alternative shipping arrangements, you need to make a separate payment outside of the eBay returns process.
There may be situations when you authorize a refund, but the refund failed, canceled, or did not complete. If a buyer hasn't received their refund within the required time frame, they can open a case. We recommend that you confirm a refund has been completed successfully.
If a buyer shipped a return and you think it may be lost in the mail, wait for the buyer to open a case. We'll look into the matter at that time.
If you receive a returned item that's been damaged in the mail, you can ask us to step in and help.

Misuse of returns

Many problems are misunderstandings that can be worked out when buyers and sellers talk to each other—but occasionally, you may not be able to resolve an issue. If you feel a member is abusing eBay returns, we want to know about it.

Protecting sellers

If a buyer has tried to ensure an item is returned to you safely, we suggest you issue a refund to provide great customer service.

A lenient return policy is strongly recommended, except in circumstances where the buyer is at fault:

  • The wrong item is returned.

  • You receive an empty box.

  • The item doesn't meet the item condition policy for returns.

  • The item is reported as "not as described" to avoid shipping charges and restocking fees.

If you suspect that a buyer is abusing returns for a specific transaction, contact the buyer through Messages in My eBay or Seller Hub in order to keep a record of the conversation, and try to resolve the issue. If you still suspect buyer abuse, you will have multiple options to report a problem with a buyer to us throughout the returns flow;

  • Within the inline help

  • During the return process and after a refund has been provided and a return is closed

  • Or you can always use the Report a Buyer feature from the listing.

In instances like this, a buyer can escalate the issue to us. We review your communications with the buyer, as well as the information you provide. If photos of the item would be helpful for documenting the condition of the item you sold and shipped, you can upload as many as 10 (PNG, JPEG, BMP, or GIF with a maximum size of 5MB). You can add photos until the return is closed. Uploaded photos can be removed only by contacting us.

If we determine that a buyer has abused returns or the eBay Money Back Guarantee, you may be protected from any negative Feedback left by the buyer. The buyer may also be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges and account suspension.

Protecting buyers

If you agree to accept returns and a buyer acts within all return time frames, but you fail to issue a refund within 6 business days of receiving the returned item, the buyer may file a case. 

The eBay Money Back Guarantee does not require a buyer returning an item through eBay returns to wait for you to respond before we review the case. Either you or the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, as detailed in the listing's return policy and/or as covered under the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

If we determine that a seller has abused returns or the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the seller may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges, limits on the returns functionality the seller can use, and/or account suspension.

Changes to this process

We may update the returns process at any time by posting the amended terms on this site.

Contact Customer Service

Report problems with another eBay member.

Contact us

Have a question? We can help.

 Contact us

Ask eBay members

Get help from other eBay members. Visit the Answer Center to post a question.