Amazon is a massive online retail platform with billions of shoppers across 18 worldwide marketplaces. And not only does Amazon have its own selection of first-party products, it also supports more than 2.5 million third-party sellers, too. With the recent boom of ecommerce, aspiring entrepreneurs have looked to Amazon as a way to build a profitable business in 2021.
So, in the interest of protecting both its sellers and shoppers, Amazon requires all sellers to go through a strict verification process.
The current Amazon seller account verification process was enacted between 2016 and 2017, and the major difference is that Amazon now requires two forms of identification in order for a seller to be cleared to sell on the platform.
Amazon’s verification process exists for three main reasons:
- Protecting customers from “bad actors” who focus only on profits, rather than quality products and a positive customer experience.
- Protecting sellers from harmful “black hat” sellers who employ unethical tactics to win sales.
- Keeping counterfeiting, money-laundering, and other illicit practices off of Amazon’s platform.
This article covers everything you need to know about Amazon’s verification process, including what you need to know to get verified as a seller yourself.
What is Amazon’s verification process?
Amazon’s seller account verification process consists of two parts.
- First, you must answer a series of questions (via an online form) about your business and yourself (or whoever the main contact for the business will be).
- Second, you must provide information that proves you are who you say you are.
What information does Amazon need?
- Your business information, including:
- Legal business name
- Business address
- Contact information
- Email address for the company account
- An internationally chargeable credit card
- If the credit card isn’t valid, Amazon will cancel your registration
- Phone number
- Amazon may need to reach you during the registration process
- Also, Amazon uses your phone number to verify your account
- Federal Tax ID; this can be:
- Your social security number
- Your business’ Federal Tax ID number
- State Tax ID (if you are a U.S. seller)
Do I need to have a business entity (LLC, etc.) to sell on Amazon?
No. You can sell on Amazon as a sole proprietorship. However, we do recommend that you form one down the road, especially if you are serious about selling on Amazon.
What do I need in order to verify my identity/my business’ identity?
In order to sell in the North American marketplaces (the United States, Canada, and Mexico), Amazon requires sellers submit two types of documents to the Seller Identification Verification (SIV) process.
- National ID card
- Credit card statements, bank statements, or utility bills
Amazon goes into further detail about the type of information that they accept, as well as the format in which you must submit this information, on their service page.
Does Amazon’s verification process work?
In early 2020, we spoke with Amazon suspensions expert Cynthia Stine, who shared that, for the most part, the process has been a success for Amazon.
For instance, many of the “bad actors” on Amazon — those signing up to sell on Amazon for unethical reasons — were immediately removed from the platform once the program was introduced.
In some cases, however, some tech-savvy sellers have been able to get around Amazon’s verification process, leading to “white hats” getting caught in the crossfire, but Amazon is continually working to prevent this.
What are common issues that new sellers run into during the Amazon seller account verification process?
According to Stine, the most common reasons new sellers fail the verification process include:
Format/resolution of supporting documents submission
Amazon has very specific guidelines for how they want the two types of documents submitted. Sellers who send in poor scans, or incomplete and/or incorrect information, are sometimes rejected automatically.
Billing and residence information do not match
Another common issue new sellers run into is mismatched information. Billing and residential information must match.
For example, let’s say a seller’s ID card has their previous address listed, but their billing information shows their new address. If they send that information as is, Amazon will reject their application due to the discrepancy.
Sellers aren’t sending full documents
Sometimes, sellers submit only part or a single page of a billing document or bank statement. Amazon wants to see the entire document including all of the small print pages.
Amazon knows that the first couple of pages of a utility bill or a bank statement are easy to forge. That’s why they require new sellers to send in every single page of their document.
However, Amazon doesn’t make this requirement clear in their guidelines, which is why we’re highlighting it here.
Sometimes, it’s just unknown
Warning! Amazon doesn’t necessarily publish all of the nuances and rules sellers must follow in order to be verified; sometimes, sellers are rejected and aren’t sure why.
Sellers may attempt to contact Amazon for further insight, but should first review every known step and all documentation carefully to ensure the discrepancy wasn’t on their end.
Will “grandfathered-in” sellers have to go through the same verification process?
Currently, sellers who sold on Amazon before the verification process changed do not have to prepare the two forms of identification like new sellers do. However, Stine fully expects Amazon to begin verifying grandfathered sellers as it continues to crack down on bad actors.
For that reason, we recommend that sellers with older accounts prepare their verification documents now.
Amazon could drop this on sellers without notice, meaning grandfathered sellers who are caught off guard could be suspended or even banned. But, if sellers get the documents they need to verify who they are now, they won’t lose precious time and sales later.
3 best practices for Amazon seller account verification
Use the following three tips for getting through the Amazon verification process smoothly:
1 – Prepare for verification now
Sometimes, it can take weeks or even months for a seller to make sure their “ducks are in a row.” This is especially important for existing sellers whose livelihoods would be affected by a sudden change in Amazon’s terms of service.
2 – Make sure all forms of identification match
All of the materials you plan to submit should match and prove that you are who you say you are, and that your Amazon business is under your purview.
3 – Remember: Sellers are suspended during the verification process
For those who aren’t aware of this rule, Amazon suspends active sellers during verification. And while that may not seem like much of an issue, sometimes Amazon’s verification process can take weeks, or even months.
However, if you have all of your identifying documentation ready to go, the faster Amazon will move you through the process — and the faster you can get back to selling!