Who pays for return shipping — you or the buyer — depends on the reason they’re returning the item and your return policy.
If the buyer is sending an item back because it doesn’t match the listing description or it arrived damaged or faulty, you’re responsible for the cost of return shipping, even if you don’t offer returns.
If they simply changed their mind or ordered the wrong item, who pays for return shipping is determined by your return policy. If you stated you offer free returns, you have to pay; otherwise, you can ask the buyer to cover the cost.
eBay recommends using a tracked service for return shipping. Tracking lets you know the item is on its way, and eBay can see the progress of the return in case you ask it to step in. When you use an eBay label, tracking is automatically included.
Return shipping options
When you’re responsible for return shipping, you can choose from a number of options in the return request form. To get to the return request form, go to your Returns dashboard and select View return details. If you’ve accepted the buyer’s return or offered to send them a replacement, you can choose one of the following options to let them ship the item back to you.
Send an eBay shipping label
If the package meets the size requirements set by the return carrier, you can purchase a return shipping label through the return request and send it to your buyer. They can then print the label and use it to send the item back to you.
Here’s how to send an eBay shipping label from the View return details section:
- Select Send an eBay shipping label.
- Confirm your return address on the label.
Return shipping labels don’t include insurance. If you want return shipping to be insured, see the section on alternative return shipping options.
Return shipping costs when you use an eBay label
When the buyer is returning the item to you, the cost of the label will be charged to your account once it’s scanned by the carrier. eBay may ask you to accept a billing agreement to authorize payment for these kinds of charges.
Any time you use an eBay return shipping label, eBay will automatically select the cheapest return option for your item.
In some instances, return shipping charges are estimated rather than based on the actual weight of the package. These charges are based on rates negotiated by eBay, and are typically less than what you would pay the carrier for the same item.
If the expected shipping charges exceed the expected refund or the refund value of a replacement or exchange, an eBay return shipping label won’t be available.
Provide your own pre-paid label
If you’d rather the buyer use your preferred shipping carrier for return shipping, or if an eBay label isn’t available, you can provide your own return label.
When using your own carrier, make sure to upload the label and tracking details to the buyer’s return request. For items that have a total cost of $750 or more, signature confirmation is required.
Here’s how to send your own label from the View return details section:
- Select Upload a shipping label and then the upload image icon.
- Choose the label you want to send to your buyer.
- Select your carrier and enter the tracking number.
Shipping labels for international returns
Language barriers may make it difficult to purchase an international return label. If you’re unsure, try contacting the buyer to ask if they’ll purchase an international label on your behalf.
If they agree, you need to send funds to cover the cost. Ensure the buyer uses a tracked service and includes signature confirmation for items with a total cost of $750 or more.
International returns and customs
If you’re sending funds to cover the shipping cost, the buyer is required to fill out the customs forms.
To ensure there are no delays with your return, provide the necessary customs information to the buyer. Double check that your information is correct; falsifying a customs form is against the law and eBay policy.
Since you’re the recipient of the parcel, you are responsible for paying any customs, brokerage, service charges, or duty fees.
Ask the buyer to use a label you sent along with the item
If you included a return shipping label with the item when you sent it to the buyer, you can let them know that they should use that to send it back to you.
Here’s how you can let the buyer know about the label from the View return details section:
- Select your carrier and enter the tracking number.
- Add a message to the buyer.
- Tick the box beside I provided a return label with the original item.
Offer to send funds for the return shipping cost
Use the carrier’s shipping calculator to find out how much return shipping will cost. If you’re unable to determine the cost, contact the buyer and ask them to provide a quote.
Ensure that the amount includes tracking, and on items that have a total cost of $750 or more, include signature confirmation.
How to send funds to the buyer:
- Contact the buyer through eBay Messages, and ask how they would like to receive funds to purchase a return label.
- Send the funds using the buyer's preferred method.
- Ask the buyer to confirm that they’ve received the funds and to upload tracking to the return request so you can see that the item is on its way.
Accommodate the return another way
If you prefer, you can provide the buyer with another method of returning the item. For instance, you can offer to pick up the item in person or let them drop the item off at your closest store. If you want to provide an alternative method of returning the item, simply select Confirm you will facilitate the return from the View return details section.
Return an item with alternative shipping arrangements
Sometimes returning an item may require additional, alternative shipping arrangements, such as:
- Shipping a return with insurance: Insurance isn’t available for return shipments that use eBay labels. If you or the buyer prefer that an item be returned with insurance, purchase your own return postage with insurance instead of using the return shipping label provided.
- Returning multiple packages: For each return requested through My eBay, one return shipping label is generally provided. If the buyer finds that they need multiple return shipping labels to ship multiple packages back to you, ask them to contact you to make alternative shipping arrangements for the packages.
- Item is outside eBay guidelines: An eBay return shipping label is only available for items within certain size and weight guidelines. If the package is outside of these guidelines, you need to make alternative shipping arrangements.
- Item was originally delivered by freight or local pickup: When you’re responsible for return shipping costs and you need to make alternative shipping arrangements, speak to the buyer to agree on the service and cost before they send the item. Make sure that they include the packing slip, tracking, and for items that have a total cost of $750 or more, signature confirmation.
When the buyer wants to return an item using alternative shipping arrangements and you’re responsible for the return shipping charges, they’ll need to work with you to agree on the shipping service and cost before returning the item.
If the buyer uses alternative shipping arrangements, the return shipping charges aren’t included in any eBay Money Back Guarantee refunds, even if you agreed to pay return shipping charges.
I don't accept returns, why do I have to pay for a return shipping label?
If the buyer is returning an item because it's damaged, faulty, or didn't match your listing description, the eBay Money Back Guarantee allows them to return it for free. That means that you'll need to accept the return and cover the cost of return shipping, even if you don't normally offer returns.
eBay may automatically accept a return request from a buyer on your behalf if an eBay shipping label is available. Once you've received the item, you have 2 business days to review and issue a refund, or ask eBay to step in and help.
What happens if the item is damaged while it's being returned?
When returning an item, it's the buyer's responsibility to ensure that it's packed properly and protected during shipping. If the item is damaged while it's being returned to you, you may be entitled to offer them a reduced refund. See the Partial refund guidelines for more details.
What happens if the item is lost while it's being returned?
In general, whoever pays for return shipping is responsible for ensuring the item arrives at its destination. If you paid for the return shipping, you'll need to work with the shipping carrier to try and find the item. If the buyer paid, they’ll need to contact the carrier instead.
What happens if the buyer refuses to pay for return shipping?
Who's responsible for return shipping costs depends on why the item is being returned. If the buyer is returning the item because it's damaged, faulty, or didn't match your listing description, then you're responsible for the return shipping costs, even if your returns policy says you don't offer free returns.
If the buyer is sending the item back for another reason, for instance, if they ordered the wrong item or changed their mind, then they’ll need to pay for return shipping, unless your returns policy states you offer free returns.
If the buyer is responsible for return shipping costs, and they refuse to pay, you can ask us to step in and help resolve the issue.