When you dropship products through Shopify, you need to comply with the laws and regulations that apply to the sale of products as if you were a retailer of those goods. These laws and regulations depend on the region where your store is located and the regions where you sell. Use the information on this page to learn about policies, laws, and regulations that might apply to your business.
What is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a fulfillment method where a merchant doesn’t keep the products that they sell in stock. Instead, a merchant purchases the item from a third-party supplier and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the merchant doesn’t have to handle the product directly during individual transactions. Learn more about dropshipping.
If you’re dropshipping products, then it's your responsibility to make sure that you’re offering products for sale that are safe. Before dropshipping a product, complete the following safety checks:
- Review any product safety laws.
- Make sure that your products have the proper licenses, certifications, markings, safety warnings, or other documentation such as instructions in any jurisdiction where you wish to sell those products.
- Make sure that any safety warnings and instructions are written in the official language of the jurisdiction where the product is sold.
Although you may have the appropriate licensing or certifications in one jurisdiction, these licenses or certifications may not carry over to other jurisdictions. Since product safety laws vary by jurisdiction, you should consult with a lawyer before offering products for sale in a new market.
If you’re a merchant selling products in the United States, then you should review the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Small Business Resources and the Regulatory Robot, to help you identify important safety requirements that may apply to your products.
Although you may not handle a product directly when using the dropshipping fulfillment method, you may be held liable for items that don’t meet the safety standards in any jurisdiction you're selling into.
Before using the dropshipping fulfillment method, make sure that you choose a reputable supplier. To help you choose a reputable supplier, you can do the following:
- Read reviews of a potential supplier.
- Read the supplier's policies.
- Talk with the supplier about their business.
- Purchase products from the supplier so that you can assess their quality.
- Order products from the supplier so that you can determine how long it takes them to process and ship an order, and how long it takes for items to arrive.
A product recall is when defective or unsafe goods are retrieved from consumers. Recalls often occur because of safety concerns over a manufacturing defect. A product recall may happen when a company reports their product to the government or after the government receives a report from consumers or other sources.
Anyone who manufactures, imports, distributes, or sells consumer products should review their obligations and responsibilities under the product recall laws in any jurisdiction where they're doing business.
It’s your responsibility to watch product recalls in any jurisdiction where you wish to sell your products and make sure that you’re not offering products for sale that are subject to a recall.
If you’ve been selling a product that’s later subject to a recall, then you must immediately remove that product from your online store and, if it’s required by law, you may need to notify customers who purchased that product and advise them of next steps.
If you become aware that a product you’re selling has a possible health-related or safety-related issue, then you should consult with legal counsel about whether you have a legal obligation to report that information to the government. If you do, then the government will evaluate your report and determine if a recall is appropriate.
If you think that you may need to conduct a product recall in the future, then you should consider whether to have a recall plan in place. A well-thought out and well-executed recall plan can prevent injuries to your customers and minimize the impact on your business.
Intellectual property protections
Shopify supports the protection of intellectual property and encourages you to do the same. Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy prohibits posting or uploading content that infringes on the copyright or trademarks of others.
If you dropship products, then you should consider whether the supplier is offering copyrighted, branded, or trademarked goods. To avoid the infringement of intellectual property, always make sure that you buy products from an authorized retailer, or directly from the manufacturer. The following product categories may contain a higher risk of being copyrighted, branded, or trademarked goods:
- designer bags
- electrical items
If you're found to be selling counterfeit goods or infringing on another’s intellectual property, then you risk being taken offline by Shopify. Learn more about copyright disputes and trademark disputes.
Shipping and processing timeframes
Under Shopify’s Terms of Service, you must add publicly accessible processing and shipping information that's current and accurate to your online store. If you fail to post current and accurate order delivery timelines, then your online store account might be deactivated. If your account is deactivated, then you might not be able to process orders or access your online store.
Before your customer completes a purchase, it should be clear to them how long it’ll take for their order to arrive. Make sure to communicate to your customer if there’s a change or delay to their order after they complete a purchase.
If you use the dropshipping fulfillment method, then it’s good practice to tell your customers that products will be shipped by a third-party from a different location. Before you choose a dropshipping supplier, you should order products from the supplier so that you can determine how long it takes them to process and ship an order, and how long it takes for items to arrive.
Under Shopify’s Terms of Service, you must add a publicly accessible refund policy that's current and accurate for your online store. Your refund policy should include the following information:
- The time in which a product must be returned.
- The address where a return needs to be sent.
- The cost of returning a product, and who pays for the return.
- The time it takes to get a refund might depend on where the customer lives in relation to your location.
- Contact information a customer can use to contact you if they don't receive a refund in a timely manner.
If you're located in or selling to customers in Europe, then in your refund policy, you must also provide European customers with information about their basic rights, including the right to withdrawal and conformity of goods.
You should review the laws of your jurisdiction and your customers' jurisdiction for legal requirements regarding refunds. If you fail to post a current and accurate refund policy, then your online store account might be deactivated. If your account is deactivated, then you might not be able to process orders or access your online store.
If you're using the dropshipping fulfillment method to import products from abroad into another country, then it's important to accurately state that the products are being imported and may be subject to customs clearance. It’s good practice to list all fees before checkout.
You can find specific information about product safety online, such as:
- Product safety in Canada
- Product safety in the United States
- Product safety in the European Union
- Product safety in the United Kingdom
- Product safety in Australia
- Product safety in New Zealand
You can find specific information about product recalls online, such as:
- Canadian online resource for product recalls
- United States online resource for recalls
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) product alerts
- European Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Products (RAPEX)
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) global portal on product recalls
You can find specific information about refunds online, such as: