Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging 2021 Updates

How to comply and earn extra incentives

Photo of a delivered package on a doorstep

When Amazon shifted its Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) program in 2019 from optional to required for certain packages, many vendors scrambled to comply and avoid fines. Now, Amazon is expanding the program to incentivize vendors even more for participating. 

If you currently sell on Amazon or your company is considering it as a future distribution channel, here’s what you need to know about these changes to FFP. 

How the Frustration-Free Packaging program works

In 2008, Amazon introduced FFP to encourage manufacturers to reduce packaging waste and develop sustainable alternatives for online fulfillment, as well as to provide a better packaging experience for customers. 

Originally, FFP programs incentivized manufacturers to package their products in easy-to-open packaging that is 100% recyclable and ready to ship to customers without additional Amazon boxes. 

Then in 2019, Amazon raised the stakes by combining incentives for participating with penalties for failing to comply. Since late 2019, all packages fulfilled by Amazon that are larger than 18" x 14" x 8" or heavier than 20 lbs. have required certification. Sellers who don’t meet FFP requirements have been subject to a $1.99-per-unit chargeback by Amazon.

While the program has been a challenge for many vendors and manufacturers to navigate, it has helped make significant strides with sustainability. According to Amazon, “As of June 2021, we have reduced the weight of outbound packaging by over 36% and eliminated more than 1 million tons of packaging material since 2015 — the equivalent of 2 billion shipping boxes.”

2021 FFP updates: expanded eligibility and incentives

In 2021, Amazon announced additional FFP incentives to attract new certifications and motivate vendors with existing certifications to optimize their packaging even more.

Vendors with the following package types can qualify for FFP incentives:

  • Sortable packages greater than 80 cubic inches in volume or between 5-20 lbs. in weight, with dimensions of 18” x 14” x 8” or less 
  • Non-Sortable packages between 20-50 lbs. in weight or at least one dimension that exceeds the 18” x 14” x 8” thresholds, less than 18,000 cubic inches in volume, and less than 108” in length 

Vendors who are already FFP certified can earn additional incentives by:

  • Preparing products to ship without additional packaging by passing ISTA 6-Amazon testing and receiving a Ship in Own Container (SIOC) certification;
  • Re-engineering packaging to reduce the overall size; or 
  • Ensuring packaging is fully recyclable and easy to open


For each certified unit shipped from October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022, vendors can receive $0.08 - $6.49, depending on the extent of improvements made. The $1.99-per-unit chargeback will also remain in place for applicable Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) that don’t meet FFP requirements, but these fines won’t be extended to other ASINs at this time. 

Austin Given, Director of Packaging Design & Development – Corporate Accounts with Veritiv, recommends approaching FFP certification strategically, as optimizing packages to take advantage of these incentives could also create tradeoffs. Working with a team who is familiar with the FFP program and who has expertise in packaging strategy, design, and engineering can help companies evaluate these tradeoffs and make informed decisions.

“Standardization comes with pros and cons,” Given says. “A partner like Veritiv can help weigh the benefits of simplicity vs. the financial and environmental costs of standardization, and in the case of the Frustration-Free Packaging program, engineer solutions that minimize packaging volume while maintaining expected performance.”

4 steps to comply and take advantage of new incentives



1. Measure

First, measure the package length, width, and height of the ASINs your company fulfills on Amazon to determine which ones qualify for FFP.

A few useful tips for measurement:

  • If the package is an irregular shape, consider the smallest rectangular container that would hold the product. 
  • If the product ships with its own packaging, you can leave the product inside and measure the outer dimensions of the package. 
  • If you’re developing packaging from scratch or shipping products to Amazon without primary packaging, measure the product’s overall dimensions in a natural resting position without compressing it.  

2. Test for certification

To comply with FFP, avoid penalties, and qualify for incentives, packages must pass a range of performance tests based on the certification level you choose: Tier 1 (Frustration-Free Packaging), Tier 2 (Ships in Own Container), or Tier 3 (Prep-Free Packaging). Learn more about each tier and its certification requirements here

If a package does not pass testing, your team will need to make improvements and test again for certification. Common changes often include replacing padding materials that are not curbside recyclable (such as Styrofoam and bubble wrap), as well as reducing the package size by minimizing materials inside, condensing or nesting products, and exploring other space-saving solutions. 

3. Optimize for additional incentives

Once your packaging meets one tier of certification requirements, you can improve the design even further or create new packaging that meets the next highest level of certification. 

Sortable ASINs can’t increase in overall size, but Non-Sortable ASINs can increase by 10% if it allows the product to ship in its own container. And with Amazon’s new incentive structure, the more you reduce package size, the more you earn. 

4. Test again, and enroll your certification

Next, it’s time to complete performance tests again with your new package. Once it passes Amazon’s required tests (drop sequence, ISTA 6-Amazon, etc.), you will upload your certification to Amazon’s Vendor Central.

A partner for support through every step

Looking for a hand with FFP testing and optimization, or not sure where to start? Veritiv can help. We’re proud to be a part of the APASS Network of companies approved by Amazon to provide support for each step of FFP certification. 

“The Frustration-Free Packaging program can be complex to navigate. We’re here to make it easier,” Given says. “Veritiv specializes in designing and validating engineered solutions. We not only help with testing for FFP, but also with making improvements to achieve certification, minimize waste, maximize efficiency and savings, and elevate the customer experience.”

Learn more and start the FFP certification or optimization process at