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Merchant Risk

Merchant Alert: Legal Restrictions on Adult Toy Sales


The payments industry is well-aware of high-risk categories such as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and illegal drugs. However, several countries restrict the sale of products that––while risqué––are legal in many places. When onboarding merchants internationally, it is critical to ensure that they comply with the law in all jurisdictions where they offer goods for sale.

Although it may come as a surprise to some, adult toys are illegal in several countries––and in at least one US state. For this reason, some adult toy merchants market their goods as “novelties” or for “educational” use, which may or may not be an adequate fix to circumvent the applicable restrictions. Here are a few examples of jurisdictions that restrict the sale of these products:

  • India: Under Section 292 of India’s Penal Code, “a book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the pruri­ent interest or if its effect.” This has been interpreted to include adult toys.
  • Malaysia: Section 292 of Malaysia’s Penal Code prohibits the sale of “obscene” objects.
  • Maldives: According to the Maldives Custom Service, “pornographic material (including sex toys)” is included in the list of “goods that are banned completely.”
  • Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s customs department prohibits the import of “sexual […] tools, and devices.”
  • Thailand: According to Thai Customs, “pornographic materials” are prohibited from entering the country. This has been interpreted to include adult toys. 
  • United Arab Emirates: Pornographic material is prohibited under Article 362 of the UAE Penal Code. In 2021, a UK reality TV star was nearly arrested when bringing an adult toy into the country.
  • United States: In 1998, Alabama passed the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act, which prohibits the sale of these products. Although the law has been challenged repeatedly––and a similar law has been overturned in Texas––it is still in force.

Though some payment processors do not view the sale of these products as high risk, other payment processors onboard merchants in countries where these products are clearly illegal. G2RS’ Persistent Merchant Monitoring can be configured to flag these products where they violate your Terms of Service.

Need assistance with monitoring these types of merchants? Contact us. We are here to help!