What Is A Return Authorization Number & How Does It Work?

Returns are inevitable in the eCommerce world. A return authorization (RA) number or a return merchandise authorization (RMA) number is an ID used to facilitate the return of a package.

This number is used by most eCommerce companies or small-time sellers on Amazon. It serves as a middleman between the buyer and the seller to ensure the process goes smoothly.

In this article, I will explain a return authorization number and why it is used.

How does the return authorization number work?

As mentioned earlier, a return authorization number is an ID number that designates each authorized return transaction. When a return or replacement is requested by the buyer, it follows certain steps, depending on the service used.

Usually, the return authorization request is sent to the seller or merchant. This form will outline the reason for the return and what the return package is expected to contain.

The RA form is then used by the seller to process the return, afterwards, a return authorization number is assigned to that request.

Next, the number is sent to the customer, highlighting the next course of action. The customer will then send the item back to the seller for them to verify it contains what it is supposed to.

Afterward, the seller inspects the package, taking note of its condition. This is an essential step in quality control and in calculating restocking fees.

After all necessary steps have been taken, the seller comes with the final verdict. The verdict is passed on to the customers, and either a refund, a replacement, or a repaired product is issued.

Why is the return authorization number important?

The RA number facilitates the entire return process. It is helpful to both the buyer and the seller. Below are the purposes of the return authorization number.

1. Serves as a return tracking tool

The RA number serves both the buyer and the seller. It ensures that only authorized packages are allowed to be returned.

2. Analyzing the reason for a return

As I mentioned earlier, when a return is initiated, Amazon will contact the seller about the return. Usually, a reason for the return is included in the request. This whole process helps the seller monitor return rates and reasons for return.

This helps the seller know where the issue originates and understand better how to serve other customers.

3. Identify unpaid reimbursements

After the process is complete, the RA number allows the sender to identify unpaid reimbursements. Since they handle different orders, there has to be a way to track returns and issue credit or refunds to the right customer.


Where can you find the authorization number?

You can find this number on the return mailing label or the return authorization slip sent by the seller.

What is the difference between the authorization number and the tracking number?

RA authorizes the return of an order, while the tracking number tracks the movement of an order.

Why is a return authorization number needed?

Returns are not accepted without authorization numbers.

Do you get a refund after an authorization number is sent?

Not particularly. Usually, the seller or business that sent the package will have to assign a case resolution This could be either a repair, replacement, or refund.


The process of returning a package carries many hassles, for both the customer and the sender or seller. It comes with various steps that must be taken to rectify the problem and then issue a replacement, repair, or refund.

A customer’s return authorization number is given after a return request has been accepted. This number verifies and issues a refund to the appropriate customer after the package has been inspected.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, if you did, you should also see what tendered to returns agent means and what happens next.

Thanks for reading.