MAR-05 RR:TC:SM 559392 KKV
Craig A. Koenigs, Esq.
O'Connor & Hannan
1919 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-3483
RE: Country of origin marking for barelled actions from Belgium;
rifles; firearms; substantial transformation; HRL 558849; C.S.D.
80-111; C.S.D. 85-25; C.S.D. 89-110; C.S.D. 89-118; C.S.D.
89-129; C.S.D. 90-97
Dear Mr. Koenigs:
This is in response to your letter dated August 15, 1995, on
behalf of Bricklee Trading Company, which requests a ruling
regarding the correct country of origin designation for marking
and duty purposes of certain Mauser type barreled actions from
Belgium. No sample has been submitted for our examination.
You indicate that your client wishes to import certain
Mauser type barreled actions from Belgium in a variety of hunting
calibers. We are informed that the barreled actions are
completed rifles without rifle stocks. The barelled actions are
manufactured in Belgium by E. Dumoulin and Co. from a series of
components consisting of trigger mechanisms from England or
Belgium, trigger guards from Spain, screws from Belgium and rifle
barrels from the United States, as well as incomplete bolt
assemblies, bolt stop assemblies and receivers from China.
We are informed that the processes which take place in
Belgium to create the barreled actions are as follows:
A. The components of the bolt assemblies and
incomplete receivers are gathered together and
visually checked for defects and gauged to
determine if they meet specifications. In
addition, the components are Rockwell tested for
B. After the initial checking and gauging, the
various bolt assembly and receiver components are
assembled to form the completed bolt assembly
units and completed receivers.
C. The bolt assemblies must be fitted to operate
properly. Any rough edges on the assemblies must
be removed by hand. Once the edges have been
filed, the entire bolt assembly operates smoothly.
The polishing is done by hand using a series of
different grade polishes and fine emery/crocus
D. The receivers also must be fitted to function
properly. The fitting is accomplished by honing
machines. Once the receivers have been fitted,
they are hand polished in the same manner as the
bolt assemblies through the application of a
series of different grade polishes and finishing
with fine emery/crocus cloth.
E. After the receivers have been fitted and polished,
they must have the various markings stamped into
the frame. These marks include the manufacturer's
marks, the country of origin and the serial
F. Barrels for the action are fabricated from bar
stock and drilled, honed, rifled and chambered by
one of three different methods: broaching,
buttoning or hammer process. The chambers of the
barrels are separately machined and the barrels
are threaded and contoured.
G. Once the barrels are fabricated, they are mounted
to the receivers, working to tight tolerances to
achieve proper head space. Mounting the barrels
involves the following steps:
1. The barrel is mounted in special
barreling vise (having contoured jaws to
mate with barrel contours).
2. A receiver is hand threaded onto the
barrel until hand tight.
3. The receiver is brought to "witness" (or
correct tightness) by use of a special
fitted receiver wrench.
4. The bolt assembly is remounted and the
bolt is closed with the head space gauge
in place (in the barrel chamber). If
the bolt closes to the correct
dimension, then the barreling operation
However, because barrel chambers are traditionally
manufactured with "shy" chamber dimensions,
usually it is necessary to "finish chamber" by
cutting out any excess metal blocking the chamber.
This is accomplished by removing the bolt
mechanism, inserting a chamber reamer (on an
extension handle) into cutting oil and then into
the receiver and the barrel chamber. A light cut
is made and the reamer is withdrawn. Then, the
chamber is cleared of chips with compressed air.
Subsequently, the bolt assembly is replaced into
the receiver. The head space gauge is placed into
the chamber to take the measurement. If head
space is correct, then the barreling is completed.
If measurement is not correct, then the process
must be repeated.
H. Once the barreled actions have been assembled,
they are sent to the Belgian Government Proof
House in Liege, Belgium to be tested and checked
for correct tolerances. The proofing consists of
a visual inspection to look for imperfections and
a series of test firing with special proof
cartridges to determine proper functioning and
strength. If the action meets the proofing
requirements, the barrel and receiver of each unit
is stamped with proof marks and a caliber
I. After the barreled actions are proofed, they are
sent for bluing. The complete barreled action is
final-polished and racked in bluing baskets which
are used to carry the units through the bluing
process, which consists of:
1. Vapor de-grease.
2. Hot water rinse.
3. Bluing solution dip and boil.
4. Hot water rinse.
5. Second post-bluing hot water rinse.
6. Dip in water displacing fluid,
7. Dip in light oil and drain.
J. Upon completion of the preliminary assembly,
finishing procedures and bluing, the barreled
actions undergo final assembly, with the trigger
mechanisms being screwed into position and
function tested. The trigger guard assemblies are
screwed into place and function tested with dummy
cartridges. The original bolt mechanism (which is
proofed with the barreled action) is remounted.
K. Finally, the barreled actions are packed for
consumer receipt. Each barreled action is
individually packed in a consumer carton (by hand)
and printed with its contents. Each carton is
marked with information stating the model, caliber
and serial number of the barreled action. In
addition, a brochure explaining the use,
disassembly, parts list and safety information is
placed in each carton. The individual unit
cartons are then boxed in master boxes containing
six to ten units and prepared for delivery.
What is the country of origin of the completed barreled
action that is processed in the manner described above?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19
U.S.C.1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of
foreign origin imported into the United States shall be marked in
a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the
nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a
manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United
States the English name of the country of origin of the article.
Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. 1304 was "that the
ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the
marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is
the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at
the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where
the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if
such marking should influence his will." United States v.
Friedlaender & Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 297, 302 (1940). Part 134 of the
Customs Regulations implements the country of origin marking
requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section
134.41(b), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the United
States must be able to find the marking easily and read it
"Country of origin" is defined in section 134.1(b), Customs
the country of manufacture,
production, or growth of any
article of foreign origin entering
the United States. Further work or
material added to an article in
another country must effect a
substantial transformation in order
to render such other country the
"country of origin" within the
meaning of this part.
A substantial transformation is said to have occurred when
an article emerges from a manufacturing process with a name,
character, or use which differs from the original material
subjected to the process. Texas Instruments, Inc. v. United
States, 631 F.2d 778, 782 (CCPA 1982).
In this case, the processing in Belgium consists of assembly
and finishing operations as well as a chemical treatment. In
determining whether the assembly of parts or materials
constitutes a substantial transformation, the issue is the extent
of operations performed and whether the parts lose their identity
and become an integral part of the new article. See, Uniroyal
Inc. v. United States, 3 CIT 220, 542 F. Supp. 1026 (CIT 1982),
aff'd, 702 F.2d 1022 (Fed. Cir. 1983). Assembly operations which
are minimal or simple, as opposed to complex or meaningful, will
generally not result in a substantial transformation. See,
C.S.D. 80-111, C.S.D.85-25, C.S.D. 89-110, C.S.D. 89-118,
C.S.D.89-129 and C.S.D.90-97.
Customs has previously discussed the assembly and finishing
of firearms in determining whether a substantial transformation
has occurred. Most recently, in Headquarters Ruling Letter
558849, dated March 29, 1995, Customs determined Chinese pistol
components were substantially transformed into a firearm of
German origin after having undergone a complex assembly process
in Germany which included the manufacture of two significant
components as well as the assembly of more than 40 pieces,
chemical treatment, polishing and engraving in order to produce
the finished article.
Likewise, in the instant case, the assembly operations
undertaken in Belgium are of a highly complex and intricate
nature, requiring the expertise and precision of trained
technicians to complete the assembly of 28 pieces, so as to
ensure compliance with specifications. The failure to comply
with these high standards may put the user of the firearm at
risk. Upon review, Customs finds that the operations at issue in
which the subject parts (from the U.S., Belgium, England, Spain
and China) are incorporated into barreled actions substantially
transforms the parts into an article of Belgian origin.
The complex assembly of the barelled actions, as discussed
above, constitutes a substantial transformation. Accordingly,
the country of origin of the barreled actions to be imported into
the United States is Belgium. The article shall be marked
pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304 and part 134, Customs Regulations (19
CFR Part 134).
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry
documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the
documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be
brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the
Tariff Classification Division