MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:233 C85687
Mr. Mauricio Hodgson
5448 Hoffner Avenue, Suite 403
Orlando, FL 32812
RE: THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN MARKING OF HEMATINE RINGS.
Dear Mr. Hodgson:
This is in response to your letter dated March 16, 1998, on behalf of Village Originals, Inc., requesting a ruling on whether imported hematine rings are required to be individually marked with the country of origin.
The rings will be imported in plastic bags containing approximately 100 rings per bag. Inside of the bag is a label which reads, "Hematine Rings (made in China) Assorted Sizes 5-10". The individual pieces are not marked. After importation, the rings will be sold through the following methods: 1) At wholesale, where the importer will notify his customers of marking requirements for them to proceed accordingly. A sample of Village Original's invoice was submitted which states: "All items must be displayed with the country of origin visible to the ultimate consumer. Additional labels provided upon request."; and 2) At retail, where the rings will be placed and displayed in a container (a decorated small basket) with a label similar to the one enclosed in the plastic bag. A marked sample was submitted with your letter for review.
The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. The primary purpose of the country of origin marking statute 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, C.A.D. 104 (1940).
Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Section 134.1(d), defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported.
With regard to the permanency of a marking, section 134.41(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(a)), provides that as a general rule marking requirements are best met by marking worked into the article at the time of manufacture. For example, it is suggested that the country of origin on metal articles be die sunk, molded in, or etched. However, section 134.44, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.44), generally provides that any marking that is sufficiently permanent so that it will remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser unless deliberately removed is acceptable.
Indelible marking, however, is not the only means by which jewelry may be marked with origin. Customs normally permits any reasonable method of marking that will remain on the article during handling and until it reaches the ultimate purchaser. This includes the use of paper stickers or pressure sensitive labels and string tags. If paper stickers or pressure sensitive labels are used, section 134.44, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.44), provides that they must be affixed in a conspicuous place and in a secure enough manner so that unless deliberately removed, they will remain on the article while it is in storage or on display and until received by the ultimate purchaser.
Customs has ruled that the placing of signs with the country of origin could be an acceptable method of marking where the importer had direct control. In this case, Village Originals does not have direct control and Customs cannot be assured that the signs will actually be placed on the baskets. Therefore, the proposed marking of the hematine rings as described above, does not satisfy the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Lawrence Mushinske at 212-466-5739.
Robert B. Swierupski