OT:RR:CTF:VS H309106 CMR
Translink CHB, Inc.
149-35 177th Street
Jamaica, NY 11434
RE: Country of origin request; Roof Mount Kits and Ground Mount Kits for solar panel installations
Dear Ms. Rampersad:
This is in response to your request, submitted on December 20, 2019, on behalf of your client, SunModo Corporation, for a country of origin determination on roof mount and ground mount kits, which you refer to as "aluminum frame product[s] without solar panels or solar cells," and which are used in the installation of solar panel systems.
You indicate that the imported products consist of aluminum rails, which are made in the Dominican Republic; and, PVC attachments consisting of roof mount flashing kits, rail splices, clamps and rail adaptors which are made in China. Your supplier in Panama purchases the PVC attachments in bulk and matches up attachments with the aluminum rails to create final unassembled roof or ground PV racking kits, i.e., the roof mount or ground mount kits. You state that the unassembled kits are prepped and packaged for shipment. The kits are then loaded onto containers and shipped the SunModo's warehouses in the United States. You note that your supplier performs its work in a Panama Free Trade Zone.
What is the country of origin of the unassembled kits which are sorted and packaged in a Panama Free Trade Zone prior to shipment to the United States?
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 an 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 markings on the imported goods the country of which the good is the product. "The evident purpose is to mark the goods so 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 at 302 (1940).
Part 134, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Regulations (19 C.F.R. 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C.
1304. Section 134.1(b), CBP Regulations (19 C.F.R. 134.1(b)), defines "country of origin" as "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 [the marking regulations]. . . ." 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. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (C.A.D. 98) (1940); Texas Instruments v. United States, 681 F.2d 778, 782 (1982).
In order to determine whether a substantial transformation occurs when components of various origins are assembled into completed products, CBP considers the totality of the circumstances and makes such determinations on a case-by-case basis. The country of origin of the item's components, extent of the processing that occurs within a country, and whether such processing renders a product with a new name, character, and use are primary considerations in such cases. Additionally, factors such as the resources expended on product design and development, the extent and nature of post-assembly inspection and testing procedures, and worker skill required during the actual manufacturing process will be considered when determining whether a substantial transformation has occurred. No one factor is determinative.
In this case, aluminum rails of Dominican Republic origin and PVC attachments are sorted and packaged together in kits by your supplier in Panama. These components are not assembled. Mere packaging of components does not substantially transform any of the components. In this case, the aluminum rails remain aluminum rails and the PVC components remain PVC components. There is no change in name, character or use of any the components of the roof mount or ground mount kits. Thus, each component retains its original origin. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 733301, dated August 8, 1990 (". . . packaging alone is not a substantial transformation
. . . ."); See also, HQ 733729, dated January 2, 1991.
The country of origin of the aluminum rails is the Dominican Republic. The country of origin of the PVC attachments is China.
Please note that 19 C.F.R. 177.9(b)(1) provides that "[e]ach ruling letter is issued on the assumption that all of the information furnished in connection with the ruling request and incorporated in the ruling letter, either directly, by reference, or by implication, is accurate and complete in every material respect. The application of a ruling letter by a CBP field office to the transaction to which it is purported to relate is subject to the verification of the facts incorporated in the ruling letter, a comparison of the transaction described therein to the actual transaction, and the satisfaction of any conditions on which the ruling was based."
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time the goods are entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy of this ruling, it should be brought to the attention of the CBP officer handling the transaction.
Monika R. Brenner, Chief
Valuation & Special Classification Branch
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20229
U.S. Customs and Border Protection