MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734737 RC

Mr. Harvey A. Isaacs, Esq.
Ms. Beth C. Brotman, Esq.
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson, P.C.
1515 Broadway - 43rd Floor
New York, New York 10036

RE: Country of Origin Marking of Drawer Slides; Furniture kits; T.D. 91-7; 19 CFR 134.26; 19 CFR 134.34. Dear Mr. Isaacs and Ms. Brotman:

This is in response to your letter of July 15, 1992, requesting a ruling on the country of origin marking requirements for foreign manufactured drawer slides imported into the U.S. and sold as parts of unassembled furniture kits.


Your client, Hardware Designers, Inc., will import into the U.S. foreign-made drawer slides ("slides") in bulk. The outer box cartons will be marked with their country of origin in lieu of the slides themselves. After importation, the slide sets will be sold to distributors or manufacturers of unassembled furniture kits who will package the unmarked slides in retail boxes containing other furniture components of U.S. origin. The kits will take a variety of forms, from desks to chests of drawers, and will either be sold by mail order or in stores in sealed boxes. The slides will comprise between approximately six and twelve percent (depending upon the furniture item in question) of the total material costs of the furniture kits.


Whether furniture kits containing foreign-made drawer slides must be marked to indicate their country of origin. LAW AND ANALYSIS:

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 the English name of the country of origin of the article. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

Section 134.1(d) defines the "ultimate purchaser" generally as the last person in the United States who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. The marking must be conspicuous to the ultimate purchaser. Here, because the slides would not be used in the manufacture of finished furniture, the ultimate purchaser is the person who buys the furniture kit at retail.

The "country of origin" for marking purposes is defined by section 134.1(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(b)), to mean the country of manufacture, production, or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S.

Neither the marking statute nor the Customs Regulations make any provision for the marking of sets, mixtures or composite goods. In the absence of any special requirements, the general country of origin marking requirements apply, i.e., every article that is imported into the U.S. must be marked to indicate its country of origin as determined by where the article underwent its last substantial transformation. See T.D. 91-7 (dated January 16, 1991). According to T.D. 91-7, "if the materials or components are not substantially transformed as a result of their inclusion in a set or mixed or composite goods, then, subject to the usual exceptions, each item must be individually marked to indicate its own country of origin." Thus, where the slides are installed in furniture prior to retail sale, they are substantially transformed and not subject to marking. Where the slides are sold as separate parts of kits, they may constitute significant components requiring marking. As discussed in T.D. 91-7, Customs will follow a "common sense" approach in determining whether articles of foreign origin imported as parts of kits will be subject to country of origin marking.

In HQ 555365, we found that foreign-made screws when sold with U.S.-made junction boxes were not subject to marking. The reasoning was that in terms of value, the screws constituted an insignificant part of the set, 2.3% of the total value. Here, the slides account for at least six percent and as much as twelve percent of the cost of the finished furniture; this percentage indicates that the value of the slides is not de minimis. It is our opinion that the slides must be marked with their country of origin when included in furniture kits.

The required method of marking the drawer slides must be determined by reference to the condition in which they reach the ultimate purchaser. Here, the ultimate purchaser is the retail purchaser of the furniture kit. It does not appear possible in this instance for Customs to supervise the levels of distribution through which the drawer slides will pass prior to their inclusion in furniture kits, or to be sure that the containers of the kits will be marked to indicate the foreign origin of the drawer slides. For this reason, marking in bulk will not be sufficient. It is necessary to insist that the drawer slides be individually marked at the time of importation in a manner which is legible, conspicuous, and permanent. To the extent stickers are used, they must be affixed so as to remain on the article throughout distribution unless deliberately removed.

Moreover, the importer is subject to the repacking certification requirements of 19 CFR 134.26, so as to give assurance to Customs that the packages containing the furniture kits will be marked to indicate the country of origin of the slides.

In the alternative, as a way of avoiding the necessity of marking each slide, the importer may seek approval of local Customs officials for a repacking operation conducted under Customs supervision as provided under 19 CFR 134.34. We do not have sufficient information, for purposes of this ruling, to determine whether such approval might be appropriate.

HOLDING: The drawer slides must be marked to indicate their country of origin at the time of importation. This conclusion is based upon the finding that the cost of the slides as components of the furniture kits is not de minimis and Customs cannot supervise the levels of distribution through which the slides will pass before their inclusion in the furniture kits. However, this conclusion does not apply to any instance in which the ultimate purchaser uses the slides to assemble finished furniture for retail sale.


John Durant, Director