Ms. Stephania Bonnet
Sobel Network Shipping Co., Inc.
100 North Centre Avenue, Suite 302
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
RE: The country of origin marking of toothbrushes from China.
Dear Ms. Bonnet:
In your letter dated May 25, 2021, you requested a marking ruling on behalf of your client, Donnamax, Inc.
An image with potential country of origin marking examples was submitted in lieu of samples.
The marking under consideration will be for manual toothbrushes that will be imported in retail-ready packaging. Per your correspondence, the toothbrushes will be manufactured in China, using bristles made either in the U.S.A or Germany. The foreign sourced bristles will be inserted into the Chinese-made handle in China. They will come packaged either individually, or in a pack of two, three, or four toothbrushes. In the provided examples, the packaging will be marked "Product of P.R.C." and "Bristles Made in U.S.A" or "Bristles Made in Germany." Next to the origin language may be either a small flag of the U.S.A or Germany. In your submission, you mention the bristles may also be made in Italy and in that circumstance could feature an Italian flag.
In your request, you wanted to know if you can add "Bristles Made in Germany," "Bristles Made in Italy," or "Bristles Made in United States" to reflect the country of origin of the bristles.
The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 USC 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.
As provided in 19 CFR 134.41(b), the country-of-origin marking is considered conspicuous if the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. can find the marking easily and read it without strain.
Regarding the permanency of a marking, 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, 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.
As to the country of origin of the toothbrushes, the matter was specifically addressed in United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (1940). The country of origin of toothbrushes was also later ruled upon in Headquarters ruling (HQ) 563036, dated August 9, 2004. As the bristles will be inserted into the handle in China, resulting in a substantial transformation, the country of origin for these toothbrushes will be China.
We note, you currently have these marked as "Product of P.R.C." U.S. Customs and Border Protection has repeatedly found that the abbreviation "PRC" is not acceptable for country of origin marking purposes, see HQ 560693, dated March 6, 1998, HQ 562901, dated November 6, 2003, and HQ W968266, dated September 19, 2006. This should be changed to read Product of China instead.
Further, the presence of symbols, such as flags, associated with a country other than the country of origin may mislead the ultimate purchaser. In this case, the flags should be omitted to avoid confusion, as the country of origin of the toothbrushes would not be the same as the country of origin of the bristles.
To the matter of indicating the origin of the bristles, we refer to 19 CFR 134.46, which addresses marking when the name of a country or locality other than country of origin appears. It states:
In any case in which the words "United States," or "American," the letters "U.S.A.," any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or location in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced appear on an imported article or its container, and those words, letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin of the article, there shall appear legibly and permanently in close proximity to such words, letters or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by "Made in," "Product of," or other words of similar meaning.
In the provided image, the country of origin of the toothbrushes ("Product of [China]") and the origin of the bristles ("Bristles Made in U.S.A." or "Bristles Made in Germany") appear to meet the requirements set forth in 19 CFR 134.46, and we would find it acceptable to add this language.
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 Kristopher Burton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division