Mr. Alvaro Ferreira
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
RE: The country of origin marking of steel tubing from the Dominican Republic
Dear Mr. Ferreira:
In your letter dated July 1, 2021, you requested a ruling for your client, Aldarra Overseas Group, Inc., on whether the proposed country of origin marking is acceptable for imported steel tubing. Photos of the proposed country of origin marking of the tubes were submitted with your request.
The articles in question are described as square, rectangular, and round steel tubing that originates in the Dominican Republic (DR). You state the products will be sold to various steel and construction material distributors for use in various metallic construction and structures including house fences, door and window frames, and frame supports for cyclone fences. Your client has proposed marking the tubes that have a diameter greater than 1.9 inches with a laser printer instead of paint stenciling and marking the tubes that have a diameter of 1.9 inches or less with a tag in lieu of laser printing.
You have requested a ruling for marking only, so this ruling will not address the classification of the imported tubes. 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 (U.S.) 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 U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. 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.
On December 8, 1993, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (``NAFTA'') Implementation Act, Congress amended the country of origin marking provisions on pipe (19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)). Public Law No. 103-182. Section 207(a) of the Act revised the requirements for marking the country of origin for pipes of iron, steel, or stainless steel by adding a fifth acceptable statutory method of marking; continuous paint stenciling. The acceptable methods of marking are die stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching, engraving or continuous paint stenciling. This provision further states that no exception from these marking requirements may be made under 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3) for pipe and pipe fittings. However, if, because of the nature of an article, it is technically or commercially infeasible to mark it by one of the five methods specified, the article may be marked by an equally permanent method of marking or, in the case of small diameter pipe, tube, and fittings by tagging the bundles (19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(2)).
Your client has stated that it "is commercially infeasible for the manufacturer in the DR to mark the steel tubing under consideration by means of any of the five methods specified in 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(1). In the case of die stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching, and engraving, such marking methods would compromise the integrity of the tubing covering, rendering the tubing commercially infeasible for the specific applications for which they are intended and designed. In the case of continuous paint stenciling, the relatively high costs associated with traditional continuous paint stenciling make it commercially infeasibl[e] as a marking option for the steel tubing under consideration." You state that the "manufacturer in the DR would mark the steel tubing using the SmartLase F500 laser printing technology, which is an equally permanent method of marking and conceptually similar to continuous paint stenciling."
This office finds the proposed marking of the imported tube "MADE IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC" by laser printing to be conspicuous, legible and equally as permanent as paint stenciling, thereby satisfying the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134, making it an acceptable country of origin marking for the imported tubes that are greater than 1.9 inches in diameter.
You have indicated that the imported tubing will be sold to various steel and construction material distributors for use in various metallic construction and structures including house fences, door and window frames, and frame supports for cyclone fences. When pipe is imported in material lengths that may be cut to smaller lengths after importation, then the pipe must be marked at intervals that ensure that the country of origin appears on any pipe lengths that are cut from the imported length. Generally, marking at 10 feet intervals is sufficient to ensure that any pipe cut from the imported pipe will contain the country of origin marking. Marking at greater intervals is acceptable as long as the pipe will not be cut into smaller pieces than the laser printed intervals.
You have also requested a determination on whether marking the tubing that is 1.9 inches or less in diameter with a tag is acceptable. Customs has indicated in T.D. 86-15 and in previous rulings that small diameter pipe is considered to have an inner diameter of 1.9 inches or less. Concurring with 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(2) and previous CBP rulings, this office finds that tagging the bundles of pipe with a diameter of 1.9 inches or less, in lieu of laser printing, is an acceptable method of marking.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 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 Angelia Amerson at email@example.com.
Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division