Steven B. Zisser
Zisser Customs Law Group
9355 Airway Rd.
San Diego, CA 92154

RE: The country of origin and marking of loudspeakers

Dear Mr. Zisser:

In your letter dated October 27, 2022, you requested a country of origin ruling on behalf of your client, Sound United, LLC.

The items concerned are three different types of loudspeakers identified as Atrium Series outdoor speakers, Signature Elite Series speakers, and DB Series vehicle speakers.

Atrium Series speakers are all weather outdoor loudspeakers with drivers, tweeters, and power port bass venting. The speakers are produced in Vietnam from Chinese and Vietnamese components. The main components such as tweeter, woofer, crossover (PCBA) are manufactured and assembled in Vietnam using the Chinese components.

Signature Elite Series is a collection of Hi-Res Audio Certified and Dolby Atmos compatible loudspeakers. These speakers consist of three floor-standing tower speakers, two center channel speakers, two bookshelf models and a wall-mountable surround speaker well suited for height channels in an immersive surround system. This speaker system is manufactured in Indonesia using components sourced from China and Indonesia. The main components such as tweeter, woofer, Crossover (PCBA) are assembled in Indonesia using Chinese components.

DB Series speakers are designed to be premium vehicle speakers with IP56 waterproof rating and Marine certification. They are used in automobiles, motorcycles, boats, and ATVs. These speakers consist of several key components such as a tweeter, woofer, crossover (PCBA) which are manufactured and assembled in Indonesia using components of Chinese origin.

A complete manufacturing process description and explanation has been provided.

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 "country of origin" is defined in 19 CFR 134.1(b) 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 this part; however, for a good of a NAFTA country, the NAFTA Marking Rules will determine the country of origin."

For tariff purposes, the courts have held that a substantial transformation occurs when an article emerges from a process with a new name, character or use different from that possessed by the article prior to processing. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 CCPA 267, C.A.D. 98 (1940); National Hand Tool Corp. v. United States, 16 CIT 308 (1992), aff'd, 989 F. 2d 1201 (Fed. Cir. 1993); Anheuser Busch Brewing Association v. The United States, 207 U.S. 556 (1908) and Uniroyal Inc. v. United States, 542 F. Supp. 1026 (1982).

However, if the manufacturing or combining process is merely a minor one that leaves the identity of the article intact, a substantial transformation has not occurred. Uniroyal, Inc. v. United States, 3 CIT 220, 542 F. Supp. 1026, 1029 (1982), aff'd, 702 F.2d 1022 (Fed. Cir. 1983). Substantial transformation determinations are based on the totality of the evidence. See Headquarters Ruling (HQ) W968434, date January 17, 2007, citing Ferrostaal Metals Corp. v. United States, 11 CIT 470, 478, 664 F. Supp. 535, 541 (1987).

Based upon the facts presented, it is the opinion of this office that the manufacturing process that takes place in Vietnam and Indonesia substantially transform the parts and components of Chinese origin. The various components are transformed into a different article with a new name, character, and use. They lose their separate identities and become an integral part of a new article as a result of the manufacturing process that takes place in Vietnam and Indonesia. Therefore, based on the facts presented, the country of origin, for marking purposes, of the Atrium Series speakers will be Vietnam and the country of origin, for marking purposes, for the Signature Elite Series and DB Series speakers will be Indonesia at the time of importation into the United States. The Atrium Series speakers, the Signature Elite Series speakers, and DB Series speakers should be legibly, conspicuously, and permanently marked in accordance with the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 to indicate the country of origin.

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 Steven Pollichino at [email protected]


Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division