Annette M. McCormack
2929 Walker Ave. N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49544
RE: Country of origin marking of golf components.
Dear Ms. McCormack:
This is in response to your letter dated September 30, 1997, in which you requested a ruling on the country of origin and marking of various combinations of components imported from China and assembled in the United States to make golf club sets.
You state that in one case you are importing golf heads, graphite shafts and grips and assembling and packaging these components in the U.S. The finished article is described as the War Eagle 11 pc - All Graphite Set, Code #874630. In a second instance, wood and iron heads and grips are imported from China and assembled or processed in the U.S with a U.S origin club shaft. This article is described as the Classic 7 pc Golf Set, Code #880168. Finally, you intend to import heads and grips and combine them with shafts and a golf bag of U.S. origin, creating a set of four clubs and a golf bag, describing this set as a Jr. Classic Golf Set, Code #874017. In each case, the assembly process includes cutting the shaft, reaming the head, epoxing the head to the shaft, adding the ferrule and packaging the sets for sale at retail.
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 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. Part 134 , Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and the exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.
Section 134.1(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(b)), defines "country of origin" as the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S. 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 laws and regulations. The case of U.S. v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc. 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (C.A.D. 98) (1940) provides that an article used in manufacture which results in an article having a name, character or use differing from that of the constituent article will be considered substantially transformed. See 19 CFR 134.35(a). In such circumstances, if the manufacturer or processor in the U.S. substantially transforms (converts or combines)the imported article into a different article, the manufacturer or processor will be considered the ultimate purchaser and the article shall be excepted from marking. However, the outermost container of the imported articles are required to be marked with their country of origin.
Here, in the case of the Classic 7 pc Golf Set, Code #880168, and the Jr. Classic Golf Set, Code #874017, the issue is whether the assembly of golf clubs from foreign-manufactured club heads and grips effects a substantial transformation, such that your company is the ultimate purchaser of the heads and grips thereby excepting them from country of origin marking. Customs has previously addressed these circumstances in several rulings and decided in the affirmative. In ORR 824-70 (August 24, 1970), we ruled that a manufacturer who purchased imported golf club heads, whether finished or unfinished, and assembled them with shafts and grips of U.S. origin into finished golf clubs, was the ultimate purchaser of the imported heads. Provided Customs officials are satisfied that the imported heads and grips will be used by an original equipment manufacturer, they may be excepted from individual country of origin marking. To the same effect were Customs Headquarters (HQ) ruling letter 733151 dated September 11, 1990, HQ 734136 dated June 17, 1991, and HQ 735192 of June 8, 1994, wherein Customs concluded that imported golf club heads which were used to produce finished golf clubs in the U.S. using U.S.-origin shafts were excepted from the country of origin marking requirements since the golf club heads were substantially transformed in the U.S by the golf club manufacturer.
A different conclusion was reached in HQ 734256 dated July 1, 1992, where both of the major components of the club, i.e., the head and the shaft, were of foreign origin, as is the case involving your Code #874630, War Eagle 11 pc-All Graphite Golf Set. In HQ 734256, Customs stated that since the most important components were foreign and the assembly process was very simple
there was no substantial transformation of the shafts and heads.
Consistent with these rulings, we find that the War Eagle Set, Code #874630, assembled in the U.S. using foreign made heads and shafts (and grips), is subject to the country of origin marking requirements since there is no substantial transformation of the imported components in the U.S. An acceptable marking to indicate China as the country of origin would be, for example, "components made in China, assembled in the U.S."
In the case of the Classic 7 pc Golf Set, Code #880168, and the Jr. Classic Golf Set, Code #874017, the addition of a major U.S. component, the shaft, in the U.S. and possibly a minor foreign component, the grip, to produce the completed Classic golf clubs effects a substantial transformation of the imported head (and grip). Therefore, your company is the ultimate purchaser of the golf club heads (and grips), and pursuant to 19 CFR 134.35 only the outermost containers of the imported heads (and grips) must be marked to indicate their country of origin. The finished golf club is not required to be marked to indicate the origin of the head (or grip). Marking the outermost container in which the heads (and grips) are imported and in which they reach your company would suffice to indicate their country of origin to the ultimate purchaser as provided at 19 CFR 134.32(d).
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 Tom McKenna at 212-466-5475.