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HQ 732809

December 20, 1989

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 732809 NL


Richard G. Seley
Rudolph Miles & Sons, Inc.
4950 Gateway East, P.O. Box 144
El Paso, Texas 79942

RE: U.S.- Origin Corrugated Shipping Cartons Bearing Box Makers' Certificates

Dear Mr. Seley:

This is in response to your letter of October 10, 1989, in which you request a ruling that the Box Maker's Certificate which appears on U.S.- origin corrugated cartons does not trigger the country of origin marking requirements of section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46).


Your firm represents companies which import articles from Mexico in corrugated shipping cartons manufactured in the U.S. Pursuant to U.S. government regulations such cartons are required when used in interstate commerce to display a Box Maker's Certificate (BMC). A sample BMC was submitted.

As required under tariffs submitted for approval by the Interstate Commerce Commission for rail and motor freight transportation (known as Rule 41 and Item 222 respectively) the BMC lists the name of the manufacturer, the performance characteristics of the box, and the city and state of the manufacturer. Within the medallion format of the BMC the words, "BOX CERTIFICATE" clearly identify the BMC as referring only to the box. Rule 41 and Item 222 specify that the BMC shall be displayed on the long panel of the bottom of the carton when made up.

You state that the purpose of the BMC is to provide the performance characteristics of the carton for the benefit of shippers and carriers, and has no other relevance to the shipper, manufacturer, consignee, or product contained in it.

You express concern, however, that the presence of the city
and state name on the BMC might be interpreted by Customs field offices as triggering the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46. In particular, you identify T.D. 86-129, 20 Customs Bulletin 380 (June 26, 1986), a policy statement relating to shoe boxes, as a possible basis for concluding that the BMC triggers 19 CFR 134.46 for the subject cartons. T.D. 86-129 specified that no shoe box would be treated as properly marked if the name of a country or locality other than the country of origin appears anywhere on the shoe box in any context, unless the name of the country of origin, preceded by the words "Made in" or "Product of" appears on the same panel as the name or locality other than the country of origin.

You state that this question has not been raised previously by Customs, and that your clients have not received any marking notices.


Does 19 CFR 134.46 require that if the BMC appears on the bottom of a corrugated shipping carton, the name of the country of origin of the articles imported in the box must appear in close proximity to the BMC?


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) 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. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

To prevent confusion and possible deception of ultimate purchasers, 19 CFR 134.46 requires that in any case in which the name of a city, locality or country other than the country of origin of the article appears on the article or its container, the name of the country of origin, preceded by the words "Made in" or "Product of", shall appear in close proximity and in lettering of at least comparable size.

After consideration of the sample BMC, a review of the applicable precedents, and taking into account the purposes of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR 134.46, it is our opinion that the U.S. locality and state names on the BMC do not present any possibility of confusion to the ultimate purchaser of an article imported in a carton bearing a BMC. Consequently, the presence of a BMC on a corrugated shipping carton does not activate the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 134.46.

The location of the BMC on the bottom of the carton places it at a significant distance from the view of an ultimate purchaser (if he were ever to see the carton at all), such that the information on the BMC would be highly unlikely to influence any purchasing decisions. See, United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 CCPA 297, 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940) (stating that the purpose of the marking statute is to permit the ultimate purchaser to exercise choice on the basis of the country of origin of the article). The self-contained medallion-style design of the BMC itself, together with the words "BOX CERTIFICATE" makes it unmistakable that the BMC refers to the box and not to any articles which it might contain. It is also worthy of note that all the information printed on the BMC is in the English language. In sum, we do not view the BMC as posing any conflict either with statutory requirements or with the statutory purpose.

In several recent rulings we have indicated that geographic names appearing in connection with imported articles do not necessarily trigger the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46. In HQ 732329 (July 29, 1989) we ruled that an address on a warranty card did not pose a risk of confusion or deception to ultimate purchasers. Similarly, in HQ 732816 (November 24, 1989), we ruled that an address printed on the back of a display ticket giving a customer a place to direct questions and guarantee problems created no risk of confusion or deception. The basis of both these rulings was that while the names and addresses, taken alone, would appear to be the kinds of potentially confusing information addressed by 19 CFR 134.46, their context was such that no confusion as to country of origin was conceivable. In our opinion the BMC presents the same circumstances.

A final factor in our conclusion is that the BMC is a required element in interstate railroad and truck tariff filings. Unless a container carrying a BMC is used, a shipper is limited in the damage claims he can bring against a carrier. We are reluctant to cast doubt upon the use of containers whose characteristics meet important regulatory and commercial purposes in the U.S.

Finally, we wish to emphasize that T.D. 86-129 does not conflict with this ruling. T.D. 86-129, by its terms, applies only to footwear and footwear boxes. By way of background, we note that T.D. 86-129 was prompted by particular problems which arose with respect to imported footwear, and for which a strict interpretation of 19 CFR 134.46 was deemed by Customs to be warranted.


The BMC located on the bottom of corrugated shipping cartons does not trigger the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46


Marvin M. Amernick

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