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HQ 733351

April 15, 1991

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 733351 EAB


Robert T. Givens, Esquire
950 Echo Lane, Suite 360
Houston, Texas 77024

RE: Country of origin marking of cardboard box container made in U.S. for export and return containing foreign articles; U.S. address; boxmaker's certificate; 19 U.S.C. 1304; 15 U.S.C. 1125; 19 CFR 134.46; 19 CFR 11.13; 19 CFR 134.22(c); 19 CFR 10.22; HTSUS 9802.00.80; 732809

Dear Mr. Givens:

This is in reply to your letter dated April 24, 1990, requesting on behalf of Filter Control, Inc. a ruling concerning the proper country of origin marking of a U.S. manufactured cardboard box that is intended to be exported to Mexico, packed, sealed and returned to the U.S. The imported articles may be either wholly U.S. goods or a mixture of Mexican and U.S. goods.


Filter Control, Inc., uses a cardboard box made in the U.S. to import individually marked machine filters that have been assembled in Mexico of U.S. or U.S. and foreign components.

Stamped only on the bottom of each rectangular box is a boxmaker's certificate, which discloses, in part, the name and address of the U.S. manufacturer of the box. This certificate is required by Item 222-1, National Motor Freight Classification Tariff, a voluntary standard to which members of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, Inc. subscribe. Also on the bottom of each box, within 2.5" of the certificate, is the proposed marking "CONTENTS PRODUCT OF MEXICO", which will be in quarter-inch lettering of the same size in contrasting color as the name and U.S. address of the boxmaker; the identification of the boxmaker is specified in Item 222-1, supra. On each long side of each box will be stenciled in 1/4" letters: "CUSTOM ASSEMBLED IN MEXICO" below the warning, "FRAGILE".

You are of the opinions that the foregoing proposed markings are in conformity with 19 CFR 134.46 and are not a violation of 15 U.S.C. 1125.


What are the country of origin marking requirements of a container that must bear a box manufacturer's certificate?


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.

In HQ 732809 (December 20, 1989), Customs ruled that the U.S. locality and state names on the boxmaker's certificate (BMC) placed on the bottom of the box, do not present any possibility of confusion to the ultimate purchaser of an article imported in a box bearing such a certificate. Located on the bottom of the box, the BMC would be a significant distance from the view of any ultimate purchaser and highly unlikely to influence any purchasing decisions. We held that the boxmaker's certificate located on the bottom of corrugated shipping cartons does not trigger the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46. In other words, it is not necessary to stencil or print any country of origin marking of the foreign article in close proximity to the boxmaker's certificate that appears on the bottom of a box. If, however, you wish to do so, then, from the sample submitted, we find that the country of origin marking that you propose, i.e., "CONTENTS PRODUCT OF MEXICO", would be in compliance with 19 CFR 134.46. It is in close proximity to the U.S. address, and it is in comparable size letters.

Section 1125, Title 15, U.S. Code (15 U.S.C. 1125), implemented in 19 CFR 11.13, subjects to civil liability any person who shall apply to any container a false designation of origin (15 U.S.C. 1125(a)) or any false description or representation, and permits the refusal of entry or seizure of such goods (15 U.S.C. 1125(b)).

Because the boxmaker's certificate (which includes a U.S. address) on the bottom of the box does not present any possibility of confusion to the ultimate purchaser with regard to the origin of the product, we do not consider such certificate to constitute a false designation of origin or false description within the meaning of this provision.

The proposed marking "Custom Assembled in Mexico" is an acceptable country of origin marking under the provisions of 19 U.S.C. 1304, provided the machine filters are entitled to a partial exemption from duty under subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. (HTSUS). See 19 CFR 10.22 and HQ 733713 (November 14, 1990). The stenciled country of origin marking on each long side of the box in 1/4" letters are sufficiently sufficiently permanent, legible and conspicuous.


Indicating the foreign origin of articles on the bottom of a U.S. made box in close proximity to the boxmaker's certificate is not required by 19 CFR 134.46 or 15 U.S.C. 1125.

The phrase "Custom Assembled in Mexico" is an acceptable country of origin marking for articles that are eligible for entry under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS that may be assembled of entirely U.S. components or that may be of Mexican origin.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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