United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1992 HQ Rulings > HQ 0734443 - HQ 0950036 > HQ 0734487

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 734487

May 7, 1992

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734487 RSD


Mr. Fred Koose, President
ZVL-ZKL Bearings Corporation
805 South Girls School Road
Indianapolis, Indiana 46231-1133

RE: Country of origin marking for bearings made in Czechoslovakia with the abbreviation CSFR; Czech, Czecho, abbreviations; 19 CFR 134.45(b); American Burtonizing Co. v. United States, 13 CT. Cust. Appls, 652 (1926), HQ 728267, 729736

Dear Mr. Koose:

This is in response to your letter dated January 24, 1992, requesting a ruling on an abbreviation for Czechoslovakia. You attached a copy of Department of Commerce publication to your submissions.


ZVL-ZKL Bearings Corporation is a joint venture between Consolidated Purchasing Overseas, Inc. and a consortium of bearing manufacturing plants in Czechoslovakia. You indicated that you hold an exclusive master distribution agreement to distribute the bearings in the North American market. Presently, each bearing case is marked, "Made in Czechoslovakia", except for larger bearing sizes which have individual labels seals inside the plastic bearing wrapper.

You state that the official name of Czechoslovakia has been changed to Czech Slovak Federal Republic or the abbreviation "CSFR". You have attached a copy of a publication from the Department of Commerce indicating that the new official name of Czechoslovakia is Czech Slovak Federal Republic or CSFR.

You request approval of the marking "CSFR" to indicate their country of origin. You have imported thus far approximately 2.2 million units, most of which are die stamped with CSFR to indicate the country of origin. The die stamping is done prior to heat treating when the steel is relatively soft. You indicate that after heat treating, it is virtually impossible to re-stamp the product. You further indicate that to change the marking to comply with the approved country of origin designation will be cost prohibitive.

Is the marking "CSFR" an acceptable abbreviation for the country name Czechoslovakia?


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 container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the name of the country of origin of the article (emphasis added). Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

The requirement of the marking law (19 U.S.C. 1304) at issue here is the necessity to indicate the English name of the country of origin of articles imported into the U.S. Section 134.45 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.45), states that abbreviations which unmistakably indicate the name of a country ...are acceptable.

The purpose of the marking as explained in American Burtonizing v. United States, 13 Ct. Cust. Appls. 652 (1926) "[W]as to require a marking such as would be understood by purchasers of foreign-made goods as giving definite and reliable information as to the country of origin. It is not reasonable to suppose that Congress, by use of the word 'indicate' meant only that words used should hint at the country of origin. The object sought to be obtained by the legislature could best be obtained by an indication which was clear, plain, and unambiguous and which did more than merely hint at the country of origin. We do not think that Congress intended that American purchasers, consumers, or users of foreign-made goods should be required to speculate, investigate or interpret in order that they ascertain the country of origin."

Customs has been very stringent in approving the use of abbreviations to ensure that an abbreviation unmistakably indicates the country of origin to an ultimate purchaser of a product. The fact that an abbreviation is the official abbreviation for a country is not enough. It must unmistakably identify the country of origin to the ultimate purchaser. In this case, the use of the abbreviation "CSFR" would not unmistakably identify the country of origin to the ultimate purchaser. Despite the recent change in the official name of Czechoslovakia, it has not become widely enough known in the U.S. for consumers to recognize that the marking "CSFR" is an abbreviation for Czechoslovakia. In all likelihood the ultimate purchasers of the bearings would not be able to determine the country of origin of the bearings by seeing the marking "CSFR". Consequently, "CSFR" is not an acceptable abbreviation for Czechoslovakia.

Customs realizes that compliance with the marking statute is rendered difficult as there is no readily apparent acceptable abbreviation for the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and the length of both the official name of the country and the full spelling of "Czechoslovakia" is too long, form a practical perspective, for purposes of country of origin marking. Customs has previously approved the abbreviation Czech or Czecho. See HQ 728267 (August 2, 1985) and HQ 729736 (August 1, 1986). These remain acceptable markings.

You indicate that changing your marking on the bearings to reflect the full name, Czechoslovakia, would be cost prohibitive. In order to obtain an exception from country of origin marking on this basis, you must furnish specific evidence, including cost figures, that it would be economically prohibitive to adjust the marking on the bearings to the full name Czechoslovakia or either of the approved abbreviation.


The abbreviation, "CSFR" for the country name Czechoslovakia does not unmistakably indicate the country of origin, and therefore is not acceptable.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling