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HQ 734499

June 19, 1992
MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734499 RSD


Ms. Bettie Jo Shearer
Manager, International Department
Entry Division
Wholesale Supply Company
7100 Service Merchandise Drive
P.O. Box 26400
Nashville, Tennessee 37202

RE: Country of origin marking of requirements for weight sets, display items, container marking, 19 CFR 134.22, 19 CFR 134.32(d)

Dear Ms. Shearer:

This is in response to your letter dated January 22, 1992, requesting a ruling on the country of origin marking requirements for a 167 pound weight set. Included in your submission were photographs of the assembled weight set. Subsequently we received a sample of the unassembled weight set in the boxes in which it will be packaged for retail sale.


The Wholesale Supply Company, Inc. (Wholesale) is a subsidiary of the Service Merchandise Company (Service). Wholesale intends to import a 167 pound weight set which it will purchase from a company in Taiwan. The weight set consists of cast iron plates of various weights, 6 collars, which are used to hold the weights, 2 16-inch steel dumbbell bars, and one 6 foot solid steel barbell bar. The weight plates and the collars are made in China and the bars are made in Taiwan. Some of the weight plates are marked with a die-sunk "Made in China." There are no markings on the collars, barbell pole, or dumbbell bars. The weight set is sold unassembled and is intended to be assembled by purchaser.

The weight set is imported in three boxes, each of which is sealed with a strap. Box 1 contains 10 weight plates (China), the 6 collars (China), and the two dumbbell bars (Taiwan). Box 2 contains 2 weight plates (China). Box 1 and 2, which each give a product description and a list of all the components in the weight set, are marked "Made in China". Box 3 which contains the barbell pole (Taiwan), has no writing on it. The weight set is to be shown fully assembled in showrooms so that consumers can examine it prior to purchase. However if the consumer decides to purchase the weight set, he/she will receive it in the three boxes. The weight set also comes with a weight training booklet which is printed in Taiwan and marked on the back with "Printed in Taiwan".

You advise that except for those sets which are displayed already assembled in a Service Merchandise showroom, the weights will remain in their boxes for sale to the retail purchaser in an unassembled fashion. You further advise that your company is the sole distributor of the weight sets and sells them directly to the retail purchaser. Those weights which will be displayed in the showroom will be marked with a hang tag. The tag will specify that the plates and collars are made in China and the poles and bars are made in Taiwan.


Do parts of the weight sets have to be marked with their country of origin if the boxes are properly marked and the displays are marked with a hang tag?


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. Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. 1304 was "that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will." United States v. Friedlaender & Co. 27 C.C.P.A. 297 at 302; C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Articles for which the marking of the containers will reasonably indicate the origin of the article are excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D). For an exception to be granted under 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D), generally the article must be imported in the container and that container must reach the ultimate purchaser unopened. See also 19 CFR 134.32(d).

The issue presented in this case is whether the marking of the retail containers is sufficient in view of the fact that some items will be removed from these containers for display purposes. In HQ 732943, May 11, 1990, (C.S.D. 90-81, 24 Cust.Bul No. 30, November 30, 1990), Customs ruled that importers of ready-to assemble furniture would have to submit to Customs officials, at the time of importation, declarations from their retail distributors that any article or component removed from a marked container would be marked with its country of origin in order to qualify for an exception from country of origin marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d). Customs indicated that this declaration was necessary to assure in the likely event that an article of ready-to-assemble furniture was removed from its marked container and used as a display model, the ultimate purchaser will in all circumstances receive proper indication of the country of origin of the article or its components.

Similarly, in this case, although most of the weight sets are designed to remain in the retail boxes for sale to the ultimate purchaser, some of the sets will be displayed in the importer's showroom stores. Based on the fact that the importer has agreed to mark the items that are removed from the boxes and displayed in their stores with the country of origin by means of a hang tag attached to the weight set, we find that it is unnecessary to mark each individual item with its country of origin. The hang tag attached to the weight set on the display items should indicate that the plates and collars are made in China and the poles and bars are made in Taiwan. A certification that your company will mark the weight sets removed from their boxes for display purposes in this manner must be submitted at the time of entry.

In order for the 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d) exception to apply, the three boxes containing the parts of the weight set must also be properly marked to indicate the country of origin. The present marking on the boxes is inadequate because it does not mention that some of the components in the weight set are made in Taiwan. Each box should be marked to indicate the country of origin of its contents (i.e. Box 1 should state plate and collars made in China, dumbbell bars made in Taiwan; Box 2 should be marked China; and Box 3, Taiwan. The marking should appear in a legible, conspicuous and permanent manner and in close proximity to and in comparable size letters as any U.S. address.

If the boxes are properly marked to indicate the country of origin of the their contents, and the merchandise shown on display in the importer's showroom is also properly marked with a hang tag, then the ultimate purchaser will be apprised of the country of origin of the weight set. It is therefore unnecessary to mark the actual components of the weight sets with the country of origin.

If the weight set components are imported in properly marked boxes and the Customs officials at the port of entry are satisfied that they will be sold by Wholesale only in the manner described above, they may be excepted from marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d). A further condition is that the importer submit the certification described above regarding the marking of the display set.


John Durant, Director

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