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HQ 734561

May 7, 1992

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734561 NL


Ms. Ruby Wood, Vice President
Evans and Wood & Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 610005
D/FW Airport, TX 75261

RE: Country of Origin Marking - Wrenches; 19 CFR 134.43; 19 CFR 134.32(d); 19 CFR 134.41(b); 19 CFR 134.44(b).

Dear Ms. Wood:

This is in response to your letter dated March 26, 1992, in which you request a ruling concerning the country of origin marking requirements for a set of wrenches to be imported from Taiwan. Your letter also requested rulings concerning the marking of other handtools, but we understand that you now plan to seek internal advice through the Dallas District with respect to those. Accordingly, this ruling will address only the wrenches.


The articles are four adjustable wrenches in sizes ranging from eight to twelve inches. The wrenches would not be marked with their country of origin, but would be imported in a cardboard box marked "Made in Taiwan" in two locations in lettering of less than 1/4" in height. The words, "4-Piece 6"- 8"-10"-12" Adjustable Wrench" are printed on all four sides and the two ends of the box. There is no indication of the name of any manufacturer or seller. It appears that the box is not sealed; the end flaps may be readily opened to remove the contents. A sample of the carton was submitted for examination.

It is your position that the marking of the carton alone is sufficient. You maintain that the special marking provisions of 134.43, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.43), do not apply if the wrenches are marked on their container in accordance with section 134.32(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.32(d).


Do the special marking requirements of 19 CFR 134.43 apply to these wrenches, and may the marking of its container satisfy the country of origin marking requirements pursuant to 19 CFR


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, permanently, and indelibly as the nature of the article 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. Among the exceptions implemented is 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D), which provides that an article may be excepted from marking if the marking of its container will reasonably indicate its origin to the ultimate purchaser. See 19 CFR 134.32(d).

Special marking requirements for designated articles are set forth at 19 CFR 134.43, which provides:

Articles of a class of kind listed below shall be marked legibly and conspicuously by die stamping, cast- in-the-mold lettering, etching (acid or electrolytic), engraving, or by means of metal plates...: knives, forks, steels, cleavers, clippers, shears, scissors, safety razors, blades for safety razors, surgical instruments, pliers, pincers, nippers, and hinged hand tools for holding and splicing wire, vacuum containers, and parts of the above articles.

Although previous versions of this provision listed both the names of the articles affected and the subheadings under the Tariff Schedule of the United States (TSUS) to which these articles were classified, 19 CFR 134.43 was amended in 1989 to omit the references to the tariff schedule. See T.D. 89-1. Under either provision, the issue is whether the instant wrenches are of a "class or kind" listed by name. In this regard, this office has stated that the provision is to be narrowly construed, and that the special marking requirements apply only to those articles specifically enumerated by name in the regulation. See HQ 733633 (June 3, 1991). Accordingly, we find that the wrenches are not within any "class or kind" of the articles listed in 19 CFR 134.43, and are not subject to its special marking requirements.

However, the country of origin must still be permanent as provided at 19 CFR 134.41(b) and 19 CFR 134.44(b). The former provides that the marking shall be of a degree of permanence sufficient to insure that in any reasonably foreseeable circumstances the marking will remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser unless it is deliberately removed. The marking must survive normal distribution and store handling. With specific reference to labels, 19 CFR 134.44(b) provides that labels or paper stickers must be affixed in a conspicuous place and so securely that unless deliberately removed they will remain on the article while it is in storage or on display and until it is delivered to the ultimate purchaser. It is noted that experience with hand tools of iron or steel has demonstrated that the practice of affixing stickers or labels to such articles has not always served to satisfy the country of origin marking requirements. At times stickers or labels on these articles have tended not to withstand normal handling during shipping and distribution, and thus have not met the standard of permanence for stickers and labels set forth at sections 134.41(b) and 134.44(b), Customs Regulations.

We note also that even articles subject to the special marking requirements of 19 CFR 134.43 may be excepted from individual marking if the marking of their containers will satisfy the requirements of 19 CFR 134.32(d). See HQ 734437 (October 4, 1989); HQ 733301 (August 8, 1990). As in all cases in which this exception is approved, the article must be imported in a properly marked container, and Customs officials must be satisfied that in all reasonably foreseeable circumstances the article will remain in the container until it reaches the ultimate purchaser.

We find that this above-described requirement is not satisfied in this instance. Given that the carton is unsealed, and that its exterior contains no reference to the manufacturer or seller, it is reasonable to assume that either accidentally or deliberately the wrenches could be removed from their marked cartons. Sold in this condition, they would reach the ultimate purchaser without the marking required by 19 U.S.C. 1304.

It is our suggestion that if you wish to avail yourself of the exception provided at 19 CFR 134.32(d), the container should be sealed, such as by blister packing, and the container should be marked with the manufacturer's or seller's name, such that it would be commercially unreasonable to remove the wrenches from their packaging. Packaged in this this manner, Customs officials conducting examination of the merchandise would have reason to find that the article will, in all reasonably foreseeable circumstances, reach the ultimate purchaser in its marked container.


Although imported wrenches are not subject to the special marking requirements of 19 CFR 134.43, the containers in which they are imported do not satisfy the requirements of 19 CFR 134.32(d). The sample containers are not acceptable, in that they are unsealed and do not bear the kinds of commercial labeling which would indicate that in all foreseeable circumstances the wrenches are intended to reach ultimate purchasers in their cartons. Thus, the wrenches are required to be individually marked. The importer is cautioned that while more permanenent marking such as die stamping or engraving is not an absolute requirement, labels will be scrutinized for compliance with 19 CFR 134.41(b) and 19 CFR 134.44(b).


John Durant
Director, Commercial

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