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HQ 734647

July 23, 1992

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734647 RC


Ms. Beverly O'Rourke
M. G. Maher & Company, Inc.
One Canal Place, Suite 2100
New Orleans, LA 70130

RE: Marking Statute, Country of Origin; Surveying Instruments; Customs Regulations 134.32(d), Container Marking; Catalogue Sales.

Dear Ms. O'Rourke:

This is in response to your letter of May 18, 1992, requesting a ruling on acceptable methods of marking imported surveying equipment in order to comply with Customs requirements.


Your client, Forestry Suppliers, imports surveying instruments, for measuring slopes, angles, distances, etc., from various countries, i.e. Japan, Switzerland, W. Germany, United Kingdom, etc.

The surveying instruments are sold in the United States by catalogue. They are imported in plain boxes, labeled by number, and stored in bins. A customer refers to the catalogue when placing an order, then selects an item by number and makes payment, after which, the order is shipped to the customer. Customers often come to the warehouse and make catalogue purchases there.

Samples of two different surveying instruments have been submitted for a ruling. Each has its own leather carrying case and shipping box. The boxes are not sealed. The instruments will be shipped to customers as imported, after being packed into sturdier boxes for safe receipt.

In your telephone call of June 3, 1992, you stated that the leather cases are produced in the same country as the surveying instruments.


Whether the surveying instrument, the leather case, and the shipping box must all be marked to indicate the country of origin or whether it would be sufficient to mark any of the three alone.


Article Marking

The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) 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 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.

Assuming the box and the leather case contain no misleading markings, pursuant to the above-mentioned statute, it is permissible to mark the country of origin on the surveying instrument alone without also marking the box and the case. This is because the cardboard box and the leather case may be readily removed. Even though the box and case would obscure the marking on the instrument, the ultimate purchaser would see the marking on the article itself with little effort. Also, it is likely that the ultimate purchaser would remove the instrument to inspect it. However, your submitted samples are not marked, therefore, we cannot issue a ruling on any particular marking. We would have to consider whether or not the country of origin marking is legible, conspicuous, and permanent.

Container Marking Exception

According to section 134.32(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.32(d)), an article is excepted from marking if the marking of the article's container will reasonably indicate the origin of such article. In addition, Customs must be satisfied that in all foreseeable circumstances the article will reach the ultimate purchaser in a properly marked container.

1. The Box

Your letter indicates that the importer is considering marking the cardboard boxes in lieu of the surveying instruments or their leather cases. The submitted sample boxes do not appear to be containers of the type that would normally be sold at retail. The cardboard is plain and not durable. There are no markings other than the catalogue number. The boxes are not sealed and can be easily opened. Customs is not convinced that the articles will necessarily remain in the original shipping boxes until they reach the ultimate purchaser. Therefore, marking only the cardboard boxes would be insufficient.

2. The Leather Case

Your letter indicates that the importer is considering marking the leather cases in lieu of the surveying instruments. The submitted sample leather cases are designed for specific surveying instruments. The cases and the instruments are made in the same country and imported together. Customs can be reasonably assured that the instruments will remain in the leather cases until they reach the ultimate purchaser. For these reasons, we are of the opinion that if the leather cases are properly marked with the country of origin, this would be sufficient to satisfy the marking requirements.

Furthermore, given the fact that the leather cases are made in the same country as the surveying instruments, the marking of the instruments or leather cases alone should suffice to inform the ultimate purchaser of the country of origin of both the surveying instruments and the leather cases.


It is necessary to mark either the surveying instrument or the leather case. It is not necessary to mark both. Marking the cardboard box alone is insufficient.


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