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HQ 734681

October 16, 1992

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734681 KR


Mr. Tim McMillen
Ansell Edmont Industrial Inc.
1300 Walnut Street
Box 6000
Coshocton, OH 43812-6000

RE: Country of origin marking of gloves

Dear Mr. McMillen:

This is in response to your letter dated June 4, 1992, requesting a ruling regarding country of origin marking requirements applicable to industrial work gloves. Samples of the gloves were submitted for examination.


You state that Ansell Edmont Industrial Inc. intends to import gloves from Malaysia. The gloves are currently imported with "Malaysia" stamped in ink on each glove. You state that the ink often bleeds onto the adjoining gloves. Therefore, you wish to import the gloves without the individual marking. Instead you wish to mark the gloves with the country of origin preprinted on a paper band which wraps the gloves in a set of one dozen pairs of gloves. Further, the gloves will be shipped in a carton which will hold one dozen of the packs of one dozen pairs of gloves. The carton will be marked with the country of origin.

The gloves are sold to distributors who then resell the gloves to the industrial market. The gloves are given by the industry to the employee free of charge. You state that the standard unit of marketing for gloves and the smallest unit of packaging, is the dozen pair.


Whether the gloves must be marked individually, or may the pairs of gloves be sold by the dozen wrapped in a paper band which is preprinted with the country of origin?


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 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. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain.

An article is excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d), if the marking of a container of such article will reasonably indicate the origin of such article. This exception is applicable if Customs is satisfied that the marked container in which the article is imported will reach the ultimate purchaser in all reasonably foreseeable circumstances.

Section 134.1(d), Customs Regulations, (19 CFR 134.1(d)), defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. Customs has previously ruled that a plant or concern which purchases gloves for use by its employees is considered the ultimate purchaser, and that the gloves may be excepted from individual country of origin marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d). See C.S.D. 89-89 (March 18, 1989); letter ruling 703319 (May 14, 1974); HQ 729800 (October 10, 1989). It is our opinion that the circumstances you describe are substantially the same, and that the ultimate purchaser of the gloves you import is the industrial concern which provides them free of charge to its employees.

In HQ 731555, July 18, 1988, Customs ruled that metal straps with plastic shrink wrap used to secure refractory bricks were containers for purposes of 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d). See also, HQ 734119, July 15, 1991. In HQ 732793 (December 20, 1989), Customs held that industrial gloves may be excepted from individual marking. These gloves were also sold by sets of one dozen pair and shipped to a distributor prior to sale to the industrial consumer. The major difference between your situation and that in HQ 732793 is that in the prior case the importer sealed the gloves in a polybag with a paper insert stating "TO BE SOLD BY THE DOZEN ONLY....MADE IN TAIWAN R.O.C."

In your case, you wish to mark the dozen gloves with only a paper band with the marking "PRODUCT OF MALAYSIA". The gloves are loose inside the 1 7/8 inch paper band. We find that the band is not sufficiently permanent to mark the gloves. In HQ 732793 supra, the gloves were sealed inside a polybag. The gloves you wish to import may slip out of the paper band, or the paper band is easily ripped leaving the gloves totally loose.

Before granting an exception from individual marking, the district director of Customs at the port of entry must be satisfied that the ultimate purchaser will receive the gloves in their original unopened marked container and that the gloves will be used only as indicated. In this case, the paper band is not sufficiently secure to be certain that the ultimate purchaser will receive the gloves proprly marked. The gloves are too easily removed, and the paper band is too fragile. Further, marking the shipping carton is not sufficient, because although the minimum selling unit may be one dozen, the shipping carton contains one dozen of the dozen pairs. This can be broken down by the distributor prior to reaching the ultimate purchaser. Therefore, the marking on the shipping carton is not sufficient to fulfill the country of origin marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D); 19 CFR 134.32(d). If you alter the packaging of the gloves in accordance with the Customs rulings cited supra, i.e. by placing the gloves in a sealed plastic polybag with the country of origin marked on the packaging or visible inside the packaging, your marking would be acceptable.


The ultimate purchasers of the industrial gloves are the industrial companies which provide the gloves to their employees. The industrial gloves may be excepted from individual marking if the packaging is sufficient to meet the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d). The marked paper band on the submitted sample is not sufficiently secure to assure that the gloves will remain in the same packaging, properly marked, until the gloves reach the employers who provide the gloves free of charge to the employees. However, if the gloves are packaged in plastic polybags, or in some other marked package which satisfies the district director that it will reach the ultimate purchaser intact, the gloves may be excepted from country of origin marking on an individual basis.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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