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HQ 735049

July 13, 1993
MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 735049 ER


Mr. Joseph B. Castellano
Rudolph Miles & Sons
P.O.Box 2489
Laredo, Texas 78044-2489

RE: Country of Origin Marking for Steel Screws, Plastic Wall Anchors and Plastic Bag Kits; 19 CFR 134.14; T.D. 91-7.

Dear Mr. Castellano:

This is in response to your letter dated December 9, 1992, on behalf of Lux Products Corporation, in which you request a ruling regarding the country of origin marking requirements for certain installation kits containing screws from Taiwan and plastic wall anchors of U.S. origin which are repackaged in the U.S. after importation with thermostats of U.S. origin..


Under the facts presented, Lux Products Corporation will send screws from Taiwan and plastic wall anchors from the U.S. to its Mexican subsidiary to be packaged together inside a plastic bag of U.S. origin. These "installation kits" will then be shipped to the U.S. where Lux Products in Laredo, Texas, will place one installation kit inside a box containing a household thermostat for retail sale. Each installation kit contains four screws and two wall anchors. By ruling dated April 15, 1993, (HQ 935095) Customs found that the installation kits are sets and are classifiable in subheading 7318.15.60, HTSUS, as other screws having shanks or threads with a diameter of less than 6mm. By telephone conversation with you on June 28, 1993, you said that the thermostats are of U.S. origin.


What are the country of origin marking requirements for installation kits containing screws from Taiwan and plastic wall anchors of U.S. origin which are imported from Mexico to be repackaged for retail sale inside a box containing a household thermostat of U.S. 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.

The purpose of the country of origin marking laws "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 CCPA 297, 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940). The "ultimate purchaser" is defined generally as he last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. 19 CFR 134.1(d). If an article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the purchaser at retail is the "ultimate purchaser." 19 CFR 134.1(3).

Screws are on the so-called "J" list of marking exceptions. This list is found under section 134.33, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.33) and provides that "[a]rticles of a class or kind listed [under this section] are excepted from the requirements of country of origin marking in accordance with the provision of section 304(a)(3)(J), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(J). However, in the case of any article described in this list which is imported in a container the outermost container in which the article ordinarily reaches the ultimate purchaser is required to be marked to indicate the origin of its contents ..." The outermost container in which the screws reach the ultimate purchaser are the containers into which the screws and plastic anchors are repackaged in the U.S. with the thermostats. However, for the reasons discussed below, Customs finds that no country of origin marking is necessary in this case.

Regarding imported articles which are combined with other articles after importation but before delivery to an ultimate purchaser, section 134.14, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.14), requires that the marking "shall clearly show that the origin indicated is that of the imported article only and not that of any article with which the imported article may be combined." However, in view of the fact that the screws, which are relatively insignificant items in the set, are the only items of foreign (Taiwanese) origin, we find that the marking requirements ordinarily triggered by this combining operation are unnecessary.

Both the plastic anchors and the thermostat are of U.S. origin. The ultimate purchaser, the consumer at retail, is purchasing the set for the thermostat, not for the Taiwanese screws. In T.D. 91-7 (January 8, 1991), Customs found "that in certain circumstances, the marking of every item in a collection of goods may not be consistent with the purpose of the statute, or may be impractical and/or undesirable. This may be because one or more items in the collection are relatively insignificant and would have no influence on the purchasing decision..." Such are the circumstances in the instant situation. Accordingly, the screws and their containers are excepted from country of origin marking.


Screws of Taiwanese origin and plastic wall anchors of U.S. origin which are packaged together in Mexico and returned to the U.S. to be repackaged in containers containing thermostats of U.S. origin are excepted from country of origin marking at the time of importation and subsequent to the repackaging operations so long as they will be used only in the manner described.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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