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HQ 735441

May 17, 1994

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 735441 RSD


Sherry L. Singer, Esq.
Singer and Singh
469 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1300
New York, New York 10018

RE: Country of origin marking for shoe boxes when the shoes are legally marked with the country of origin; 19 CFR

Dear Ms. Singer:

This is in response to your letter dated November 17, 1993, on behalf of J.P. Original Corp., concerning the country of origin marking requirements for shoe boxes when the shoes are properly marked with their country of origin. We regret the delay in responding to your letter. No samples of shoes or the shoe boxes have been received.


Your letter states that J.P. Original Corp., is an importer of footwear. The majority of the shoes that they import are from China. The shoes are marked with the country of origin on the insole, outer sole, or counter. You indicate that the shoe boxes that the shoes are sold in are unsealed and disposable. The brand name of the shoes, which has no reference to a locality in the U.S. or elsewhere will be marked on the shoe box. The box also has the style number, color and size printed on it. The only marking on the outer cartons will be the Logo of J.P. Original Corp., Purchase order #, Style #, color, weight (gross and net), and measurement. Again, there is no reference to any places on the outer carton. You state that typically consumers will normally look at the shoes and try them on prior to purchasing them. You are specifically concerned with whether the shoe boxes and the outer carton have to be marked with the country of origin of the shoes if the shoes are legally marked to indicate their country of origin.


If the shoes are legally marked to indicate their country of origin do the shoe boxes and outer cartons have to be marked to indicate the country of origin of the shoes contained in them?


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. 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 (1940).

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.

The marking requirements for unsealed disposable containers of imported merchandise are set forth in section 134.24(d)(3), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.24(d)(3)). This section provides that "...if the container is normally opened by the ultimate purchaser prior to purchase, only the article need be marked." Marking of the containers is also unnecessary if "the article is so marked that the country of origin is clearly visible without unpacking the container." In HQ 732271, April 27, 1990, Customs ruled that unsealed cartons containing properly marked crystal glassware do not have to be marked with the country of origin because pieces of crystal glassware are kind of articles that an ultimate purchaser would remove from the carton to examine prior to purchase. We noted that a number of factors must be considered in determining if the article involved is something that the ultimate purchaser would take out of its carton to look at prior to purchase. Some of these factors are:

1. Whether a prospective purchaser will want to remove the article from its container to inspect it to find out exactly what he or she may be buying; and

2. Whether the article is the type which a prospective purchaser would be likely to remove from its container in order to examine it prior to purchase to see if it was broken or chipped.

We also noted that crystal glassware is the type of article likely to be on display in the store and that in the unlikely event the ultimate purchaser does not open the carton prior to purchase, he or she would see the country of origin marking on the display item.

In this case, we believe that shoes and other footwear are articles that individuals will typically remove from their box to see what they are buying prior to their purchase. Furthermore, like the crystal in HQ 732271, shoes are often displayed in stores so that consumers can observe them prior to purchase. Consumers usually will look at shoes prior to purchase to examine the style, color, to glance at the size information, and to observe the workmanship. In addition, consumers typically try on a pair of shoes before purchasing them to check for comfort and fit. In doing so, they are likely to see the country origin marking, if it is legible and in a conspicuous location. However, since we do not have a sample of the shoes, we cannot rule on whether the shoes in question are legibly marked in a conspicuous location.

Accordingly, if the shoes are conspicuously and legibly marked with their country of origin then marking the unsealed shoe box and/or the outer carton with the country of origin of the imported shoes is unnecessary provided that those boxes, as you indicate, have no place references printed on them. We also note that Customs has previously ruled that cardboard shoe boxes are disposable containers excepted from marking with their own country of origin under 19 CFR 134.24(c)(1). See HQ 732283 (January 19, 1990).


Shoes are items that purchasers will typically remove from their box to examine prior to purchase. Under 19 CFR 134.24(d)(3), if the shoes are legibly marked with their country of origin in a conspicuous place, then the shoes boxes and outer containers for the shoes do not have to be marked with the country of origin of the shoes.


John Durant, Director

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