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HQ 558734

November 4, 1994

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:S 558734 MLR


Mr. Arvind K. Suri
J.F. Moran Co., Inc.
20 Avery Road
Cranston, Rhode Island 02910

RE: Country of origin marking of plaster figurine; painting; substantial transformation

Dear Mr. Suri:

This is in reference to your letter of March 25, 1994, to U.S. Customs in New York, requesting a ruling regarding the country of origin marking requirements of certain plaster figurines. Samples of the finished and unfinished figurines were submitted with your request.


Plaster figurines with Christmas motifs will be imported from Uruguay with a sticker "Made in Uruguay" at an approximate price of $1.95 each. In the U.S., the plaster figurine will be hand painted and finished by skilled artisans. The retail price of the finished figurines is approximately $180.00. Because the value added in the U.S. by the painting is so great in comparison to its imported state, you do not wish to mark the figurine "Made in Uruguay."


Whether the painting of the plaster figurines constitutes a substantial transformation, thereby excepting the figurines from country of origin 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 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. Inc., 27 CCPA 297, 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and the exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.1(b), Customs Regulations {19 CFR 134.1(b)}, defines "country of origin" as the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the "country of origin" within the meaning of the marking laws and regulations.

For country of origin marking purposes, a substantial transformation of an imported article occurs when it is used in the U.S. in manufacture, which results in an article having a name, character, or use differing from that of the imported article. In such circumstances, the manufacturer or processor in the U.S. who converts or combines the imported article into the different article will be considered the "ultimate purchaser" of the imported article, and the article is excepted from marking and only the outermost container is required to be marked. See 19 CFR 134.35.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 732964 dated August 3, 1990, Customs determined that ceramic bells hand painted in the U.S. were not substantially transformed. The bells were imported from Taiwan in a cast and fired condition, and were sanded, filled, sprayed with a base paint, hand painted with a Southwestern design, and sprayed with a fixative in the U.S. The ruling quotes T.D. 89-21 which states that Customs "continues to adhere to its position that the mere decoration of porcelain ware does not constitute a substantial transformation." See also HRL 707057 dated December 10, 1976; HRL 058996 dated June 21, 1979; HRL 724978 dated July 13, 1984; and HRL 735595 dated August 2, 1994.

Consequently, based on the rulings above, since the plaster figurines are not substantially transformed in the U.S. by the hand painting operations, they must be clearly marked to indicate to the ultimate purchaser their country of origin. However, the figurines may be described as being hand painted in the U.S, as long as the country of origin of the figurines is indicated by the use of the words "made in", "product of", or other words of similar meaning, in close proximity to the U.S. reference and in at least a comparable size. 19 CFR 134.46. Accordingly, the marking "Hand Painted in USA, Made in Uruguay" on the bottom of the figurines would satisfy the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46.


On the basis of the information submitted, we find that the imported plaster figurines are not substantially transformed by being hand painted in the U.S. The ultimate purchaser is the consumer who purchases the hand painted figurines and not the U.S. processor. Therefore, the figurines must be marked so as to clearly indicate their country of origin, Uruguay, to the ultimate purchaser. However, the marking "Hand Painted in USA, Made in Uruguay" on the bottom of the figurines in the same size print would satisfy the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


John Durant, Director

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