United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1995 HQ Rulings > HQ 558985 - HQ 735131 > HQ 734925

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 734925

July 6,1994

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:S 734925 KR


U.S. Customs Service
District Director
300 S. Ferry Street
Room 1001
Terminal Island, CA 90731

RE: Country of Origin Marking for Maps; Ultimate Purchaser; 19 CFR

Dear Sir:

This is in response to your request for internal advice dated December 14, 1992. Map Link, Inc., requested a country of origin marking exception concerning the "Notice to Mark and/or Redeliver" which was issued to Map Link, Inc., regarding maps which are imported from various areas worldwide for various purposes.


Map Link, Inc., imports international maps for use in travel, military, educational purposes, libraries, news media, engineering and geophysical exploration, and other uses. Map Link, Inc., claims that the maps should not be required to be marked with the country of origin because:

1. The maps are not made with the intent of being consumed in the U.S. 2. It would limit the public's access to geographical information. 3. Maps are already marked with their country of origin in an obvious manner by listing the publisher on the face of the map, when the map is resold in the U.S. Map Link states that this information is "typically" in English. When a map is intended for research only, the publishing information will be in the language of the locality included on the map. 4. Marking these maps will not protect an American industry. 5. The U.S. country of origin marking laws conflict with the basic sovereignty of nations included in the map.
6. Map Link also states that since these requirements haven't been required for the past 62 years and foreign governments often revise their maps every ten to twenty years, Customs should not invoke any new requirements for ten years at which point most international governments will be publishing new maps.

Map Link, Inc., lists the following examples of several types of maps which are imported:

1. A Tokyo map imported from Switzerland, but created in Japan, the copyright information appears in the lower left corner in English; 2. Michelin maps of France with the copyright information in the lower right side in tiny type;
3. Institut Geographique National 34 POITERS, LOCHES, imported from France and published by the French government, it does not state that it is published in France;
4. Nelles Indonesia, imported from Germany has the copyright statement on the lower right hand corner of the map sheet; 5. Cartographia CSONGRAD, has a cover printed in Hungarian and is sold to academics and researchers, has the statement "Budapest, 1988", and is published by the government of Hungary; 6. Farsi SAUDI ARABIA, published in Saudi Arabia, contains a copyright statement on both sides of the map in English.

The maps from Hungary are the maps which received the Notice to Mark and/or Redeliver.


Who is the ultimate purchaser of the maps?

Are the maps excepted from country of origin marking?


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 are the product. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

Section 134.1(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. The ultimate purchaser of the maps is the person who will receive the maps for his/her specific use.

Customs has held that it is customary for printed material, such as books, to contain publishing, printing and copyright information on the title page and on the back to the title page. This is the area the ultimate purchaser expects to find the country of origin marking, and this satisfies the conspicuous requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304(a) and 19 CFR ?134.41. See HRL 731882 (October 31, 1989); HRL 731663 (July 18, 1989). Customs does not require that the country of origin appear in the most conspicuous place, only that it must be a conspicuous location where the ultimate purchaser would be expected to look for country of origin information. Id.

In NY 871524 (February 24, 1992), Customs found that imported maps were required to be marked with the country of origin. Customs held that the country of origin of a map could not be in a place other than the front or back panel of a folded map. Customs reasoned that the ultimate purchaser must be able to find the country of origin upon a "casual handling of the item." Since Customs found that the pertinent information for purchasing the map appeared on the front panel, (title, list of features, publisher, etc.) the country of origin should appear there as well.

In the instant situation, it is not clear whether the map is folded or is in a "plat" format (flat and not intended to be folded). In either case, we find that the country of origin must be marked on the map. We are not persuaded that the maps are incapable of being marked with the country of origin. Even if Map Link, Inc. can not require the map to be originally published with the English name of the country of origin, Map Link, Inc. can mark the maps with their country of origin after they purchase the map, by using a method such as, but not limited to, ink stamping or adhesive labels. The country of origin must appear in a conspicuous location such as the front panel of the map, or in the area which lists the map's pertinant information (such as the title of the map). 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 in its original, unopened and properly marked condition. C.S.D. 89-78. If the maps are placed in such a container which is marked with the country of origin of the map, the map itself would be excepted from marking.


For purposes of country of origin marking, the ultimate purchaser of the map is the person who will receive the map for his/her specific use. The maps must be marked with their country of origin in English in a conspicuous location such as the front panel of the map, or in the area which lists the maps pertinent information. Ink stamping or an adhesive label which is sufficiently permanent and legible would be one possible method of marking the country of origin on the maps. If the map is placed in an acceptable container which is marked with the country of origin of the map and which under reasonably foreseeable circumstances, will reach the ultimate purchaser unopened, the map itself may be excepted from marking. This decision should be mailed by your office to the internal advice requester no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling