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HQ 559285

February 1, 1996

MAR-05 RR:TC:SM 559285 BLS


Mr. Mike Zatezalo
Capitol Manufacturing
675 Brooksedge Boulevard
Westerville, Ohio 43086-6103

RE: Country of origin marking of pipe nipples imported from Canada

Dear Mr. Zarazelo:

This is in reference to your fax dated June 27, 1995, requesting a ruling concerning the country of origin marking of certain pipe nipples to be imported from Canada.


You state that the pipe nipples to be imported, samples of which are submitted, are the following:

1/2" x Close Std. Black Nipple
1 1/4" x Close Std. Black Nipple
1/2" x 1 1/2" Std. Galvanized Nipple
1 1/2" x 2" Std. Galvanized Nipple

You believe that these items cannot be die-stamped, cast-in-mold lettered, etched, engraved, or paint stenciled without damaging the integrity of the product. Therefore, you request that you be able to employ an alternative method to mark these items.


Whether, under the provisions of 19 U.S.C. 1304(c), the subject pipe nipples are required to be marked with the country of origin by die-stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching, engraving, or paint stenciling,


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 at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods are 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).

Section 207 of the Trade and Tariff Act of 1984 (Pub. L. 98-573), amended 19 U.S.C. 1304 to require, without exception, that all pipe, tube, and pipe fittings of iron or steel be marked to indicate the proper country of origin by means of die stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching or engraving. See 19 U.S.C. 1304(c). However, after the enactment of Section 207, it was brought to the attention of Customs that certain pipe and pipe fittings of iron and steel cannot be marked by any of the methods prescribed by the section without rendering such articles unfit for the purpose for which they were intended. Customs solicited comments on the subject, and issued T.D. 86-15 published in the Federal Register on February 5, 1986, 51 Fed. Reg. 24, setting forth certain categories of articles which may be marked by alternative methods. For certain categories of articles, paint stenciling was the requisite method. For other categories, paint stenciling or tagging of the bundles or the containers was permitted. These categories included thin-walled pipes and fittings, small-diameter pipes and fittings, other fittings, line pipe, coated pipe, and spun iron pipe. These categories of articles are described in detail in T.D. 86-15. In addition, for ornamental pipes, tube, and fittings of all types, having a highly polished surface, T.D. 86-15 permitted marking by means of a durable tag or sticker securely affixed or marking the protective wrapper.

In 1986, Congress enacted Pub. L. 99-514 which amended 19 U.S.C. 1304(c) to authorize such alternative methods of marking if, because of the nature of the article, it is technically or commercially infeasible to mark by one of the four prescribed methods. 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(2) provided that in such case the article may be marked "by an equally permanent method of marking such as paint stenciling or, in the case of small diameter pipe, tube, and fittings, by tagging the containers, or bundles."

In order to carry out Congressional intent, on July 22, 1992, Customs published, in the Federal Register, T.D. 92-70 which amended T.D. 86-15 to allow the country of origin marking of pipe, tube, and fittings by tagging the bundles or containers, but only with respect to small diameter pipe, tube, and fittings. T.D. 92-70 specifically provided that pipe, tubes and fittings which could
not be marked by a prescribed method must be marked by "paint stenciling or an equally permanent method." The notice indicated that Customs does not consider tagging the bundles or containers an equally permanent marking method as paint stenciling. Therefore, marking pipe, tube, and fittings by tagging the bundles or containers is acceptable only for small diameter product. In T.D. 86-15, Customs determined that small diameter product included fittings that have a nominal diameter of one-fourth inch or less and pipe with an inner diameter of 1.9 inches or less.

Customs recognized in T.D. 92-70 that there might be some cases where paint stenciling or an equally permanent method of marking could damage the product and render it unfit for the purpose it was intended. Customs indicated that in such instances it would consider alternative methods of marking on a case-by-case basis.

On December 8, 1993, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA") Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182), Congress again amended the country of origin marking provisions for pipes, tubes and pipe fittings. Section 207(a) of the Act revised the requirements for marking the country of origin for pipes of iron, steel, or stainless steel by adding a fifth acceptable statutory method of marking -- continuous paint stenciling. See 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(1). In addition, 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(2) was amended by eliminating the reference in the statute which indicated that paint stenciling was an example of an equally permanent method of marking that could be used if it was technically or commercially infeasible to mark by one of the statutory methods.

By enacting this amendment to 19 U.S.C 1304(c), Congress reaffirmed its decision that pipes must be permanently marked by only certain methods. Only in cases where it is technically or commercially infeasible to mark by one of the described methods can an alternative be considered and that alternative must be equally as permanent. Furthermore, tagging bundles or containers will be acceptable only in the case of small diameter pipe, tube, and fittings.

In this instance, the samples submitted do not fall within the specifications of "small diameter" pipe as described in T.D. 86-15. Thus, the articles must be marked by one of the five statutorily prescribed methods, unless it is "technically or commercially infeasible" to mark by one of these methods, in which case Customs would accept an alternative which must be equally permanent. In this regard, the Customs Office of Laboratories and Scientific Services has examined the submitted samples and concluded that it is technically feasible to mark each of the samples by etching, on an area approximately 3/16 inch, without damage to the articles. No evidence has been submitted indicating that it is commercially infeasible to mark the articles by one of the five prescribed methods. Therefore, we find that the articles must be marked indicating Canada as the country of origin by etching, or by any of the other four permanent methods of marking prescribed in 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(1).


The subject pipe nipples can be marked with the country of origin safely without damaging the product by acid etching. Therefore, the nipples must be marked with the country of origin by etching or one of the other four methods of marking specified in 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(1).

A copy of this ruling 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. Sincerely,

John Durant, Director

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