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HQ 559890

July 29, 1996

MAR-2-05 RR:TC:SM 559890 MLR


Mr. H.J. Lee
Lee Company
137 Eucalyptus Drive
El Segundo, CA 90245

RE: Country of origin marking of motorcycle helmet; fiber lining; substantial transformation

Dear Mr. Lee:

This is in reference to your letter of March 18, 1996, to U.S. Customs in New York, requesting a ruling regarding the country of origin marking requirements of certain motorcycle helmets. On June 27, 1996, additional information was submitted to the Office of Regulations and Rulings.


It is stated that fiber lining (40 percent nylon and 60 percent polyester fabric) manufactured in either North Korea or Vietnam will be bonded inside a South Korean-origin fiberglass reinforced plastic helmet in South Korea. The completed helmet will be exported to the U.S.


What is the country of origin for marking purposes of the imported motorcycle helmet?


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.

In determining whether the combining of parts or materials constitutes a substantial transformation, in Belcrest Linens v. United States, 573 F. Supp. 1149 (CIT 1983), aff'd, 741 F.2d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1984), the court, considering certain operations performed to fabric, stated that the issue is the extent of operations performed and whether the parts lose their identity and become an integral part of the new article. On the other hand, if the manufacturing or combining process is merely a minor one which leaves the identity of the imported article intact, a substantial transformation has not occurred and an appropriate marking must appear on the imported article so that the consumer can know the country of origin. Uniroyal, Inc. v. United States, 542 F. Supp. 1026, 1029 (CIT 1982), aff'd, 702 F.2d 1022 (Fed. Cir. 1983).

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 732388 dated August 1, 1990, Customs considered Taiwanese foam cut into a particular shape, which was assembled with U.S. made-snaps and U.S. made-headbands in the U.S. It was determined that once attached to the headband, the piece of foam became a finished visor that had a different character and use than the imported foam piece. Accordingly, it was held that the imported article was substantially transformed by the importer and therefore was excepted from individual country of origin marking requirements.

In this case, the imported article is clearly a helmet and not fiber lining. The fiber lining from either North Korea or Vietnam also loses its identity when it is bonded into a South Korean helmet. Consequently, it is our opinion that the country of origin of the imported helmet will be South Korea and the imported helmets must be clearly marked to indicate to the ultimate purchaser their country of origin.


On the basis of the information submitted, we find that the Vietnamese or North Korean fiber lining is substantially transformed when it is bonded into a South Korean helmet shell in South Korea. Therefore, the imported helmets must be marked so as to clearly indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S., that the country of origin of the helmets is "South Korea."

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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