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HQ 560001

December 3, 1996

MAR-2-05 RR:TC:SM 560001 KR


Andrea C. Pigott
Tower Group International
6730 Middlebelt Road
Romulus, MI 48174-2039

RE: Country of Origin Marking for Boot Shaft Pillow; Ultimate Purchaser; 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D); 19 CFR ?134.32(d); 19 CFR ?134.1(d).

Dear Ms. Pigott:

This is in response to your letter of July 31, 1996, on behalf of Tender Tootsies Limited, concerning the country of origin marking requirements for boot shaft pillows which you intend to import.


You state that you intend to import boot shaft pillows, which are used to keep the taller shafts of boots from falling over while the boots are on display. These boot shaft pillows are sold only to retailers, and are not sold to the retail purchaser of the boot. You are interested in the marking requirements for the boot shaft pillows. You state that you are also interested in any fiber content labeling requirements.


What are the country of origin marking requirements applicable to imported boot shaft pillows?


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.

Among the exceptions to country of origin marking is 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D), also provided for in section 134.32(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR ?134.32(d)). That section provides that articles for which the marking of their containers will reasonably indicate the country of origin of the articles may be excepted from country of origin marking. However, for the exception to apply, Customs must be satisfied that the articles will reach the "ultimate purchaser" in the original, properly marked containers in which the articles were imported. 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.

In HQ 734524 (July 30, 1992), reasoning that the ultimate purchaser of frozen food meals would be the airline rather than the passenger, Customs found that such frozen meals would probably be excepted from individual marking so long as the ultimate purchaser (the airline) received the meals in bulk with proper marking on the outermost containers in which they were imported. See also Information Letter, HQ 732988 (May 30, 1990).

In Legal Determination 79-0382 (HQ 710493 dated July 17, 1979), Customs determined that the airline was the ultimate purchaser of the imported dinnerware. In that case, dinnerware was imported for sale by the importer to a company that resold it to an airline company for its use in serving in-flight meals. The airline company received the dinnerware in the original, unopened and properly marked bulk containers. There, Customs found that the dinnerware was excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D). However, in HQ 724335 (January 16, 1984), Customs found that airline passengers were the ultimate purchasers of plastic cups and glasses of a durable nature which the passengers could keep. Accordingly, the cups and glasses had to be marked with their country of origin. The distinguishing factor between these two decisions is the fact that, in the former decision, the passengers could not take the goods with them for use elsewhere, while in the latter decision they could.

In a very similar case to the present situation, HQ 734635 (December 17, 1992), airline washcloths were held to be excepted from individual marking. Customs found that since the washcloths remained the property of the airlines and the passengers did not keep or remove them from the airplane, the airline was the ultimate purchaser. Therefore, Customs held that if the airline received the washcloths in properly marked containers, the individual washcloths did not have be marked.

Customs has previously ruled that a plant or concern which purchases gloves for use by its employees is considered the ultimate purchaser, and that the gloves may be excepted from individual country of origin marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR ?134.32(d). See C.S.D. 89-89 (March 18, 1989); letter ruling 703319 (May 14, 1974); HQ 729800 (October 10, 1989); HQ 732793 (December 20, 1989); HQ 735480 (March 20, 1995); HQ 734681 (October 16, 1992).

We find that the ultimate purchaser of the boot shaft pillow is the retailer who inserts it into the boot. Therefore, the smallest package in which the boot shaft pillow is sold must be marked with its country of origin. If the boot shaft pillow is broken out of a bulk package and sold individually then the individual boot shaft pillow must be marked with its country of origin. The port Director must be satisfied that the retailer will receive the boot shaft pillows in an original unopened marked containers. If so, the individual boot shaft pillow may be excepted from country of origin marking pursuant to 19 CFR

It is noted that special marking requirements are applicable to textile articles under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act ("TFPIA"), 15 U.S.C. 70 through 70(k), which is within the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission and its regulations. Thus, while Customs is prepared in this instance to allow the requested exception from country of origin marking, there may remain a requirement under the TFPIA to mark each boot shaft pillow with a sewn on or otherwise affixed label. We suggest that you consult the Federal Trade Commission at 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20508, for more information concerning their regulations on this point.


For purposes of 19 U.S.C. 1304, the ultimate purchaser of the boot shaft pillow is the boot retailer and not the boot purchaser. Accordingly, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR ?134.32(d) the boot shaft pillows are excepted from individual country of origin marking so long as the boot shaft pillows are imported in properly marked containers and the port Director is satisfied that the ultimate purchaser, the boot retailer, receives the boot shaft pillow in these original unopened containers.
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
Tariff Classification Appeals

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