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NY A86863

September 11, 1996

MAR-2 RR:NC:TP:349 A86863


Mr. Arnold Edelman
Sabtex (N.Y.) Ltd.
120 Van Nostrand Avenue
P.O. Box 1255
Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 07632


Dear Mr. Edelman:

This is in response to your letter dated August 14, 1996 requesting a ruling on whether the proposed marking of the outer container in lieu of marking the article itself is an acceptable country of origin marking for imported washcloths. Two washcloths were submitted with your letter for review.

These washcloths are imported from various countries for exclusive sale to linen rental companies. They are packed one dozen per polyethylene bag. Each bag is labelled with the country of origin, importer's RN number and fiber content. These polyethylene bags are packed in burlap bales which are also marked with the country of origin. While most sales to the linen rental companies are in full bale lots, there are occasions where parts of full bale lots are sold but the polyethylene bags are never broken up. You request an exception from marking the individual washcloths because the marking of the containers will indicate the country of origin to the linen rental companies.

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 (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its 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.

As provided in section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), the country of origin marking is considered conspicuous if the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. is able to find the marking easily and read it without strain.

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. Accordingly, if the ultimate purchaser can tell the country of origin of the washcloths by viewing the container, the individual washcloths themselves would be excepted from marking under this provision. Therefore, it is necessary to ascertain who is the ultimate purchasers of the washcloths.

Section 134.1(d), Customs Regulations, (19 CFR 134.1(d) ), defines the ultimate purchaser as the generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. Customs has previously considered the question who is the ultimate purchaser when an importer sells towels to a linen supply company, who in turn rents the towels to its customers. In Headquarters Ruling Letter 708979, May 31, 1978, Customs ruled that the linen supply company which purchases the towels in rolls for rental to its customers is the ultimate purchaser of those imported items. Similarly, in this case, we find that the linen rental companies who buy the washcloths and rent them to their customers are the ultimate purchasers of the washcloths.

You have indicated that the washcloths are imported in and are sold to the linen rental companies in polyethylene bags which are marked with the country of origin of the pillowcases and the bags are never broken. Accordingly, if the Director of Customs at the port of entry is satisfied that the imported washcloths will reach the linen rental companies in bags in which they are imported which are legibly and conspicuously marked to indicate the country of origin of the contents, an exception from individual marking will be applicable.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist John Hansen at 212-466-5854.


Roger J. Silvestri

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