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NY B87106

July 2, 1997

MAR-2 RR:NC:MM:113 B87106


Ms. Judith L. Haloskey
C J International, Inc.
519 S. Ellwood Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224

RE: The country of origin marking of pencils

Dear Ms. Haloskey:

This is in response to your letter dated June 20, 1997, on behalf of Raymond Geddes & Co., requesting a ruling on whether the proposed marking "Made in Taiwan" is an acceptable country of origin marking for imported pencils. A marked sample was not submitted with your letter for review.

The merchandise is a standard pencil. In its imported condition, it will consist of a lead encased in a decorative rigid sheath of wood, with a ferrule and an eraser. The pencil will be purchased as a pencil blank in Taiwan, and shipped to China for finishing. In China, the blank will be foiled with a colorful metalized foil. The ferrule and eraser will be attached, and the finished pencil will be shipped to the United States.

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.

With regard to the permanency of a marking, section 134.41(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(a)), provides that as a general rule marking requirements are best met by marking worked into the article at the time of manufacture. For example, it is suggested that the country of origin on metal articles be die sunk, molded in, or etched. However, section 134.44, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.44), generally provides that any marking that is sufficiently permanent so that it will remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser unless deliberately removed is acceptable.

In HQ 558790 (April 11, 1995 MAR-2 R:C:S 558790 BLS), Customs ruled on whether foiling constituted a substantial transformation of a pencil:

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 the instant case, we find that the pencil blank imparts the essence, or essential character, to the completed pencil. The pencil blank contains the lead ingredient which determines the end use of the finished product, and its underlying shape is retained through completion of the product. Thus, the character of the final product is predetermined by the shape and use of the imported article. . . . The extensive processing performed in the U.S., in completing the "designer pencils", while aesthetically pleasing, does not change the underlying shape of the pencil blank nor its primary function, as a writing tool, which use was predetermined upon importation. Under the circumstances, we find that the . . . processing does not effect a substantial transformation of the imported pencil blank.

The proposed marking of imported pencils as "Made in Taiwan," is acceptable. However, without a marked sample, we are not able to rule if the actual marking itself is conspicuously, legibly and permanently marked in satisfaction of the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134. We suggest that, before importation, you contact your local Customs port for advice on how to correctly mark the items.

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 James Smyth at 212-466-2084.


Robert B. Swierupski
Chief, Metals and Machinery Branch

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