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HQ 561028

September 21, 1998

MAR-2 RR:CR:SM 561028 KSG


John N. Politis, Esq.
Politis & Politis
865 S. Figueroa Street
Suite 2308
Los Angeles, California 90017

RE: 19 CFR 134.45; Indonesia; Dominican Republic; jewelry

Dear Mr. Politis:

This is in response to your letter dated June 5, 1998, requesting a country of origin ruling on behalf of Oroamerica Inc. regarding the marking of imported gold bracelets and necklaces made in the Dominican Republic and in Indonesia.

This case involves gold bracelets and necklaces made in the Dominican Republic and in Indonesia. The chains have a clasp on them that bear the country of origin marking. You state that there is insufficient space on the clasps to fully spell out "Indonesia" and "Dominican Republic;" five or six readable letters could be die sunk in the clasp at most. Further, even if the country of origin marking could be die stamped in full on the clasps, the letters would be so small that it would be difficult to read.

Therefore, you propose to mark the jewelry with the abbreviations "INDO" and "DOM REP." In the alternative, you request an exemption from marking pursuant to 19 CFR 134.32(a) because you contend that the products are too small to be marked.


What are the country of origin marking requirements for bracelets and necklaces imported from the Dominican Republic and from Indonesia?


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1304), as amended, 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 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.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.45(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.45(b)), provides that abbreviations of country names "which unmistakably indicate the name of a country ... are acceptable. Variant spellings which clearly indicate the English name of the country of origin such as "Brasil" for "Brazil" and "Italie" for "Italy," are acceptable."

The Court of Customs Appeals held in American Burtonizing Co. v. United States, 13 Ct. Cust. Appls 652 (1926), that the purpose of the country of origin marking law:
was to require a marking such as would be understood by purchasers of foreign-made goods as giving definite and reliable information as to the country of origin. It is not reasonable to suppose that Congress, by use of the word indicate' meant only that words used should hint at the country of origin. The object sought to be obtained by the legislature could best be obtained by an indication which was clear, plain, and unambiguous and which did more than merely hint at the country of origin. We do not think that Congress intended that American purchasers, consumers, or users of foreign-made goods should be required to speculate, investigate or interpret in order that they might ascertain the country of origin.

The court then ruled that the French word "Aisne" was not an acceptable country of origin marking.

Customs has held that the abbreviation "IN" for encapsulated integrated circuits made in Indonesia is not acceptable. See Headquarters Ruling Letter ("HRL") 734443, dated June 3, 1992. Customs held in HRL 559931, dated July 11, 1996, that the abbreviation "RF" for Russian Federation was not acceptable. In this ruling, Customs stated its view that "most abbreviations do not unmistakably identify the country of origin and are therefore unacceptable. The ultimate purchaser should be able to ascertain the country of origin at a glance without any guesswork...."

In Treasury Decision ("T.D.") 93-17, dated March 23, 1993, Customs considered what markings would be acceptable for goods imported from the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Customs looked at the U.S. Department of State list for the long form name and short form name for the new independent countries to reach its conclusion. The U.S. State Department list of Independent States in the World as of August 1, 1997, lists "Indonesia" as the short form name and the "Republic of Indonesia" as the long form name for Indonesia. The list stated that "Dominican Republic" as the short form name and "Commonwealth of Dominica" as the long form name for the Dominican Republic. The abbreviations "INDO" and "DOM REP." do not unmistakably indicate the name of either country to an ultimate purchaser without any guesswork and are neither the recognized short form names or long form names for those countries. Therefore, we find these abbreviations to be unacceptable.

In HRL 735356, dated March 21, 1994, Customs approved the use of hangtags to mark imported jewelry because it was difficult to read the country of origin that was die stamped on the clasps. There are other rulings in which Customs approved the use of hangtags to mark jewelry. See HRL 734481, dated August 19, 1992; C.S.D. 79-47, dated August 7, 1978; and C.S.D. 79-379, dated April 9, 1979. There has been no showing in this case that the country of origin of the imported jewelry could not be marked on hangtags. We find that there has been no showing that the imported jewelry is incapable of being marked; the imported jewelry could be marked with hangtags securely affixed that bear its country of origin. Furthermore, the certification and verification procedures in 19 CFR 134.26 shall be used if the importer or subsequent transferee intend to repack or manipulate the jewelry, to ensure that the country of origin marking remains on the jewelry until it reaches the ultimate purchaser.


The abbreviations "INDO" and "DOM REP." for bracelets and necklaces imported from Indonesia and the Dominican Republic are not acceptable.

The imported bracelets and necklaces are not excepted from country of origin marking. The imported jewelry can be marked with hangtags that indicate its country of origin. If the jewelry will be repacked or manipulated, the certification procedures in 19 CFR 134.26 shall be followed.

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
Commercial Rulings Division

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