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NY C80261

October 17, 1997

MAR-2 RR:NC:MM:109 C80261


Mr. Buck Hall
Export Control Manager
American Microsystems, Inc.
2300 Buckskin Road
Pocatello, Idaho 83201


Dear Mr. Hall:

This is in response to your letter, dated September 24, 1997, requesting a ruling on whether the proposed marking "US origin" is an acceptable country of origin marking for imported application specific integrated circuits (ASICs). A marked sample was not submitted with your letter for review.

Your letter states that the ASIC wafers are manufactured in your Pocatello, Idaho facility. These integrated circuits are mass produced on silicon wafers. A single wafer may contain several hundred integrated circuits. The wafers are sent to various Pacific Rim countries for electrical testing and packaging. The packaging process involves separating the wafer into individual integrated circuit referred to as "dice or chips." The dice are mounted individually in ceramic or plastic packages. Your letter did not provide a complete description of the packaging operation. However, this would involve mounting each die inside the package, electrically connecting the die to the package leads, and closing and sealing the package.

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.

While the United States is a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Part 102, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 102), Rules of Origin would not apply in this instance, because a Certificate of Origin could not be issued for the purpose of claiming preferential treatment under section 181.11, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 181.11).

The issue of whether packaging of integrated circuit dice or chips constitutes a substantial transformation has been addressed in a ruling published as C.S.D. 80-227, dated February 13, 1980, and also in HQ 732357, dated May 21, 1990. In these rulings, Customs determined that assembly of integrated circuits from imported silicon semiconductor chips, which included attachment of the die and lead wires, and encapsulation, effected a substantial transformation. These rulings held that the finished integrated circuits were products of the country in which such processing occurred. Therefore, those integrated circuits that are products of Pacific Rim countries, should be marked accordingly at the time they are imported into the United States. Such marking must be in compliance with the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.

The proposed marking of the imported application specific integrated circuits, as described in your letter is not an acceptable country of origin marking for the imported goods. The assembly of integrated circuits using imported silicon wafers, and which consists of cutting the wafers into chips, mounting the individual circuit, electrically connecting the circuit to the leads and encapsulating the circuit constitutes a substantial transformation. The finished integrated circuit is considered to be a product of the country in which such processing occurs and should be marked accordingly, in compliance with the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

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 Eileen S. Kaplan at 212-466-5673.


Robert B. Swierupski

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