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HQ 561893

May 16, 2001
mar-05 RR:CR:sm 561893 tjm

Category: MARKING

Ms. Carole Leland

244 West Valley Avenue

Birmingham AL 35209

RE: Country of Origin Marking for Supersack from Nicaragua; disposable container; 19 CFR part 134; 19 CFR § 134.45(b); 19 CFR § 134.46.

Dear Ms. Leland:

This is in reply to your undated letter received on September 11, 2000, requesting a ruling on proper country of origin marking for supersacks imported into the U.S. from Nicaragua to be filled with limestone, which is then exported to France. We regret the delay in responding. Please find our response below.


Your client, Amersack Corporation of Birmingham, AL, imports flexible intermediate bulk container made from polyolefins (a.k.a. “supersacks”) from Nicaragua. You stated that after importation, these supersacks are filled with limestone by another company in Georgia (Imerys) and are exported to France. You submitted a sample of an empty supersack.

The large supersack has two labels stitched to the seam. The two labels are on the same side and in close proximity. One label contains information on your client company along with information on the proper handling of the supersack. Below your client company’s name is the marking: “This Product is Made in Nicaragua.” The bottom of this label also contains the following information: “This flexible intermediate bulk container is made from polyolefins (LDPE and PP) and may be disposed of, without harmful contamination if incinerated, as only CO2 and H2O will be released.” The second label that is stitched to the seam is a warning label regarding the content of the supersack after it is filled with limestone in the United States. The warning pertains to health risks to humans and instructions on recommended precautionary measures when handling the content of the supersack. This warning is in English and in French. Located at the bottom of the label is information on Imerys (the company that fills the supersacks), its logo, and its address in the United States, including a reference to “Roswell, GA 30076.”

You stated that Imerys prefers not to mark the warning label with the supersack’s country of origin because it may confuse the ultimate purchaser in France as to whether the content of the bag is a product of Nicaragua or the United States.


What is the proper country of origin marking for the supersacks imported from Nicaragua to be filled with limestone in the United States and then exported to France?


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 United States 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. Congressional intent in requiring a country of origin marking was “that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of origin of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of the purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will.” United States v. Friedlander & Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 297 at 302; C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Section 134.24(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 134.24(b)), provides an exception to marking individual imported containers if the container is deemed disposable. Specifically, section 134.24(a) defines containers or holders not designed for or capable of reuse as: “usual ordinary types of containers or holders, including. . .polyethylene bags. . .and similar containers or holders which are ordinarily discarded after the contents have been consumed.” In the instant case, after inspecting the sample supersack, it is our opinion that the supersacks qualify as disposable containers as defined by 19 C.F.R. § 134.24(a). In cases where such disposable bags or containers are sold in multiple units, marking the outermost container which holds the multiple units and which reaches the ultimate purchaser is sufficient. See 19 C.F.R. § 134.24(b).

Section 134.1 (d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 134.1(d)), provides that the “ultimate purchaser” is generally the last person in the United States who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. In the instant case, the supersacks imported by your client is used by Imerys of Roswell, Georgia, to fill them with limestone. In cases where bags or containers are imported into the United States to be filled with a commodity or a product in the U.S., we have held that the persons or firms who fill them with products they sell are the ultimate purchasers of the containers.

For example, in Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HRL”) 733675, dated May 16, 1991, polypropylene packaging bags were imported from Canada or India. They were filled with pro-fax resin and sold. In that case, we held that the U.S. company which filled the polypropylene packaging bags was the ultimate purchaser. See also HRL 729239, dated January 3, 1986; HRL 731088, dated June 3, 1988; HRL 734932, dated January 3, 1994. For marking purposes, the ultimate purchaser in the instant case is Imerys – the firm that fills the supersacks with limestone. Thus, marking the outermost container of multiple units of supersacks with the country of origin is acceptable.

The reference in the second label to “Rosewell, GA 30076” requires discussion. As noted above, the courts have interpreted the legislative intent of the marking laws as requiring markings that are understood by the purchaser, specifically that they are clear, plain, and unambiguous. Section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR §134.46), requires that:

In any case in which the words “United States,” or “American,” the letters “U.S.A.,” any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or location in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced appear on an imported article or its container, and those words, letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin or the article, there shall appear legibly and permanently in close proximity to such words, letters or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by “Made in,” “Product of,” or other words of similar meaning. (Emphasis added)

Customs has ruled that in order to satisfy the close proximity requirement, the country of origin marking must appear on the same side(s) or surface(s) in which the name of the locality other than the country of origin appears. See HRL 708994 (April 24, 1978), HRL 083832 (May 31, 1989), HRL 73361 (July 26, 1990). In other words, when viewing the non-origin reference, the country of origin must be apparent in one observation without having to manipulate the article.

In the instant case, the second label contains information for the export market. The ultimate purchaser in the U.S. is informed that the supersacks are imported from Nicaragua assuming that the outermost container will state the country of origin or that the first label stitched to the seam will state the country of origin. The requirements of 19 C.F.R. § 134.46 are to prevent the ultimate purchaser from being deceived or misled as to the imported articles’ actual origin due to non-origin geographical references. In the instant case, the geographical reference is the address of the ultimate purchaser. Therefore, because this reference clearly will not mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the origin of the imported supersacks, the requirements of section 134.46 do not apply in this case.


In the instant case, it is our opinion that the imported empty supersacks are disposable containers. Therefore, pursuant to 19 C.F.R. § 134.24(b), marking the outermost container holding multiple units of these supersacks with the country of origin is acceptable. Also, the current country of origin marking on the first label is acceptable.

The ultimate purchaser’s address on one of the two labels stitched to each imported supersack will not mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual origin of the imported sacks. Therefore, the special marking requirements of 19 C.F.R. § 134.46 are not applicable in this case.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents are filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


John Durant

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