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HQ 562026

April 2, 2001
mar-05 RR:CR:sm 562026 tjm

Category: MARKING

Mr. Rodney Ralston
Trans-Border Customs Services, Inc.
One Trans-Border Drive
PO Box 800
Champlain, NY 12919

RE: Country of origin marking for electric motors from Italy; 19 CFR part 134; 19 CFR § 134.1(k); 19 CFR § 134.41(b); 19 CFR § 134.32(d)

Dear Mr. Ralston:

This is in reply to your letter dated January 24, 2001, requesting a ruling on proper country of origin marking for electric motors imported from Italy. Please find our response below.


Your client, Sasumi Electric Inc., imports electric motors produced in Italy into the United States. These motors are manufactured in various sizes and they are sold in the U.S. to original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”) and to wholesale businesses that resell the motors as replacement parts.

Attached to all the imported motors is a name plate printed with information on the motor’s size, specifications, manufacturer’s name and manufacturer’s address. A photocopy of the plate was submitted. The name plate measures approximately 2 3/4 inches by 1 7/8 inches (approximately 7 cm by 4.7 cm). In large letters, the name of the Italian manufacturer, “Lafert Motors,” is printed on the name plate. In smaller letters and below the manufacturer’s name is printed the manufacturer’s address including the word “Italy.” The word “Italy” measures 1/16 inch in height and 1/8 inch in width.

On March 12, 2001, you stated by telephone that the electric motors are shipped to the original equipment manufacturers in the same containers in which they are imported.


Whether the current country of origin marking on the name plate as described above is acceptable for the imported electric motors.


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. 19 CFR part 134 implements the country of origin marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. § 1304. 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.

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).

In the instant case, one category of ultimate purchasers is the customers of wholesalers who will purchase individual electric motors as replacement parts. In such cases, the individual motors or its packaging must contain markings that are conspicuous, legible, indelible and permanent.

Section 134.1(k), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(k)), defines conspicuous as “capable of being easily seen with normal handling of the article or container.” Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), states in pertinent part that the “ultimate purchaser in the United States must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain.”

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HRL”) 733940, dated October 24, 1991, and in HRL 734231, dated November 4, 1991, Customs indicated that there are certain factors that need to be considered in determining if the country of origin marking on an article is conspicuous within the meaning of 19 C.F.R. § 134.41 and 19 U.S.C. § 1304. Among the factors that should be considered is the size of the marking, the location of the marking, whether the marking stands out, and the legibility of the marking. The size of the marking should be large enough so that the ultimate purchasers can easily see the marking without strain. The location of the marking should be in a place where the ultimate purchaser could expect to find the marking or where he/she could easily notice it from a casual inspection. Whether the marking stands out is dependent on where it appears in relationship to other print on the article and whether it is in contrasting letters to the background. The legibility of the marking concerns the clarity of the letters and whether the ultimate purchaser could read the letters of the marking without strain.

No single factor is considered conclusive by itself in determining whether a marking meets the conspicuous requirement. Instead, it is the combination of these factors which determines whether the marking is acceptable. In some cases, a marking may be unacceptable even when it is in a large size because the letters are too hard to read or it is in a location where it would not be easily noticed. In other cases, even if the marking is small, the use of contrasting colors, which make the letters particularly stand out, could compensate to make the marking acceptable.

As required by Section 134.41(b), the ultimate purchaser should be able to read the country of origin marking without strain. In the instant case, the word “Italy,” measures 1/16 inch in height and 1/8 inch in width. It is also part of the manufacturer’s address in the same type size, causing the country of origin marking to be less conspicuous. Also, the manufacturer’s name, which is just above the word “Italy” is in much larger type size causing the latter to be less prominent. In HRL 561218, we ruled that the country of origin marking on the product at issue in that case, which measured 1/16 inch in height, was too small. In that case, we accepted type size that measured 1/8 inch in height.

It is our opinion that the word “Italy” as it appears currently on the name plate is not large enough so that a reasonable person would be able to read it without strain. To be conspicuous, the word “Italy” on the name plate should be at least twice its current size for motors imported for wholesale customers.

The other category of ultimate purchasers in the instant case is the original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”). Section 134.1(d)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 134.1(d)(1)), states that “[i]f an imported article will be used in manufacture, the manufacturer may be the ‘ultimate purchaser’ if he subjects the imported article to a process which results in a substantial transformation of the article, even though the process may not result in a new or different article. . . .”

Section 134.32(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 134.32(d)), provides an exception to the country of origin marking requirements for “[a]rticles for which the marking of the containers will reasonably indicate the origin of the articles” to the ultimate purchaser.

In cases where Customs has found that an exception set forth at 19 C.F.R. § 134.32(d) applies, Customs has stated that the container may be marked in lieu of the article only if Customs is satisfied that the article will remain in its container until it reaches the ultimate purchaser. See HRL 559922, dated March 25, 1997. In HRL 732201, dated October 17, 1989, and in HRL 734292, dated May 26, 1992, electric motors were imported into the United States for U.S. manufacturers who used the motors as components in their final products. In these cases, Customs accepted the section 134.32(d) exception to general marking requirements because the marking of containers reasonably indicated the origin of the articles to the ultimate purchasers.

On March 12, 2001, you stated by telephone that the motors are shipped to the OEMs in the same containers in which they are imported. You stated that they are not repackaged prior to shipment to the OEMs. Assuming the facts provided, marking the containers with the country of origin that satisfies 19 C.F.R. § 134.11 requirements is acceptable. In other words, if the containers are properly marked, enlarging the word “Italy” on the current name plate would not be necessary for motors imported for OEMs.


Country of origin markings should be conspicuous, legible, indelible and permanent as the articles (or containers) allow. Conspicuous means that the ultimate purchaser can easily find the marking and read it without strain.

For electric motors that will be sold to wholesale resellers, the current country of origin marking on the name plate - “Italy” (in letters 1/16 inch high) - is not sufficiently large for the ultimate purchasers to read without strain. To be conspicuous, the word “Italy” should be at least twice its current size.

For electric motors imported for original equipment manufacturers, an exception to country of origin marking requirements may apply if the port is satisfied that the containers, in which the motors are imported and delivered to the OEMs, are marked with the country of origin in a conspicuous, legible, indelible, and permanent manner. In other words, for motors imported for OEMs, either the container can be marked or the word “Italy” on the name plate can be enlarged.

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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