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NY H88178

March 4, 2002

MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:233 H88178


Ms. Beth Ring
Mr. Arthur K. Purcell
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.
551 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10176


Dear Ms. Ring and Mr. Purcell:

This is in response to your letter dated February 4, 2002, on behalf of Paul Winston Jewelry Corp. (“the company” or “the importer”), requesting a ruling on whether it is acceptable to mark the container in which imported jewelry is repackaged in the U.S. with the country of origin in lieu of marking the article itself when no other markings appear on the article itself. A marked sample container was not submitted with your letter for review.

The company currently imports jewelry from the Dominican Republic marked with a secure string tag indicating “Made in the Dominican Republic.” Upon importation, the importer delivers the jewelry to a company-owned and operated facility in the United States. In some instances, prior to distribution and sale to an ultimate purchaser, the company itself removes each article of jewelry from its plastic bag, removes the country of origin string tags, and replaces them with secure, adhesive butterfly tags that are provided by a particular retailer; this new tag indicates the country of origin (“Dominican Republic”), a computer-generated bar code used by the retailer to indicate inventory and price information, and other descriptive information (e.g., “44TW WRAP”). The retagged articles are then shipped to the retailer for sale. In other instances, the importer will ship the jewelry from its U.S. facility in its original shipping containers to a third party wholesaler, who will remove the original string tags and perform the country of origin retagging prior to the jewelry being distributed to retailers and ultimate purchasers. In both instances, the retagging procedures result in unnecessary labor and other costs. Accordingly, the company proposes the following country of origin marking plan.

To avoid the cost and burden of having to remove string tags from each and every article of jewelry after importation only to attach new tags, the importer proposes to import the articles without individual country of origin marking, instead marking the outer bulk shipping containers (wooden crates or otherwise) with the country of origin. Following importation, the articles will be individually tagged with the country of origin prior to delivery to an ultimate purchaser.

Specifically, the company proposes to import jewelry in bulk wooden crates or other containers with the country of origin clearly marked on the outer portion of the containers. No country of origin markings will be indicated on the articles themselves, the individual plastic bags, or “job bags.” Upon importation, the jewelry will be delivered directly to the importer’s own U.S. facility where in some instances the importer will perform the retagging as described above, and in other instances the bulk cartons will be delivered to a third party wholesaler for retagging and distribution to retailers. Therefore, the proposed marking plan merely eliminates the burden of importing each piece of jewelry with string tags only to have them removed and replaced after importation into the United States. In all cases the outer portion of the shipping containers will be clearly marked with country of origin.

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.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Section 134.1(d), defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. If an imported article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the purchaser at retail is the ultimate purchaser. In this case, the ultimate purchaser of the jewelry is the consumer who purchases the product at retail.

An article is excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3)(D) and section 134.32(d), Customs regulations (19 CFR 134.32(d)), if the marking of a container of such article will reasonably indicate the origin of such article. However, since the jewelry is not imported in their marked retail container, whether the subject articles are excepted from individual marking under 19 CFR 134.32(d) is for the port director to decide. In this regard section 134.34, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.34), provides that an exception may be authorized in the discretion of the port director under 19 CFR 134.32(d) for imported articles which are to be repacked after release from Customs custody under the following conditions: (1) The containers in which the articles are repacked will indicate the origin of the articles to an ultimate purchaser in the U.S.; (2) The importer arranges for supervision of the marking of the containers by Customs officers at the importer's expense or secures such verification, as may be necessary, by certification and the submission of a sample or otherwise, of the marking prior to the liquidation of the entry. Please also note 19 CFR 134.26.

In this case, assuming that the port director is satisfied that the imported jewelry will be repacked in the manner described above, and that the other conditions set forth in 19 CFR 134.34 are met, the port director may authorize an exception under 19 CFR 134.32(d), in which case marking of the individual piece of imported jewelry will not be required.

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 Lawrence Mushinske at 646-733-3036.


Robert B. Swierupski

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