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NY K87182

July 9, 2004

MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:234 K87182


Ms. Vicki Houchen
World Commerce Services, Inc.
830 Dillon Drive
Wood Dale, IL 60191


Dear Ms. Houchen:

This is in response to your letter dated May 17, 2004, on behalf of your client, Mudlark Papers Inc., requesting a ruling on the country of origin marking requirements for certain empty paperboard boxes imported from China. Several unmarked sample boxes were submitted with your letter for review, and are being returned to you as requested.

Each sample is a rigid paperboard “gift box,” measuring approximately 4¾” x 5¾” x 2”(H), with a hinged, flip-open lid. The exterior surfaces are covered with textured, colored paper which you describe as “book paper.” The walls of the box are approximately 3/32” in thickness.

You state that, following importation, the boxes will be filled with foam inserts, various stationery, soaps, bath powders and other personal/gift items. These items will all be made in the USA. A ribbon will also be affixed to the outside of each filled box, which will then be ready for marketing to the consumer. (You do not specify who will be the importer of record, or who will fill the boxes.)

You ask how the imported boxes should be marked. You state: “We would like to mark them ‘Made in the USA’ because when the end product is sold to the consumer, they are buying the personal/gift items that are made in the USA.”

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.

After reviewing the samples provided, we find that the gift boxes fall within the container provisions of Part 134 of the Customs Regulations. Under these regulations, if the containers or holders are designed for or capable of reuse after the contents have been consumed, the consumer purchasing the contents and not the importer is considered to be the ultimate purchaser of the containers, and the containers must be individually marked to indicate their own country of origin. This is the case whether the containers are imported full or empty. For example, if the imported containers to be filled have a lasting value or decorative use (e.g., fancy cologne bottles reusable as flower vases, mustard jars reusable as beer mugs), they must be individually marked with their own country of origin.

However, if the containers are disposable, the importer who fills them is considered to be the ultimate purchaser, and the containers are excepted from individual marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D), and only the outside wrappings or outer cartons need be marked to indicate the country of origin. Customs has ruled that this exception is not limited solely to an importer/filler but also to an importer who sells the containers to another party who will do the filling. Disposable containers are defined as the usual ordinary types of containers or holders which are ordinarily discarded after contents have been consumed.

We find that the imported gift boxes in question are disposable containers within the meaning of the above regulations, since they have no lasting value to the ultimate purchaser of the soaps or other inserted gift items. Accordingly, the ultimate purchasers of the boxes are the firms who will fill them with the gift items. Therefore, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D), the boxes are excepted from individual marking and only the outermost shipping cartons should be marked with the country of origin (i.e., “Made in China”), provided the appropriate Port Director is satisfied that the marked containers will reach the ultimate purchasers.

The remaining question is whether your proposed “Made in the USA” marking of the individual gift boxes is permissible. Given the facts presented, we would not object to such marking, since it would not deceive or mislead the importer or filler of the boxes, and would provide appropriate content-origin information to the ultimate purchaser/recipient of the gifts. However, the issue of whether an article may be marked with the phrase “Made in the USA” is under the authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). We therefore suggest that you contact the FTC Division of Enforcement, 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20508 for further advice on the propriety of your proposed marking.

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 Carl Abramowitz at 646-733-3037.


Robert B. Swierupski

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