United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2007 HQ Rulings > HQ H004643 - HQ H005862 > HQ H005537

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ H005537





April 5, 2007

CLA-2 RR:CTF:TCM H005537 KSH

CATEGORY: MARKING

Robert D. Stang, Esq.
Greenberg Traurig
800 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006

RE:     Country of origin marking requirements for imported non-prescription eyewear components used to produce finished sunglasses; ultimate purchaser; substantial transformation; marking exception     

Dear Mr. Stang:

This is in response to your letter, dated January 16, 2007, in which you request a country of origin marking ruling on behalf of your client, Protective Optics, Inc.

FACTS:

Protective Optics intends to import non-prescription eyewear components that will be manufactured and assembled into eyewear in the United States under two possible scenarios. Under the first scenario, Protective Optics will import lens blanks and fully assembled frames. In the United States, the lens blanks will be manufactured into finished lenses by cutting the blanks to size, polishing the cut component and inscribing the lenses with safety information. The lenses, frames and other components will then be assembled to form the finished eyewear. Under the second scenario, the production process is identical to the first scenario, however the lens blanks will be manufactured in the United States.

Protective Optics states that it will not mark the individual components with their country of origin. However, the outermost packaging of the individual components will state the proper country of origin of the individual components.

ISSUE:

Whether the imported components, upon importation into the United States, may be excepted from individual country of origin markings pursuant to 19 CFR 134.35.

LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (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 United States the English name of the country of origin of the article. Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. §1304 was that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the good is a product. "The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of 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 (1940).

Part 134 of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and the exceptions of 19 U.S.C. ¬ß1304. Section 134.1(b) of the CBP Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(b)), defines "country of origin" as "the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the United States. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the ‚Äėcountry of origin‚Äô within the meaning [of the marking laws and regulations]." The case of U.S. v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (C.A.D. 98)(1940), provides that an article used in manufacture which results in an article having a name, character, or use differing from that of the constituent article will be considered substantially transformed and, as a result, the manufacturer or processor will be considered the ultimate purchaser of the constituent materials. In such circumstances, the imported article is excepted from marking and only the outermost container is required to be marked. See, 19 CFR 134.35(a).

Therefore, the determinative issue in this case is the identity of the ultimate purchaser of the imported components. CBP has consistently held that inserting U.S.-origin non-prescription lenses into imported frames to make completed non-prescription glasses will effect a substantial transformation of the imported frames. As a result, the ultimate purchaser of the frames in such cases is considered to be the manufacturer that inserts the lenses into the frames. For example, in Headquarters Ruling Letter ("HQ") 734327, dated February 17, 1993, frames manufactured abroad were imported into the United States where U.S.-origin non-prescription lenses were inserted into the frames to make sunglasses. We held that inserting the U.S.-origin non-prescription lenses into the imported frames effected a substantial transformation of the imported frames. Therefore, the U.S. assembler was the ultimate purchaser of the frames and such frames were excepted from individual country of origin marking as long as the outermost containers were properly marked when imported. See also, HQ 733654, dated October 29, 1990 (insertion of U.S.-origin non-prescription lenses into imported black nylon frames to make sunglasses in the United States effected a substantial transformation of the imported frames). See also HQ 562726, dated July 2, 2003.

Similarly, in New York Ruling Letter (NY) J85665, dated June 23, 2003, CBP determined that imported frames and lens blanks that were further manufactured and assembled in the United States were substantially transformed in the United States such that ‚Äúonly the containers that reach the ultimate purchaser are required to be marked with the country of origin.‚ÄĚ

As applied to the case under consideration, it is our opinion that the imported components are substantially transformed into products of the United States when processed into completed non-prescription glasses in the manner set forth under the two scenarios above. Therefore, in accordance with 19 CFR 134.1(d)(1), Protective Optics is considered to be the ultimate purchaser of the imported frames and, under 19 CFR 134.35(a), the individual frames and lens blanks may be excepted from individual marking when imported into the United States as long as the outermost containers are properly marked.

HOLDING:

Based upon the information and samples presented, it is our opinion that the imported components will be substantially transformed into products of the United States when assembled in the location and manner set forth above. Accordingly, under 19 CFR 134.1(d)(1), Protective Optics is considered to be the ultimate purchaser of the components. As a result, the imported components are excepted from individual country of origin markings pursuant to 19 CFR 134.35(a), as long as the outermost containers are properly marked when imported into the United States.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time the goods are entered. If the documents have been filed without a


Previous Ruling Next Ruling