U.S. customs laws require that each article produced abroad and imported into the United States be marked with the English name of the country of origin to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United States what country the article was manufactured or produced in. These laws also require that marking be located in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article permits. Articles that are otherwise specifically exempted from individual marking are also an exception to this rule. These exceptions are discussed below.
If the article⎯or its container, when the container and not the article must be marked⎯is not properly marked at the time of importation, a marking duty equal to 10 percent of the article’s customs value will be assessed unless the article is exported, destroyed or properly marked under CBP supervision before the entry is liquidated.
Although it may not be possible to identify the ultimate purchaser in every transaction, broadly stated, the “ultimate purchaser” may be defined as the last person in the United States who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. Generally speaking, when an article is imported into and used in the United States to manufacture another article with a different name, character or usage than the imported article, the manufacturer is the ultimate purchaser. If an article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the retail customer is the ultimate purchaser. A person who subjects an imported article to a process that results in the article’s substantial transformation is the ultimate purchaser, but if that process is only minor and leaves the identity of the imported article intact, the processor of the article will not be regarded as the ultimate purchaser.
When an article or its container is required to be marked with the country of origin, the marking is considered sufficiently permanent if it will remain on the article or container until it reaches the ultimate purchaser.
When an imported article is normally combined with another article after importation but before delivery to the ultimate purchaser and the imported article’s country of origin is located so that it is visible after combining, the marking must include, in addition to the country of origin, words or symbols clearly showing that the origin indicated is that of the imported article, and not of any other article with which it has been combined. For example, if marked bottles, drums, or other containers are imported empty to be filled in the United States, they shall be marked with such words as “Bottle (or drum or container) made in (name of country).” Labels and similar articles marked so that the name of the article’s country of origin is visible after it is affixed to another article in this country shall be marked with additional descriptive words such as “label made (or printed) in (name of country)” or words of equivalent meaning.
In cases where the words “United States” or “American” or the letters “U.S.A.” or any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality in which the article was not manufactured or produced, appear on an imported article or container, and those words, letters, or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser about the article’s actual country of the origin, there shall also appear, legibly, permanently and in close proximity to such words, letters or name, the name of the country of origin preceded by “made in,” “product of,” or other words of similar meaning.
If marked articles are to be repacked in the United States after releasing from CBP custody, importers must certify on the entry that they will not obscure the marking on properly marked articles if the article is repacked, or that they will mark the repacked container. If an importer does not repack but resells to a repacker, the importer must notify the repacker about marking requirements. Failure to comply with these certification requirements may subject importers to penalties and/or additional duties.
Marking Not Required
The following articles and classes or kinds of articles are not required to be marked to indicate the country of origin, i.e., the country in which they were grown, manufactured, or produced. However, the outermost containers in which these articles ordinarily reach the ultimate purchaser in the United States must be marked to indicate the English name of the country of origin of the articles.
Art, works of,
Articles classified subheads 9810.00.15, 9810.00.25, 9810.00.40, and 9810.00.45, HTSUS,
Articles entered in good faith as antiques and rejected as unauthentic,
Bearings, ball, 5/8-inch or less in diameter,
Blanks, metal, to be plated,
Bodies, harvest hat,
Bolts, nuts, and washers,
Briarwood, in blocks,
Briquettes, coal or coke,
Buckles, one inch or less in greatest dimension,
Cellophane and celluloid in sheets, bands, or strips, C
chemicals, drugs, medicinals, and similar substances, when imported in capsules, pills, tablets, lozenges, or troches,
Cigars and cigarettes,
Covers, straw bottle,
Dies, diamond wire, unmounted,
Flooring, not further manufactured than planed, tongued and grooved,
Flowers, artificial, except bunches,
Glass, cut to shape and size for use in clocks, hand, pocket, and purse mirrors, and other glass of similar shapes and size, not including lenses or watch crystals,
Glides, furniture, except glides with prongs,
Hooks, fish (except snelled fish hooks),
Hoops (wood), barrel,
Lumber, except finished,
Metal bars except concrete reinforcement bars, billets, blocks, blooms, ingots, pigs, plates, sheets, except galvanized sheets, shafting, slabs, and metal in similar forms,
Mica not further manufactured than cut or stamped to dimension, shape, or form,
Nails, spikes, and staples,
Natural products, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, berries, and live or dead animals, fish and birds; all the foregoing which are in their natural state or not advanced in any manner further than is necessary for their safe transportation,
Nets, bottle wire,
Parchment and vellum,
Parts, for machines imported from same country as parts,
Plants, shrubs, and other nursery stock,
Posts (wood), fence,
Pulpwood, Rags (including wiping rags),
Rails, joint bars, and tie plates of steel,
Rope, including wire rope, cordage, cords, twines, threads, and yarns,
Scrap and waste,
Shingles (wood), bundles of, except bundles of red-cedar shingles,
Skins, fur, dressed or dyed,
Skins, raw fur,
Stamps, postage and revenue, and government-stamped envelopes and postal cards bearing no printing other than the official imprint,
Staves (wood), barrel,
Ties (wood), railroad,
Tiles, not over one inch in greatest dimension,
Weights, analytical and precision, in sets,
The following classes of articles are also exempt from country-of-origin marking. (The usual container in which one of these articles is imported will also be exempt from marking.)
• An article imported for use by the importer and not intended for sale in its imported or any other form.
• An article to be processed in the United States by the importer or for his account other than for the purpose of concealing the origin of the article and in such manner that any mark of origin would necessarily be obliterated, destroyed, or permanently concealed.
• An article that the ultimate purchaser in the United States, by reason of the article’s character or the circumstances of its importation, must necessarily know the country of origin even though the article is not marked to indicate it. The clearest application of this exemption is when the contract between the ultimate purchaser in the United States and the supplier abroad ensures that the order will be filled only with articles grown, manufactured, or produced in a named country.
The following classes of articles are also exempt from marking to indicate the country of origin:
• Articles incapable of being marked,
• Articles that cannot be marked prior to shipment to the United States without injury,
• Articles that cannot be marked prior to shipment to the United States except at a cost economically prohibitive of their importation,
• Articles for which marking of the containers will reasonably indicate their country of origin,
• Crude substances,
• Articles produced more than 20 years prior to their importation into the United States,
• Articles entered or withdrawn from warehouse for immediate exportation or for transportation and exportation.
Although the articles themselves are exempted from marking to indicate the country of origin, the outermost containers in which they ordinarily reach the ultimate purchaser in the United States must be marked to show the articles’ country of origin.
When marking an article’s container will reasonably indicate its country of origin, the article itself may be exempt from such marking. This exemption applies only when the article reaches the ultimate purchaser in an unopened container. For example, articles that reach the retail purchaser in sealed containers marked clearly to indicate the country of origin fall within this exception. Materials to be used in building or manufactured by the builder or manufacturer who will receive the materials in unopened cases also fall within the exemption. The following articles, as well as their containers, are exempt from country-of-origin marking:
• Products of American fisheries that are free of duty,
• Products of United States possessions, • Products of the United States that are exported and returned,
• Articles valued at not more than $200 (or $100 for bona fide gifts) that are passed without entry.
Section 42 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1124) provides, among other things, that no imported article of foreign origin which bears a name or mark calculated to induce the public to believe that it was manufactured in the United States, or in any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which it was actually manufactured, shall be admitted to entry at any customhouse in the United States. In many cases, the words “United States,” the letters “U.S.A.,” or the name of any city or locality in the United States appearing on an imported article of foreign origin, or on the containers thereof, are considered to be calculated to induce the public to believe that the article was manufactured in the United States unless the name of the country of origin appears in close proximity to the name which indicates a domestic origin. 104 104 Merchandise discovered after conditional release to have been missing a required country of origin marking may be ordered redelivered to CBP custody. If such delivery is not promptly made, liquidated damages may be assessed against the CBP bond. (See 19 CFR 141.113[a]; cf., 19 CFR Part 172 and CBP Form 4647.) An imported article bearing a name or mark prohibited by Section 42 of the Trademark Act is subject to seizure and forfeiture. However, upon the filing of a petition by the importer prior to final disposition of the article, the CBP port director may release it upon the condition that the prohibited marking be removed or obliterated or that the article and containers be properly marked; or the port director may permit the article to be exported or destroyed under CBP supervision and without expense to the government. Section 43 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1125) prohibits the entry of goods marked or labeled with a false designation of origin or with any false description or representation, including words or other symbols tending to falsely describe or represent the same. Deliberate removal, obliteration, covering or altering of required country-of-origin markings after release from