§1304. Marking of imported articles and containers
(a) Marking of articles
Except as hereinafter provided, every article of foreign origin (or its container, as provided in subsection (b) hereof) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article. The Secretary of the Treasury may by regulations—
(1) Determine the character of words and phrases or abbreviations thereof which shall be acceptable as indicating the country of origin and prescribe any reasonable method of marking, whether by printing, stenciling, stamping, branding, labeling, or by any other reasonable method, and a conspicuous place on the article (or container) where the marking shall appear;
(2) Require the addition of any other words or symbols which may be appropriate to prevent deception or mistake as to the origin of the article or as to the origin of any other article with which such imported article is usually combined subsequent to importation but before delivery to an ultimate purchaser; and
(3) Authorize the exception of any article from the requirements of marking if—
(A) Such article is incapable of being marked;
(B) Such article cannot be marked prior to shipment to the United States without injury;
(C) Such article cannot be marked prior to shipment to the United States, except at an expense economically prohibitive of its importation;
(D) The marking of a container of such article will reasonably indicate the origin of such article;
(E) Such article is a crude substance;
(F) Such article is imported for use by the importer and not intended for sale in its imported or any other form;
(G) Such article is to be processed in the United States by the importer or for his account otherwise than for the purpose of concealing the origin of such article and in such manner that any mark contemplated by this section would necessarily be obliterated, destroyed, or permanently concealed;
(H) An ultimate purchaser, by reason of the character of such article or by reason of the circumstances of its importation, must necessarily know the country of origin of such article even though it is not marked to indicate its origin;
(I) Such article was produced more than twenty years prior to its importation into the United States;
(J) Such article is of a class or kind with respect to which the Secretary of the Treasury has given notice by publication in the weekly Treasury Decisions within two years after July 1, 1937, that articles of such class or kind were imported in substantial quantities during the five-year period immediately preceding January 1, 1937, and were not required during such period to be marked to indicate their origin: Provided, That this subdivision shall not apply after September 1, 1938, to sawed lumber and timbers, telephone, trolley, electric-light, and telegraph poles of wood, and bundles of shingles; but the President is authorized to suspend the effectiveness of this proviso if he finds such action required to carry out any trade agreement entered into under the authority of sections 1351, 1352, 1353, 1354 of this title, as extended; or
(K) Such article cannot be marked after importation except at any expense which is economically prohibitive, and the failure to mark the article before importation was not due to any purpose of the importer, producer, seller, or shipper to avoid compliance with this section.
(b) Marking of containers
Whenever an article is excepted under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section from the requirements of marking, the immediate container, if any, of such article, or such other container or containers of such article as may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, shall be marked in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of such article, subject to all provisions of this section, including the same exceptions as are applicable to articles under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section. If articles are excepted from marking requirements under clause (F), (G), or (H) of subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section, their usual containers shall not be subject to the marking requirements of this section. Usual containers in use as such at the time of importation shall in no case be required to be marked to show the country of their own origin.
(c) Marking of certain pipe and fittings
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), no exception may be made under subsection (a)(3) of this section with respect to pipes of iron, steel, or stainless steel, to pipe fittings of steel, stainless steel, chrome-moly steel, or cast and malleable iron each of which shall be marked with the English name of the country of origin by means of die stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching, engraving, or continuous paint stenciling.
(2) If, because of the nature of an article, it is technically or commercially infeasible to mark it by one of the five methods specified in paragraph (1), the article may be marked by an equally permanent method of marking or, in the case of small diameter pipe, tube, and fittings, by tagging the containers or bundles.
(d) Marking of compressed gas cylinders
No exception may be made under subsection (a)(3) of this section with respect to compressed gas cylinders designed to be used for the transport and storage of compressed gases whether or not certified prior to exportation to have been made in accordance with the safety requirements of sections 178.36 through 178.68 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, each of which shall be marked with the English name of the country of origin by means of die stamping, molding, etching, raised lettering, or an equally permanent method of marking.
(e) Marking of certain manhole rings or frames, covers, and assemblies thereof
No exception may be made under subsection (a)(3) of this section with respect to manhole rings or frames, covers, and assemblies thereof each of which shall be marked on the top surface with the English name of the country of origin by means of die stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching, engraving, or an equally permanent method of marking.
(f) Marking of certain coffee and tea products
The marking requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall not apply to articles described in subheadings 0901.21, 0901.22, 0902.10, 0902.20, 0902.30, 0902.40, 2101.10, and 2101.20 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, as in effect on January 1, 1995.
(g) Marking of spices
The marking requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall not apply to articles provided for under subheadings 0904.11, 0904.12, 0904.20, 0905.00, 0906.10, 0906.20, 0907.00, 0908.10, 0908.20, 0908.30, 0909.10, 0909.20, 0909.30, 0909.40, 0909.50, 0910.10, 0910.20, 0910.30, 0910.40, 0910.50, 0910.91, 0910.99, 1106.20, 1207.40, 1207.50, 1207.91, 1404.90, and 3302.10, and items classifiable in categories 0712.90.60, 0712.90.8080, 1209.91.2000, 1211.90.2000, 1211.90.8040, 1211.90.8050, 1211.90.8090, 2006.00.3000, 2918.13.2000, 3203.00.8000, 3301.90.1010, 3301.90.1020, and 3301.90.1050 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, as in effect on January 1, 1995.
(h) Marking of certain silk products
The marking requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall not apply either to—
(1) articles provided for in subheading 6214.10.10 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, as in effect on January 1, 1997; or
(2) articles provided for in heading 5007 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States as in effect on January 1, 1997.
(i) Additional duties for failure to mark
If at the time of importation any article (or its container, as provided in subsection (b) of this section) is not marked in accordance with the requirements of this section, and if such article is not exported or destroyed or the article (or its container, as provided in subsection (b) of this section) marked after importation in accordance with the requirements of this section (such exportation, destruction, or marking to be accomplished under customs supervision prior to the liquidation of the entry covering the article, and to be allowed whether or not the article has remained in continuous customs custody), there shall be levied, collected, and paid upon such article a duty of 10 per centum ad valorem, which shall be deemed to have accrued at the time of importation, shall not be construed to be penal, and shall not be remitted wholly or in part nor shall payment thereof be avoidable for any cause. Such duty shall be levied, collected, and paid in addition to any other duty imposed by law and whether or not the article is exempt from the payment of ordinary customs duties. The compensation and expenses of customs officers and employees assigned to supervise the exportation, destruction, or marking to exempt articles from the application of the duty provided for in this subsection shall be reimbursed to the Government by the importer.
(j) Delivery withheld until marked
No imported article held in customs custody for inspection, examination, or appraisement shall be delivered until such article and every other article of the importation (or their containers), whether or not released from customs custody, shall have been marked in accordance with the requirements of this section or until the amount of duty estimated to be payable under subsection (i) of this section has been deposited. Nothing in this section shall be construed as excepting any article (or its container) from the particular requirements of marking provided for in any other provision of law.
(k) Treatment of goods of NAFTA country
(1) Application of section
In applying this section to an article that qualifies as a good of a NAFTA country (as defined in section 3301(4) of this title) under the regulations issued by the Secretary to implement Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement—
(A) the exemption under subsection (a)(3)(H) of this section shall be applied by substituting “reasonably know” for “necessarily know”;
(B) the Secretary shall exempt the good from the requirements for marking under subsection (a) of this section if the good—
(i) is an original work of art, or
(ii) is provided for under subheading 6904.10, heading 8541, or heading 8542 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States; and
(C) subsection (b) of this section does not apply to the usual container of any good described in subsection (a)(3)(E) or (I) of this section or subparagraph (B)(i) or (ii) of this paragraph.
(2) Petition rights of NAFTA exporters and producers regarding marking determinations
For purposes of this paragraph:
(i) The term “adverse marking decision” means a determination by the Customs Service which an exporter or producer of merchandise believes to be contrary to Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
(ii) A person may not be treated as the exporter or producer of merchandise regarding which an adverse marking decision was made unless such person—
(I) if claiming to be the exporter, is located in a NAFTA country and is required to maintain records in that country regarding exportations to NAFTA countries; or
(II) if claiming to be the producer, grows, mines, harvests, fishes, traps, hunts, manufactures, processes, or assembles such merchandise in a NAFTA country.
(B) Intervention or petition regarding adverse marking decisions
If the Customs Service makes an adverse marking decision regarding any merchandise, the Customs Service shall, upon written request by the exporter or producer of the merchandise, provide to the exporter or producer a statement of the basis for the decision. If the exporter or producer believes that the decision is not correct, it may intervene in any protest proceeding initiated by the importer of the merchandise. If the importer does not file a protest with regard to the decision, the exporter or producer may file a petition with the Customs Service setting forth—
(i) a description of the merchandise; and
(ii) the basis for its claim that the merchandise should be marked as a good of a NAFTA country.
(C) Effect of determination regarding decision
If, after receipt and consideration of a petition filed by an exporter or producer under subparagraph (B), the Customs Service determines that the adverse marking decision—
(i) is not correct, the Customs Service shall notify the petitioner of the determination and all merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, more than 30 days after the date that notice of the determination under this clause is published in the weekly Custom Bulletin shall be marked in conformity with the determination; or
(ii) is correct, the Customs Service shall notify the petitioner that the petition is denied.
(D) Judicial review
For purposes of judicial review, the denial of a petition under subparagraph (C)(ii) shall be treated as if it were a denial of a petition of an interested party under section 1516 of this title regarding an issue arising under any of the preceding provisions of this section.
Any person who, with intent to conceal the information given thereby or contained therein, defaces, destroys, removes, alters, covers, obscures, or obliterates any mark required under the provisions of this chapter shall—
(1) upon conviction for the first violation of this subsection, be fined not more than $100,000, or imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both; and
(2) upon conviction for the second or any subsequent violation of this subsection, be fined not more than $250,000, or imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.