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Footwear Labeling & Marking Requirements:

The Basics

  • The requirements for marking and labeling imported merchandise with the country of origin are found in Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. § 1304.
  • Articles of foreign origin must be legibly, permanently and conspicuously marked to disclose the country of origin to an ultimate purchaser in the United States.
  • If an article is not marked at the time of importation and it is not marked, destroyed or exported prior to distribution into commerce, an additional duty of 10% ad valorem will be imposed. concealing, defacing, destroying, removing or altering a country-of-origin mark is a criminal offense.
  • The country-of-origin mark must survive importation and distribution from the importer to the ultimate purchaser. Generally, the ultimate purchaser is the last person in the United States who will receive the article in its condition as imported. When the importer is considered the ultimate purchaser, the mark need not survive transfer by the importer. The two typical situations where the importer is considered the ultimate purchaser are: 1) when the importer consumes the imported product; and 2) when the importer manufactures the imported product into a new article but only if the manufacturing process results in the substantial transformation of the imported article. Other than articles subject to the Textile Products Identification Act, imported articles which are substantially transformed after importation, are no longer subject to country-of-origin marking requirements.

The Marking

  • To satisfy Section 304, a country-of-origin mark must be legible, conspicuous and permanent. The requirement of legibility is satisfied by a marking having a size and clarity adequate for easy reading by a person of normal vision.
  • The degree of permanency necessary is that sufficient to ensure that the mark will remain on the imported article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser. A mark which will not remain in the article during handling and is likely to fall off for any reason, except deliberate removal, is not acceptable.       Stickers are acceptable if they have the appropriate degree of permanency.
  • The mark must be conspicuous. This means that the mark must be accessible in the course of normal handling. There is no requirement that the mark be in the most conspicuous place. The following sites are acceptable for country-of-origin marking on footwear.
    • One inch from inside top of tongue
    • Near inside topline
    • Heel seat
    • Sole
    • Arch
    • Side of tongue if near top.
  • The mark must disclose the English name of the country of origin.
  • Abbreviations that unmistakably indicate the name of a country, such as Gt. Britain, are acceptable. On the other hand, Gt. Brit. and N.Z. have been held not acceptable.

Misleading References

  • Special rules apply to imported articles that refer to a location other than the country of origin, such as a reference to the address of the United States distributor. Section 134.46 of the Customs Regulations requires that the country of origin appear in close proximity and in letters of at least equal size when the reference “may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin of the article.”
  • Section 134.47 of the Customs Regulations sets forth a similar rule for registered trademarks and trade names that have the same potential. The requirement here is that the country-of-origin mark be either in close proximity or some other conspicuous location. As a practical matter, the rule for symbols and other non-textual statements is the same as for trademarks.
  • These rules are applied rigorously for footwear. Any reference to a place other than the country or origin, no matter how bland, will require the origin in close proximity.

Sanctions

  • Failure to observe the country-of-origin marking requirements can lead to one or more of the following sanctions.
  1. Denial of Delivery/Seizure
  2. Marking Penalties
  3. Redelivery Notices – Liquidated Damages

For additional information or tailored labeling consulting services, please contact FDRA directly at info@fdra.org.