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Why Do My Goods Need to be Marked with the Country of Origin?

Clean paint brushes labeled as made in Germany.

Receiving a marking notice from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could cost your company a lot of money. It might result in additional expenses in trucking fees and third-party warehouse service fees to unload your cargo. Not to mention, the added cost to correct the unmarked, or inaccurately marked, merchandise. In addition, you would not be able to sell your goods until they were properly marked, which would cause delays or lost sales. Eventually, if you unmark or inaccurately mark future orders, CBP may step up exams, issue penalties, or assess a 10% marking duty on your products.

Why do my goods need to be marked?

Under Reasonable Care, CBP requires the importer to establish reliable procedures to verify that their merchandise is properly marked with the correct country of origin—upon entry—and that it matches CBP’s documents.

When do my marking obligations start?

Your responsibility begins prior to importing, as the goods must be correctly marked when they are imported into the United Sates. Therefore, it is important to give your vendors clear guidance on how to mark and label your goods, in order to meet the country of origin marking requirements.

What options do I have, if CBP discovers my goods are not marked?

You have three options.

  • Re-export the goods.
  • Destroy them.
  • Mark the goods properly using one of the CBP’s acceptable methods.

Any unmarked goods released into the commerce of the U.S. may be subjected to marking duties and penalties by CBP.

What steps should I take under Reasonable Care to prevent marking issues?

  • Work with your marketing group when they are developing new products and packaging, in addition to making changes to existing packaging.
  • Notify your vendors, in writing, of the country of origin marking requirements for the product, packaging, and Customs documentation.
  • Establish procedures to verify the correct country of origin is on the entry and Customs documents. Also, confirm the goods are properly marked when they are received at the warehouse.
  • If any errors are discovered, take immediate steps to document and correct them.

By Jim Trubits, Vice President

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