Mid-USA Motorcycle Parts
4937 Fyler Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63139
Dear Mr. Hannon:
This is in reply to your e-mail messages of May 24 and May 26, 1996, with respect to the importation of motorcycle taillamps.
You inform us that a shipment of taillamps has been seized by the U.S. Customs Service on the grounds that, as you expressed it, "the company doesn't have a letter on file that states that we are authorized to import this commodity." You state that one of the part numbers seized by Customs are "restoration pieces that are meant to be used on pre-1964 motorcycles" while the other "probably needs some sort of DOT specs. on the lens since it is designed for use on 1973 & newer" motorcycles. You have asked what you need to do to import taillamps that meet DOT standards and how you may obtain information on those standards.
This agency administers 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 - Motor Vehicle Safety and the regulations that have been issued under its authority, such as 49 C.F.R. 571.108, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment. There is nothing in these laws that require an importer of motor vehicle equipment to obtain a letter from us stating that it is authorized to import motor vehicle equipment such as replacement taillamps. The obligation of the importer is to ensure that the product it wishes to import has been manufactured in compliance with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards, and bears the manufacturer's certification. This certification is either a DOT symbol on the item itself, or a label or tag attesting to compliance of the item, either on the item or on the container in which it is shipped. This requirement applies to replacement taillamps for use on motorcycles manufactured on and after January 1, 1972, and therefore applies to model years 1973 and later. The standard that applied in 1973 to motorcycle taillamps is SAE Standard J585c , Tail Lamps, June 1966. I enclose a copy for your information.
Replacement taillamps for use on motorcycles manufactured before January 1, 1972, are not required to meet any Federal requirement in order to be imported and sold. Because these taillamps (particularly those for model years that occurred only shortly before 1972) may resemble those required to comply with Standard No. 108, it is understandable that Customs might seek to
prevent their entry. In order to prevent confusion and possible violations by the importer, we recommend that such equipment be labeled as not for use on motorcycles manufactured on and after January 1, 1972. Your willingness to attach labels stating that the tail lamps are not "to be used on 1964-newer motorcycles" more than meets our recommendation, and we have no objection to your importing this equipment under this circumstance. Perhaps this assurance will be sufficient for Customs to release your merchandise after you have applied the labels to them.
Under Chapter 301, a foreign manufacturer of lighting equipment is required to designate an agent in the United States for service of process . Because we do not know the name of your supplier, we do not know whether it has complied with this requirement. However, we do not understand that this is the type of letter that Customs feels is lacking.
If you have any questions about this matter, you may phone Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel
Enclosure ref:108#591 d:6/18/96 2