Mr. D. F. Paine
Quality Assurance Coordinator
Dunlop International Technology Ltd.
Post Office Box 504
Erdington, Birmingham B24 9QH, England

Dear Mr. Paine:

Your letter telefaxed on October 2, 1996 to Ms. Jeanette Greenfield of this agency has been referred to this office for reply.

You stated that one of Dunlop's overseas divisions, Dunlop Zambia Ltd., although not intending to export tires to the United States, wishes to "DOT mark its Light and Heavy Truck tire ranges to satisfy a local commercial requirement." You asked whether a manufacturer's identification mark can be assigned to Dunlop Zambia without a resident agent being appointed in the United States or prior to a resident agent being appointed. The answer is no.

Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 574, Tire Identification and Recordkeeping (copy enclosed), requires at section 574.5 that a tire manaufacturer place a tire identification number on the sidewall of each tire it manufactures. The purpose of this requirement is to facilitate the recall of tires that are found to be in noncompliance with applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards or that are found to contain a safety defect. The first group of digits in the tire identification number is the manufacturer's identification mark or code, issued in accordance with section 574.6. That code is intended to provide both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the manufacturer the ability to identify the plant in which the defective tires were produced. Thus, issuance of a manufacturer's identification code to one that does not intend to market tires in the United States would not serve the purpose of the tire identification number.

You mentioned in your letter that you have a copy of 49 CFR Part 551, which in pertinent part requires each foreign producer of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to appoint a resident agent in the United States for the service of legal process. To enforce that provision, it has long been NHTSA policy not to assign a manufacturer's identification mark unless the manufacturer has appointed a resident agent in the United States.

For the reasons stated above, NHTSA cannot at this time assign a manufacturer's identification code to Dunlop Zambia. If in the future Dunlop Zambia desires to export tires to the United States and files a valid designation of a resident agent, NHTSA will assign a manufacturer's identification code at that time.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have any further questions or require any additional information, please feel free to contact Walter Myers of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992, or fax (202) 366-3820.


John Womack

Acting Chief Counsel