U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final determination concerning the country of origin of tablet computers used in U.S. correctional institutions that may be offered to the U.S. government under undesignated government procurement contracts.

According to CBP, the item at issue is a custom-designed tablet assembled in China and shipped to the U.S. The chipset powering the tablet is manufactured in Taiwan and represents approximately 60 percent of the cost of the tablet’s hardware. The circuit and component layout for the motherboard is also made in Taiwan. The assembly process in China involves combining the components manufactured in Taiwan with a screen to make the finished tablet.

Upon importation the tablet is installed with a proprietary, custom-built version of the Android operating system containing security protections that control the tablet’s functionality,  communication capabilities, and applications allowed to be installed or run. This firmware is entirely developed, written, and installed in the U.S. Once it is installed the tablet cannot run regular Android applications.

In ruling HQ H325833, CBP concludes that the country of origin of these tablets is Taiwan. CBP states that the chipset powering the tablet and the circuit and component layout for the motherboard manufactured in Taiwan determine the tablet’s functionality and that Taiwan is thus where the last substantial transformation takes place. CBP states that the installation of the U.S.-developed firmware does not transform the tablet into another product with a new name, character, or use because the tablet as imported already has the system requirements that make it possible to install the firmware.

Any party-at-interest may seek judicial review of this determination by Oct. 11. CBP issues country of origin advisory rulings and final determinations as to whether an article is or would be a product of a designated country or instrumentality for the purposes of granting waivers of certain “Buy American” restrictions in U.S. law or practice for products offered for sale to the U.S. government. For more information on BAA requirements or restrictions, please contact Mark SegristMark Tallo, or Josh Rodman.

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