FTC, Know The Difference Between Made in USA and Assembled in USA?

Know The Difference Between Made in USA and Assembled in USA

Made in USA. Three little words, with a not so little impact! These days, some companies will do anything to hide where their products are actually manufactured.  And they are getting clever. Companies will label their products as “Distributed By ABC Corp” and list a US address.  Others will label their products as “Produced By ABC Corp” and list a US address, seeking to obscure the origin of its products.  Some will only show the company name and address on the packages!

american made products, Know The Difference Between Made in USA and Assembled in USA?

Made in USA

The product is assembled in the U.S. Most parts or materials are Made in USA. For a product to be called Made in USA, it must be “all or virtually all” made in the United States. This includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. “All or virtually all” means that all significant parts and processing must be of U.S. origin. The product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.

Made in USA with Foreign & Domestic Components

Some materials or parts are Made in USA

Assembled in USA 

Imported parts put together in the USA

Packaging displays U.S.A. Flag, U.S.A. Map, the words “U.S.A.” or “American” are part of the brand name

This is an implied statement of American origin. Look for the fine print to see where the product was actually made. Without such a statement it is questionable at best.

Distributed for, Manufactured for, or a Product of (COMPANY NAME)

Since this has no statement of American origin, actual or implied, it cannot be considered to be USA made.

It’s too easy to add Made in USA stickers to a Foreign made product to make them appear to be USA made. Not to mention that falsely labeling a product as USA made is against the law.

What is a qualified Made in USA claim?

A qualified claim describes the extent, amount or type of a product’s domestic content or processing; it indicates that the product isn’t entirely of domestic origin.

EXAMPLE: 
  • “60% U.S. content”
  • “Made in USA of U.S. and imported parts”
  • “Couch assembled in USA from Italian Leather and Mexican Frame”

Of course, one of the best ways to know if the brand is Made in USA is if they are MAM Approved! Get MAM Approved by becoming a MAM Member today. Find out how!

WHY MADE IN USA MATTERS

Your customers will ask for USA-Made products because they know American manufacturing is a big deal – it supports over 17 million jobs across the country and contributes over 12% to U.S. GDP. Buying products with the Made in USA label keeps those jobs going, and keeps our economy thriving. And, when you buy a product made in the USA, you can be sure you’re getting American quality and not a cheap, foreign knock-off. So be ready to show customers you’re Made in USA products. Learn more about MAM Membership.

Have you come across some creative, yet deceitful labeling?  Let us know in the comments below.  If you have pictures, email them to us!

Source – US Federal Trade Commission

Updated: February 2019

Author Details
Established in 2010, The Made in America Movement is the leading independently owned, non-partisan organization promoting businesses in the USA, reaching over 520,000 American consumers.
37 replies
  1. ANTHONY M FALBO
    ANTHONY M FALBO says:

    Excellent article. 100% correct. When we worked in Niagara Falls, someone brought up a stuffed animal and we looked at the tag. A big blue tag with a bald eagle and above it’s head it read “USA”, fine print said “Made In China”. Despicable!

    Reply
  2. sw
    sw says:

    I am on the phone with Amazon as I write this, asking them why the people they allow to sell on their site are not required to put down country of origin. Even Ebay makes you do that. And when asked skirt around and give you fiber counts and how soft the foam is??? Shouldn’t they be required to make suppliers enter this information when listing??

    Reply
  3. Debra Zamost
    Debra Zamost says:

    I worked in a plant that made plastics. It was assembled in the USA but the materials came from China. I quit that job

    Reply
  4. Nate M.
    Nate M. says:

    I used to work at Walmart in the electronics department, and we sold TVs from a company called “Element.” On each box was a very prominently displayed logo in red, white, and blue that said “Assembled in the USA.” Very misleading to our customers, but after a while they started to catch on to what it really meant. Elsewhere on the box in small print was, you guessed it, “parts made in China” or something to that end. Then again, this shouldn’t be much of a shock coming from the land of all things foreign-made.

    Reply
  5. Ethelred1
    Ethelred1 says:

    If we had a political system staffed by people who represented the American people instead of business interests, especially Wall Street, there would be clear legislatively mandated marks, but don’t expect that since they refuse to do it on food, etc. BTW, the two non-Trump Republican presidential candidates have either worked or had a spouse who had lucrative jobs at Wall Street banks, and Ms. Clinton is joined at the hip to Wall Street, a slight example being the munificent fees for speeches at places like Goldman, Sachs while ha! these rich, sophisticated people hang on her every word so as not to miss any of her sage advice.

    On the general subject of distinguishing foreign goods, the World Trade Assn. ruled within the last year that unless the US wanted to pay about $250 million (per year?) to Canada and Mexico we could no longer force meat importers from those countries to show the origin of that meat, and the U.S. immediately caved by agreeing not to do so, although it may not yet be in effect because the administrative side is moving at the usual glacial pace of the D.C. employees-for-life. But, none of it may matter since there’s been a law for a number of years that meat and fish at retail has to show the country of origin, and I ask you how often do you see such a label in your supermarket?

    Reply
  6. Janet Skinner
    Janet Skinner says:

    Didnt I just recently hear that the good_for_nothings on Capital Hill passed something saying that we will no longer have labeling telling us where the mewilin grocery stores comes from ? I dont know about the rest of you but this frightens me !!

    Reply
  7. Kim
    Kim says:

    Can anyone help me with the definition of Product of USA? I’ve looked for how that differs from Manufactured in the USA and can’t find the distinction. Thank you!!

    Reply
  8. Ronraugie
    Ronraugie says:

    Why can’t Boy Scouts of America uniforms be made in the USA? The used to be. There is still an American Labor merit badge for BSA, I’ve taught it before when my shirt had an union label in the right hand shirt pocket. Not anymore.

    Reply
    • Donna
      Donna says:

      I don’t know how old you are but in the 70’s the ILGWU had a commercial with a jingle with the line “look for the union label in your coat, dress or blouse.” It was a catchy tune but I remember my parents looking for American labels in clothing. That was a time when consumers and companies had pride in American products. Now it’s how much cheap, brightly colored, plastic crap can China sell to retailers thereby Americans. NFTA and allowing China into the WTO and the TPP caused manufacturing jobs in our country to leave. If you listened carefully when these agreements were signed you could hear a sucking sound of manufacturing going overseas.

      Reply
  9. Lori
    Lori says:

    I’ve been seeing that the dog food labels are starting this “crafted” ? Trying to find food labeling is getting more time consuming! It should not take that long so many ways they list I’ve just been putting back on the shelf

    Reply
  10. Mary Beckstrom
    Mary Beckstrom says:

    I bought some “StriVectin-SD” from Zulily and it says “manufactured in the USA” yet the one I bought at Macy’s says Made in the USA. Now I am afraid to use it.

    Reply
  11. Ronn Dunnett
    Ronn Dunnett says:

    In my industry there is a heavy reliance on imported metal parts. Part of the reason for that goes beyond just the price – there are also elements of expertise and quality and that is important to me. I wanted to maintain some level of North American content, so I moved some of my production to the USA. Now my products provide work for some Americans. It is a global economy and that is how it works in my industry. I realize there are those who try various ways to cheat the system, but at the same time, if there is a US component to the manufacturing process and I want my customers to understand that and I place very specific qualified Made in USA claims on the products I am playing by the rules and I am not trying to be deceptive. I genuinely value the craftsmanship that my USA team instills in the product. Why wouldn’t I want that known and where is the shame in that?

    Reply
    • Alix James
      Alix James says:

      Exactly Ron! We do as well. We source what we can in the USA (injection molded parts) but in the electronics industry there is no way to buy displays and components that aren’t foreign sourced.

      Reply
  12. Rick Smith
    Rick Smith says:

    Solid Wood Cabinets are built in China. I didn’t find out until they were delivered in boxes that said “Made in China”. The store has American flag stickers all over with a very small “Built in” written over the very large “USA”. I just wish I could remember if the sales person ever said the words “Made in USA”. When I complained, the Customer Service Rep was very quick to correct that the cabinets were built in the USA. It was obvious they had this type of complaint in the past and just as obvious that they are peddling a product to consumers by making them believe it is American made. The cabinets do appear to be well made with all plywood construction but what are they gassing off?

    Reply
  13. Steve Jacobs
    Steve Jacobs says:

    I bought a toilet seat from Lowe’s that says ‘American Made’ and ‘Assembled in the USA. First off, according to the FTC, American Made and Made In USA etc are interchangeable.

    But why would they say it was made in the USA then say it was assembled in the USA? For a big company like Kohler it just seems like something is off.

    And regarding your post about what Assembled in the USA means – what you stated left out the context.

    According to FTC: “A product that includes foreign components may be called “Assembled in USA” without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last “substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S. That’s why a “screwdriver” assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at the end of the manufacturing process doesn’t usually qualify for the “Assembled in USA” claim.”

    Which makes me question how you actually qualify for the Assembled classification.

    Mostly though I don’t see how Kohler claims both.

    Reply
    • LonnyRambles
      LonnyRambles says:

      These days “American Made” means “North America” (either Canada, USA, or Mexico), not just the USA! Some lawyer somewhere is most likely patting themselves on the back for that one!

      Reply
  14. msmith954
    msmith954 says:

    FTC regulations are vague and are not enforced evenly.

    A French company can import parts from China, assemble them in France and label it “Made in France”… then export to the USA, and our Customs laws are totally fine with this. But, American producers are penalized with having to make qualified statements.

    Being absolutist about claiming “Made in USA” hurts American manufacturers. It puts them at a competitive disadvantage. Some component parts for certain products are not available here, and need to be imported. Be glad someone is building products here with imported or domestic parts. If they can’t claim it, then one of the advantages of doing it here goes away… building overseas becomes even more tempting.

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Reply
  15. Vivifiant
    Vivifiant says:

    I think “Made in USA” should be clearly marked on food items from the USA.
    This would allow health conscient consumers in the USA and Europeans avoiding to buy inadvertently generically modified foods.

    Reply
  16. Silvia Kusel
    Silvia Kusel says:

    I recently purchased a mattress by Serta I Comfort Blue Max 1000 Plush, the label has Blue Max 1000 PS Zip. Part# 500801368-150 Queen Mattress. The law label reads its assembled in the USA. I purchased it from a retailer, The Mattress Center, it says Made By: SSB Manufacturing in Moreno Valley, CA. I asked the sales rep if it was manufactured in Ca and he said yes, but from reading other vendors online, some have Made in USA, why doesn’t this law label say the same? the law label was also not stiched on, it had a blank piece stiched on and the adhesive label stuck to it. I just want to make sure that the product is what it is and not a knock off.

    Reply
  17. Erick Packer
    Erick Packer says:

    ACCOR Technogy East Wenatchee WA. advertises 100% made in America, most parts come from over seas. False advertising.

    Reply
  18. Karen Roman
    Karen Roman says:

    Important to do something about the Chinese Trade Rules! Americans – you and me – got shafted by NAFTA – Very unfair to Americans! Some Politicians are – get ready for this….. are ACTUALLY working to correct our bad trade deals made long ago with China!

    Reply
    • Christa
      Christa says:

      What do you think NAFTA is?

      Below are some questions you might want to explore:
      How have Americans as a whole been shafted by NAFTA? Have Americans as a whole possibly gained something from it? Are there historically more advantages or disadvantages to NAFTA? Also, given the context of your comment… What does China have to do with North American Free Trade Agreement?

      Reply
  19. Mike
    Mike says:

    Trump is trying Straighten out what past presidents ignored if we could get Democrats on board we would make America great again

    Reply
  20. Robyn Readicker
    Robyn Readicker says:

    I work for the manufacturer that qualifies as the ONLY MADE IN THE USA MASSAGE CHAIRS (from US and imported parts) in the Massage Chair category.

    Every other massage chair on the market comes from Asia (mostly made in a few factories in China and then put different brands on them). We deal with this every day with some competitors telling consumers that we are not a US made massage chair and now companies claiming “Made in Japan” (even though the chairs are made in China and are shipping to Japan). Our guess is that we will see more of this as the 25% tarrifs come in to play.

    We have a very challenging category and we are now trying to find out if Japan has rules similar to the US which defines what is “Made in Japan” mean? Still doing our Google searches… :)

    Reply

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