What Does "Made in the USA" Mean?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 29 June 2019
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The term "made in the USA" is often used in reference to products that originate from the United States of America. Use of the similar term "made in USA" is actually regulated by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which can also investigate any express, or implied, claims about the origins of various manufactured goods. Certain categories of products are legally required to carry a label that states country of origin, while others simply use "made in the USA" emblems as selling points. Some people are concerned about the loss of US manufacturing jobs, so they often seek out products that are labeled that way. It is also a common practice to refer to certain products as having been "assembled in the US" from foreign components.

Many countries have regulations that govern the labeling of products in regards to the specific country of origin. Some require this type of labeling, others do not, and there are sometimes strict regulations that state when such labels can be used. In the United States, some products must have these labels, while it is simply an option in other cases. Automobiles, textiles, and furs are examples of products that need country of origin labels, though many other products are marketed as "made in the USA" by choice.


In the United States, the FTC regulates all usage of the term "made in USA" in addition to similar phrases and claims. Terms such as "American-made" and "made in the USA" are all seen to be express claims of origin when used on products or in marketing materials. The FTC also regulates implied claims, such as advertising that suggests an item is produced in the USA without actually saying so. In order to make legal claims about country of origin, the FTC requires "all or virtually all" component parts of a manufactured good to have originated in the United States.

Companies often use terms such as "American-made" "made in the USA" as marketing tools to attract certain groups of consumers. Some people are concerned about the decline of the manufacturing sector in the United States, which causes them to seek out domestically produced items. In order to market to this segment of the population, some companies also label their products as having been "assembled in the US" from foreign components. The FTC also regulates that practice, and manufactured goods are required to undergo a substantial transformation in the United States in order to use that label. Several methods can be used to identify whether a substantial transformation has taken place, though manufactured goods will typically qualify if they have undergone a change in tariff classification due to the assembly process.



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