CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 960428 HMC

Port Director of Customs
112 W. Stutsman St.
Pembina, ND 58271

RE: PRD 3401-96-10071; Grilles and Diffusers; Subheadings 8481.80 and 8302.41; Section XV, Note 1 (f); Section XVI, Note 1(k); General Explanatory Note to Section XV; Explanatory Note to Chapter 84; Explanatory Note 8481; Other Articles of Iron or Steel; Other Articles of Aluminum; Other Base Metal Mountings, Fittings and Similar Articles Suitable for Buildings; Taps, Cocks, Valves and Similar Appliances; NY A86457 Affirmed.

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 3401-96-10071, filed against your classification of grilles and diffusers. The earliest entry under protest was liquidated on June 28, 1996, and this protest timely filed on September 20, 1996.


The merchandise under protest are grilles and diffusers (grilles) designed to be fitted on ceilings or walls at the ends of heating, ventilating and air conditioning ducts. The grilles are imported in circular, square and rectangular shapes, and some of the models have movable slats or louvers that open and close to control air flow.

The grilles were entered and liquidated based on New York Ruling (NY) A86457, dated August 8, 1996, which classified the same merchandise, according to the constituent material, as either other articles of iron or steel under subheading 7326.90.85, or as other articles of aluminum, under subheading 7616.99.50 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Protestant disagreed with NY A86457 and Customs classification of the merchandise and filed a Protest.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

7326 Other articles of iron or steel: 7326.90 Other: Other: Other: 7326.90.85 Other

* * * *

7616 Other articles of aluminum: Other: 7616.99 Other: 7616.99.50 Other

* * * * 8302 Base metal mountings, fittings and similar articles suitable for furniture, doors, staircases, windows, blinds, coachwork, saddlery, trunks, chests, caskets or the like; base metal hat racks, hat-pegs, brackets and similar fixtures; castors with mountings of base metal; automatic door closers of base metal; and base metal parts thereof: Other mountings, fittings and similar articles, and parts thereof: 8302.41 Suitable for buildings: Other: 8302.41.60 Of iron or steel, of aluminum or of zinc

* * * * 8481 Taps, cocks, valves and similar appliances, for pipes, boiler shells, tanks, vats or the like, including pressure-reducing valves and thermostatically controlled valves; parts thereof: Other appliances: Hand operated: 8481.80.30 Of iron or steel 8481.80.50 Of other materials


Whether the grilles are classifiable as other mountings, fittings and similar articles under subheading 8302.41.60, HTSUS; as other appliances, hand operated under subheading 8481.80, HTSUS; or as other articles of aluminum or of iron or steel under subheadings 7326.90.85 or 7616.99.50, HTSUS.


Merchandise is classifiable under the HTSUS in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

In NY A86457, dated August 8, 1996, protestant received a prospective ruling which classified the grilles, according to their constituent material under subheadings 7326.90.85 or 7616.99.50. In a letter, dated August 26, 1996, protestant argued that the merchandise should have been classified instead as valves or similar appliances under subheading 8481.80. In a later submission, dated January 6, 1997, protestant made the alternative claim that not all of the grilles were classifiable under subheading 8481.80 and that the merchandise is better described in subheading 8302.41.60, HTSUS, as other mountings, fittings and similar articles, suitable for buildings. Note 1(f) to Section XV, HTSUS, which includes Chapters 73, 76 and 83, states that "[t]his section does not cover articles of section XVI (machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical goods)." Note 1(k) to Section XVI, which includes Chapter 84, states that "[t]his section does not cover articles of [C]hapter 82 or 83."

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

General EN to Section XV, HTSUS, states that

[e]ach of the Chapters 72 to 76 and 78 to 81 covers particular unwrought base metals and products of those metals such as bars, rods, wire or sheets, as well as articles thereof, except certain specified articles of base metal which, without regard to the nature of the constituent metal, are classified in Chapter 82 or 83, these Chapters being limited to the specified articles.

To support its contention that the merchandise is described by heading 8302, protestant cites the Concise Oxford's [sic] Dictionary. Protestant states that the word "fittings" is defined as "the fixtures and fitments of a building," and the word "fixtures" as "something fixed or fastened in position;" "articles attached to a house or land and regarded as legally part of it." Protestant argues that, based on these definitions, the grilles are considered fittings of heading 8302 because they are permanently attached to a wall or ceiling.

We disagree with protestant's contention that the grilles are described by heading 8302. Heading 8302 provides for base metal mountings, fittings and similar articles suitable for furniture, doors, staircases, windows, blinds, coachwork, saddlery, trunks, chests, caskets or the like. We note protestant's definition of the word "fittings." However, we find that the term "fittings" must be read in conjunction with the rest of the words of heading 8302. The words "suitable for furniture, doors, staircases, windows, blinds, coachwork, saddlery, trunks, chests, caskets or the like" qualify the meaning of "fittings." In the context of heading 8302, the term "fittings" do not include the subject grilles because they will not be attached to any object like the ones mentioned in the heading. Moreover, they are not like any of the items enumerated in EN 83.02. The grilles are thus not described by heading 8302.

In the alternative, protestant claims that the grilles are described by heading 8481, and cites Appeal No. AP-95-096 (August 14, 1996), a decision by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, to support its contention. We must then determine if the merchandise are valves of heading 8481. General EN to Chapter 84, at page 1233 states that "[i]n general, Chapter 84 covers machinery and mechanical apparatus and Chapter 85 electrical goods. Furthermore, EN 84.81 states that heading 8481

covers taps, cocks, valves and similar appliances, used on pipes, tanks, vats or the like to regulate the flow (for supply, discharge, etc.) of fluids (liquid, viscous or gaseous), or, in certain cases, of solids (e.g. sand).

EN 84.81 further states that the

appliances regulate the flow by opening or closing an aperture (e.g., gate, disc, ball, plug, needle or diaphragm)."

In this instance, we believe that the grilles do not meet the above definition of "valves and similar appliances." The grilles are devices which have slats or louvers that open and close in some models. The grilles are neither parts of machinery nor mechanical appliances, nor do they possess a mechanism like the articles of Chapter 84. The ENs provide examples of the kind of items that are included in valves. Accordingly, a valve must contain movable elements like a gate, disc, ball, plug, needle or diaphragm. The grilles in this instance do not possess such a device. Furthermore, they do not have matching seats for the movable elements needed to regulate air flow. The slats of the merchandise at issue do not regulate gas flow as envisioned by the ENs, but simply direct the flow of air as it exits an air duct. Therefore, the grilles are not valves described by heading 8481. In the absence of a more specific provision, the grilles are instead articles described by heading 7326, if of iron or steel, or by heading 7616, if of aluminum. We do not agree with the Canadian International Trade Tribunal decision. A foreign ruling is merely instructive of how others may classify like goods and does not bind classification upon importation into the United States. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989). NY A86457 is affirmed.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the grilles and diffusers are provided for in headings 7326 and 7616, HTSUS. If made of steel, they are classifiable under subheadings 7326.90.85, HTSUS, as "Other articles of iron or steel: Other: Other: Other: Other. If made of aluminum, they are classifiable under subheading 7616.99.50, HTSUS, as "Other articles of aluminum: Other: Other: Other.

This protest should be DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you should mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.

Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division