CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 961652 JAS
Port Director of Customs
477 Michigan Avenue, Suite 200
Detroit, Michigan 48226
RE: PRD 3801-97-102267; Seat Adjuster, Track and Frame Assembly for Adjusting an Automobile Seat; Subheading 9401.90.10, Parts of Seats of a Kind Used for Motor Vehicles; Subheading 8302.42.30, Base Metal Mountings and Fittings Suitable for Furniture; Other Parts and Accessories of Bodies; NY 815567
Dear Port Director:
This is our decision on Protest 3801-97-102267, filed against your classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of automobile seat adjusters. Except for entry ...354-2, which was liquidated on December 20, 1996, the entries under protest were liquidated on March 7, 1997, and, for those entries, this protest was timely filed on June 4, 1997. The protest is untimely for entry ...354-2, and is denied for that entry.
The merchandise in issue is identified on the Customs Form 6445 as a seat adjuster. It is pictured as a rectangular frame of base metal, open on one end, with a base metal connecting rod between the short sides. Designed to be bolted to the floor of an automobile, the device has a grooved track on one or both of the short sides that permits an automobile seat to move forward and reverse. A spring-loaded knob or lever allows the occupant to adjust the seat.
The seat adjuster was entered under a provision of HTS heading 9401 for parts of seats suitable for motor vehicles. Your office believes that the seat adjuster is a part of general use suitable for furniture, and liquidated the entry under the appropriate provision in HTS heading 8302.
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The provisions under consideration are as follows:
8302 Base metal mountings, fittings and similar articles for furniture...coachwork...; and base metal parts thereof:
8302.42 Other, suitable for furniture:
8302.42.30 Of iron or steel, of aluminum or of zinc
* * * *
8708 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705:
Other parts and accessories of bodies(including cabs):
* * * *
9401 Seats (other than those of heading 9402), whether or not convertible into beds, and parts thereof:
9401.90.10 Of seats of a kind used for motor vehicles
Whether seat adjusters for automobiles, as described, are
provided for in heading 8302; whether they are parts or accessories for tariff purposes.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified 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.
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As to heading 8302, the liquidated provision, the terms mountings and fittings are not defined in any legal note, nor do standard lexicons identify them in any detail sufficient to permit us to establish their common meaning. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes, which Customs always consults in examining the scope of an HTSUS provision, are likewise not helpful. The ENs list a variety of articles that are included within heading 8302; but, because these articles are not described, we are unable to compare them with the merchandise in this protest. The instant slide adjusters are designed to be bolted to the floor of an automobile. Because there is no indication that they are suitable for any of the articles named in the 8302 heading text, the applicability of that heading in this case is inconclusive.
As to the claim under heading 9401, a “part,” for tariff purposes, is an integral, constituent component of another article, necessary to the completion of the article with which it is used, and which enables that article to function in the manner for which it was designed. In this case, despite the fact an automobile seat can fit into a slide adjuster and be affixed thereto, it is not necessary to an automobile seat, which is otherwise complete and fully functional. Seat adjusters are not parts for tariff purposes.
Heading 8708 provides for parts and accessories for the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705. The heading covers articles identifiable as being suitable for use solely or principally with the above-mentioned vehicles, and which are not excluded by any applicable section or chapter note. Although a seat adjuster is bolted to the floor of a motor vehicle, it is not part of an automobile body for the same reason it is not a part under heading 9401. However, an “accessory,” for tariff purposes, is generally not necessary to the completion of the article it is used with. Accessories are of secondary importance, not essential in and of themselves. They must, however, add to the effectiveness of the article they are used with, for example, by making that article more convenient to use or by expanding its range of uses. Seat adjusters are not necessary to the completion of automotive bodies, but they expand the range of uses of automotive bodies by providing a base or frame for a seat. Only by being affixed to the floor can a seat adjuster provide stability and maneuverability to the seat. The seat adjusters are accessories for tariff purposes. Their design configuration leads us to conclude they are principally, if not solely for use with motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705.
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In NY 815567, dated November 2, 1995, substantially similar merchandise for go-carts was found to be classified in subheading 8708.29.50, HTSUS.
Under the authority of GRI 1, the seat adjusters are provided for in heading 8708. They are classifiable under subheading 8708.29.50, HTSUS, as other parts and accessories of bodies. Because the rate of duty under this provision is less than the liquidated rate, you should DENY the protest, except that reclassification of the seat adjusters as indicated results in a partial allowance.
In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to 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 make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.ustreas.gov, by means the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division