CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965580AM
Area Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
Suite 2100, 1000 2nd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104-1020
RE: Donor Care® and Samp Lok® for use with blood collection sets and Platypus® AV fistula needle gaurd
Dear Port Director:
The following is our decision regarding Internal Advice (02/008) which was initiated by letter dated March 7, 2002, by a customs broker on behalf of ITL Corporation Pty. Ltd., and seeks classification of needle guards used in the process of blood collection, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).
Donor Care® and Samp Lok® are used in conjunction with one another in the collection of blood from a patient. A Donor Care® needle guard is made of two interlocking pieces of molded plastic. When closed, it is about 3 inches long and .7 inches in diameter. The needle guard is clipped over the blood collection tubing and slid over the needle hub after venipuncture. Thus, the needle guard aids in stabilizing the needle during blood collection. When finished, the needle is withdrawn from the patient into the needle guard. The needle guard is then locked into the Samp Lok®, a tubular molded piece of plastic, and discarded. The guard reduces the risk of needle stick injury and facilitates a safe, fast needle withdrawal in an emergency situation.
The Platypus® AV fistula needle guard is also made of two interlocking pieces of molded plastic. When joined they form a cylinder about 2.7 inches long and .5 inches in diameter and the flat end resembles the bill of a platypus. It too is placed over the tubing used for patients with arterio-venous (AV) fistulas. An AV fistula is a surgically created large venous access for patients who undergo repeated procedures such as hemodialysis or apheresis. After the procedure, the needle is withdrawn and locked into the guard. The guard reduces the risk of needle stick injury and protects the healthcare worker from blood drops.
What is the correct classification of Donor Care® and Samp Lok® for use with blood collection sets and Platypus® AV fistula needle guards?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Merchandise imported into the United States is classified under the HTSUS. Tariff classification is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context which requires otherwise, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUS and are to be considered statutory provisions of law for all purposes.
GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order. GRI 6 requires that the classification of goods in the subheadings of headings shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings, any related subheading notes and mutatis mutandis, to the GRIs. In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System may be utilized. The ENs, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (August 23, 1989).
The HTSUS headings under consideration are as follows:
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, including scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments; parts and accessories thereof:
Syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like; parts and accessories thereof:
* * * * * * * *
9018.32.00 Tubular metal needles and needles for sutures and parts and accessories thereof
* * * * * * * *
9018.90 Other instruments and appliances and parts and accessories thereof:
Chapter 90, note 2(a) is inapplicable. Note 2(b) states that "other parts and accessories if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine, instrument of apparatus, or with a number of machines, instruments or apparatus of the same heading (including a machine, instrument or apparatus of heading 9010, 9013 or 9031) are to be classified with the machines, instruments or apparatus of that kind."
There is no dispute at the heading level as the goods, all items that cover various needles associated with patient care, are used in the medical sciences. However, the importer requests classification of all three items in subheading 9018.90.80, HTSUS, as other instruments and appliances used in medical science and parts and accessories thereof. However, applying GRI 6, the preceding provisions must be given consideration before resorting to the provision for "other" instruments.
The term “accessory” is not defined in the HTSUS. Therefore, lexicographic definitions may be used. Rollerblade, Inc. v. United States, 116 F. Supp. 2d 1247, .1252 (2000 Ct. Int’l Trade). The Rollerblade court cites several of these definitions, but the one most germane to the instant case is the following: “something extra added to help in a secondary way: . . .b) a piece of optional equipment for convenience, comfort, etc.” Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language 4 (2d Concise Ed. 1978)(cited in Rollerblade, at 1252). Furthermore, the court emphasizes that an accessory “must serve a purpose subordinate to, but also in direct relationship to the thing they accessorize." Id.
By their nature as guards to needles, all three devices are optional pieces of equipment that provide for the safety, comfort and convenience of the health care worker and the patient. The needle guards serve a direct and subordinate role to the function of the needle: they stabilize the used needle during withdrawal from the patient and cover it. Therefore, the instant merchandise is not an accessory to an “other instrument” but rather an accessory to "needles" described eo nomine in subheading 9018.32, HTSUS. The needle guards are completely and specifically provided for in subheading 9018.32.00, HTSUS, and therefore consideration of later provisions is not necessary.
Lastly, the customs broker submitted, for our consideration, a determination made by a foreign customs service classifying the device in subheading 9018.90, under the Harmonized Tariff System. However, such foreign determinations are merely instructive of how others may classify like goods. Customs is not bound to abide by the determination of foreign customs services, especially where, as here, no rationale is provided for the finding and the item appears not to be identical to that described in the foreign customs service's determination. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (August 23, 1989).
Donor Care® and Samp Lok® for use with blood collection sets and Platypus® AV fistula needle guards are all classified in subheading 9018.32.00, HTSUS, the provision for "[I]nstruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, including scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments; parts and accessories thereof: Syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like; parts and accessories thereof: Tubular metal needles and needles for sutures and parts and accessories thereof.”
You are directed to mail this decision to the internal advice applicant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date 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.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other public methods of distribution.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division