CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966450 KBR
P.O. Box 33472
Detroit, MI 48232
Attn: J. Reed
RE: HQ 961652 Revoked; Automobile Seat Adjuster
Dear J. Reed:
This is in reference to HQ 961652, issued to you, on January 11, 1999, on behalf of your client, Lear Seating Corporation, concerning Protest 3801-97-102267. This ruling concerned the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of an automobile seat adjuster. We have reviewed HQ 961652 and determined that the classification provided for the automobile seat adjuster is incorrect. This ruling sets forth the correct classification. This ruling has no effect on the entries which were subject of Protest 3801-97-102267.
Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed modification of NY H88554, as described below, was published in Volume 37, Number 32 of the Customs Bulletin on August 6, 2003. No comments were received with respect to the revocation of HQ 961652.
In HQ 961652, it was determined that the automobile seat adjuster was classifiable in subheading 8708.29.50, HTSUS, as parts and accessories of motor vehicles, other parts and accessories of bodies, other. We have reviewed that ruling and determined that the classification of the automobile seat adjuster is incorrect. This ruling sets forth the correct classification.
The article at issue in HQ 961652 was described as a rectangular frame of base metal, open on one end, with a base metal connecting rod between the short sides. The article was designed to be bolted to the floor of an automobile. There is 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.
Whether automobile seat adjusters are classifiable as parts of seats under heading 9401, HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). Under GRI 1, merchandise is classifiable according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.
The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
Base metal mountings, fittings and similar articles for
furniture...coachwork...; and base metal parts thereof:
Other mountings, fittings and similar articles suitable for motor vehicles; and parts thereof:
8302.30.30 Of iron or steel, of aluminum or zinc:
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):
Other parts and accessories:
* * * * *
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.
First, we look at whether, because they are involved in attaching a seat to a vehicle, the seat adjusters can be considered a “mounting” of heading 8302, HTSUS. Further, if the seat adjusters are classifiable in heading 8302, Section XVII, Note 2(b) excludes from heading 8708 parts of general use provided for in heading 8302.
“Parts of general use” are defined, for purposes of the entire HTSUS, in Note 2, Section XV, HTSUS, as including, among other things, base metal or plastic articles of heading 8302, HTSUS. Heading 8302 includes, among other things, base metal mountings, fittings and similar articles suitable for coachwork or the like.
Note 2 to Section XVII, which includes Chapter 87, provides, in pertinent part, that:
2. The expressions "parts" and "parts and accessories" do not apply to the following articles, whether or not they are identifiable as for the goods of this section:
* * *
(b) Parts of general use, as defined in note 2 to section XV, of base metal (section XV) or similar goods of plastics (chapter 39)[.]
Similarly, Note 1(d) to Chapter 94, HTSUS, provides, in pertinent part, that:
1. This chapter does not cover:
* * *
(d) Parts of general use, as defined in note 2 to section XV, of base metal (section XV), or similar goods of plastics (chapter 39)[.]
The general ENs to Section XV provide, in pertinent part, that:
C) PARTS OF ARTICLES
In general, identifiable parts of articles are classified as such parts in their appropriate headings in the Nomenclature.
However, parts of general use (as defined in Note 2 to this Section)
presented separately are not considered as parts of articles, but are classified in the headings of this Section appropriate to them. This would apply, for example, in the case of bolts specialised for central heating radiators or springs specialised for motor cars. The bolts would be classified in heading 73.18 (as bolts) and not in heading 73.22 (as parts of central heating radiators). The springs would be classified in heading 73.20 (as springs) and not in heading 87.08 (as parts of motor vehicles).
The ENs to Section XV, which includes Chapter 83, provide, in pertinent part, that:
1. This section does not cover:
* * *
(g) Assembled railway or tramway track (heading 8608) or other articles of section XVII (vehicles, ships and boats, aircraft)[emphasis added].
* * *
2. Throughout the tariff schedule, the expression "parts of general use" means:
* * *
(c) Articles of heading 8301, 8302, 8308 or 8310 and frames and mirrors, of base metal, of heading 8306.
The ENs to heading 8302, HTSUS, provide, in pertinent part, that:
This heading covers general-purpose classes of base metal accessory fittings and mountings, such as are used largely on . . . coachwork, etc. Goods within such general classes remain in this heading even if they are designed for particular uses (e.g., door handles or hinges for automobiles). The heading does not, however, extend to goods forming an essential part of the structure of the article, such as window frames or swivel devices for revolving chairs.
The heading covers:
* * *
(C) Mountings, fittings and similar articles suitable for motor vehicles (e.g., motor cars, lorries or motor coaches), not being parts or accessories of Section XVII [bold emphasis in original]. For example: made up ornamental beading strips; foot rests; grip bars, rails and handles; fittings for blinds (rods, brackets, fastening fittings, spring mechanisms, etc.); interior luggage racks; window opening mechanisms; specialised ash trays; tail-board fastening fittings.
Note 87.08, Chapter 87, provides, in part:
This heading covers parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 87.01 to 87.05 provided the parts and
accessories fulfill both the following conditions [emphasis in original]:
(i) They must be identifiable as being suitable for use solely or principally with the above-mentioned vehicles;
and (ii) They must not be excluded by the provisions of the
Notes to Section XVII (see the corresponding General Explanatory Note).
Parts and accessories of this heading include:
* * *
(B) Parts of bodies and associated accessories, for example . . . floor boards[.]
In view of these very clear statutory provisions, if a good is a base metal mounting and fitting described by heading 8302, it must be classified in heading 8302, regardless of whether it is suitable for use with a motor vehicle.
The common characteristic of these articles (parts of general use as contemplated by Note 2 to Section XV) and those classifiable under heading 8302, HTSUS, is that they are articles of base metal (or plastic) which provide the function of attaching, fixing (in place), fitting, connecting, protecting, separating, binding, or stabilizing two separate articles together, or one to (or from) the other. We find that, because of the degree of manufacture, intended purpose, and condition as imported, that the fully assembled seat adjuster under consideration is not classifiable as a part of general use under heading 8302, HTSUS.
HQ 961652 discussed the difference between a “part” and an “accessory.”
HQ 961652 defined an accessory as follows:
[A]n “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.
HQ 962046 then stated that the 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. HQ 962046 concludes that the seat adjusters are accessories for tariff purposes.
We disagree with this conclusion concerning the automobile seat adjuster. As HQ 961652 pointed out, 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 the case of the automobile seat adjuster, we find that the ability to adjust an automobile seat is a necessary component of the seat. First, we distinguish an “automobile seat” from other types of “seat.” An automobile seat has certain special requirements that other seats may not have. EN 83.02 indicates that there are different types of seats and, further, that these seats may have different essential parts. The exclusion in this EN states in pertinent part:
This heading covers general-purpose classes of base metal accessory fittings and mountings, such as are used largely on furniture, doors, windows, coachwork, etc…. This heading does not, however, extend to goods forming an essential part of the structure of an article, such as window frames or swivel devices for revolving chairs.
The EN indicates that there is a specific article, a “revolving chair.” Further, the “swivel” is an essential part to this specific type of seat. See also 9401.30, HTSUS, classifying “swivel seats” as a distinct type of seat.
In a similar way, the automobile seat is another specific type of seat. Further, the seat adjuster for an automobile seat is an essential part of the seat in the same way that the swivel is an essential part of a revolving chair. The ability to adjust the automobile seat in and out and/or up and down is an essential requirement. Without the adjustability of the automobile seat, drivers of different sizes can not safely operate the vehicle. A shorter person could not reach the gas or brake pedals or the steering wheel, while a taller person could not release pressure or transfer their foot from one pedal to the other pedal. A larger person might be pressed against the steering wheel and not be able to turn the steering wheel. Therefore, we find that the automobile seat adjuster is an essential “part” of an “automobile seat,” not an “accessory.” Thus, noting EN 83.02, the automobile seat adjuster is an essential part of the article and may not be classified in chapter 83.
Since we have determined that the automobile seat adjuster is a part of a specific type of seat - an automobile seat, we find that it is provided for in heading 9401, HTSUS, as seats and parts thereof. Under GRI 3(a), heading 9401 provides a more specific description for automobile seat adjusters than does heading 8708. Therefore, the fully assembled automobile seat adjusters are classifiable under subheading 9401.90.10, HTSUS, as parts of seats of a kind used for motor vehicles.
As indicated above, this ruling has no effect on the entries which were the subject of Protest 3801-97-102267, as Customs no longer has jurisdiction over those entries. See San Francisco Newspaper Printing Co. v. United States, 620 F. Supp. 738 (CIT 1985).
Fully assembled automobile seat adjusters are classified under subheading 9401.90.10, HTSUS, as parts of seats of a kind used for motor vehicles.
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
HQ 961652, dated January 11, 1999, is revoked. . In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after publication in the Customs Bulletin.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division