CLA-2 OT:RR:CTF:TCM H004652 HkP
Port of Laredo
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
P.O. Box 3130Laredo, TX 78044-3130
RE: Internal Advice Request (I/A) 06-032; classification of a temperature control unit (TCU) with detachable wiring harnesses
Dear Port Director:
This is in response to Internal Advice Request (“I/A”) 06-032, initiated by Kongsberg Automotive (“Kongsberg”), concerning the proper classification of an automotive temperature control unit (“TCU”) with detachable wiring harness under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). Kongsberg first entered the TCU at issue under subheading 8544.30.0000, HTSUSA, as ignition wiring sets but requested, prior to liquidation, that the port change the classification of the merchandise to subheading 9032.89.6025, HTSUSA, as other automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus. On receiving this request, the port consulted the National Commodity Specialist Division (“NCSD”) of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), who advised that the TCU was properly classified in subheading 9032.10.0090, HTSUSA, as thermostats. The port then directed Kongsberg to seek a binding ruling on the classification of this merchandise from CBP. That request, in the form of a request for Internal Advice, was forwarded to this office for a response.
In reaching our decision we have also taken into consideration additional information submitted by the importer to this office in February 2007, as well as the sample TCU provided by Kongsberg.
The TCU at issue is a 12V black box connector containing a printed circuit board with a detachable wiring harness. Requestant has informed CBP that the TCU is used to control the temperature of car seat heaters by continuously transferring data about the desired heat of the car seat to the heater after such information is conveyed by a switch or other mechanism. The TCU also sends serial data about functional status and failure diagnostics back to the central computer in the car. In responding to questions from the port and the NCSD during July and August, 2006, Kongsberg informed CBP that a transistor on the circuit board inside the TCU sends out a signal in the form of a current which produces heat. Kongsberg noted, however, that the device is not a thermostat because it does not contain a sensitive element that changes its action according to variations in temperature. The temperature sensitive element (the thermistor) is integrated into the heater pad, which is not a part of this device. The heater pad is imported separately.
During a teleconference with CBP on February 28, 2007, the importer further explained that the TCU is a “voltage comparator,” that is, it checks the resistance levels of the current that is used to heat a car seat but does not actually measure temperature. When the “on” switch is activated in the passenger compartment of the car, voltage corresponding to the on position (e.g., low, medium, high) is sent to the TCU. At the same time, the TCU receives voltage from the heater and compares it to the voltage sent by the switch. The TCU raises the temperature in the seat by raising the voltage it sends to the heater until it is equal to the voltage sent by the switch. However, the TCU does not measure the temperature of the seat, only its voltage. Once balance between the switch and heater is achieved, the TCU cycles “off”, that is, it stops sending current to the heater. The TCU will cycle back “on” when the voltage from the seat falls below the voltage set by the switch.
According to the NCSD, the correct classification of a TCU is in subheading 9032.10.00, HTSUSA, as a thermostat, because the TCU automatically controls temperature by instructing the heating appliance to turn on and off when necessary to maintain the seat’s temperature at the chosen level.
Requestant believes that the correct classification is in subheading 9032.89.6025, HTSUSA, as other instruments and apparatus.
What is the correct classification of the temperature control unit under the HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined 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 solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs 2 through 6 may then be applied in order.
The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
9032 Automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus; parts and accessories thereof:
* * *
Other instruments and apparatus:
* * *
* * *
9032.89.60 Other …..
Control instruments for air conditioning, refrigeration or heating systems:
* * *
9032.89.6025 Other …..
Note 7 to Chapter 90, HTSUS, provides:
Heading 9032 applies only to:
Instruments and apparatus for automatically controlling the flow, level, pressure or other variables of liquids or gases, or for automatically controlling temperature, whether or not their operation depends on an electrical phenomenon which varies according to the factor to be automatically controlled, which are designed to bring this factor to, and maintain it at, a desired value, stabilized against disturbances, by constantly or periodically measuring its actual value; and
Automatic regulators of electrical quantities, and instruments or apparatus for automatically controlling non-electrical quantities the operation of which depends on an electrical phenomenon varying according to the factor to be controlled, which are designed to bring this factor to, and maintain it at, a desired value, stabilized against disturbances, by constantly or periodically measuring its actual value.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80.
Note 7(a) provides for, among other things, instruments and apparatus for automatically controlling temperature. EN 90.32(I) provides, in relevant part:
Automatic control apparatus … for automatically controlling temperature form part of complete automatic control systems and consist essentially of the following devices:
A device for measuring the variable to be controlled (pressure or level in a tank, temperature in a room, etc.); in some cases, a simple device which is sensitive to changes in the variable … may be used instead of a measuring device.
A control device which compares the measured value with the desired value and actuates the device described in (C) below accordingly.
A starting, stopping or operating device.
Apparatus for automatically controlling … temperature, within the meaning of Note 7(a) to the Chapter, consists of these three devices forming a single entity or in accordance with Note 3 to this Chapter, a functional unit.
Some instruments and apparatus do not incorporate devices which compare the measured value with the desired value. They are directly activated by means of a switch, e.g., when the predetermined value is reached.
* * *
This group includes:
* * *
(D) Thermostats are used for automatically controlling temperature. The main components of a thermostat are:
An element sensitive to changes in temperature …
A drum, disc or other device for pre-setting the desired temperature.
A triggering or operating device which consists mainly, depending on the type of transmission used (mechanical, servo-fluid, electrical), of … an electrical switch. This device operates a signal or an appliance (generally remote) … which regulates the temperature.
Note 7(b) pertains, in relevant part, to instruments or apparatus for automatically controlling non-electrical quantities the operation of which depends on an electrical phenomenon varying according to the factor to be controlled (automatic regulators). EN 90.32(II) explains, in relevant part:
The automatic regulators of this heading are intended for use in complete automatic control systems which are designed to bring a quantity, electrical or non-electrical, to, and maintain it at, a desired value, stabilised against any disturbances, by constantly or periodically measuring its actual value. They consist essentially of the following devices:
A measuring device … which determines the actual value of the variable to be controlled and converts it into a proportional electrical signal.
An electrical control device which compares the measured value with the desired value and gives a signal (generally in the form of a modulated current).
A starting, stopping or operating device (generally contacts, switches or circuit breakers, reversing switches or, sometimes, relay switches) which supplies current to an actuator in accordance with the signal received from the control device.
An automatic regulator within the meaning of Note 7(b) to this Chapter consists of the devices described in (A), (B) and (C) above, whether assembled together as a single entity or in accordance with Note 3 to this Chapter, a functional unit.
* * *
Electronic regulators function on a strictly electrical principle, and not electro-magnetically. Their characteristic features are semiconductors (transistors) or integrated circuits.
These regulators are used not only for electrical quantities, such as voltage, amperage, frequency and power, but also for other quantities such as … temperature.
It is not in dispute that a TCU is provided for in heading 9032, HTSUS. What is at issue is whether the TCU automatically controls temperature or whether it automatically controls non-electrical quantities and operates based on an electrical phenomenon that varies according to the factor to be controlled.
As an initial matter, we note that both Note 7(a) and Note 7(b) to Chapter 90 can be said to describe the general purpose of the TCU, that is, to automatically control temperature/a non-electrical quantity. However, when we consider the description of the workings of the TCU in the context of the explanations provided by EN 90.32, we conclude that Note 7(b) to Chapter 90 more accurately describes the merchandise at issue than Note 7(a). Significantly, we find it persuasive that Note 7(b) describes the electrical workings of the TCU while Note 7(a) does not. The operation of the TCU depends on an electrical phenomenon (current) that varies according to the factor to be controlled (the temperature of the seat). Specifically, the TCU: (1) determines the amount of the heat desired by a passenger and converts that value into an electrical signal, (2) compares the actual heat value of the seat with the desired value and generates a modulated current, and (3) supplies that modulated current to the thermistor inside the car seat heater pad, cycling “on” and “off” as needed.
Based on all of the foregoing, we find that the TCU at issue is provided for as “other instruments and apparatus” of heading 9032, HTSUS.
By application of GRI 1 and Legal Note 7(b) to Chapter 90, we find that TCUs are correctly classified under heading 9032, HTSUS. They are specifically provided for in subheading 9032.89.6025, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus; parts and accessories thereof: Other instruments and apparatus: Other: Other: Control instruments for air conditioning, refrigeration or heating systems: Other.” The 2006 column one, general rate of duty is 1.7% ad valorem.
You are to mail this decision to the internal advice requester no later than 60 days from the date of the decision. At that time, the Office of International Trade, Regulations and Rulings, will make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the CBP Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.cbp.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division