CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 962622 JAS

Port Director of Customs
610 S. Canal St.
Chicago, Ill 60607-4523

RE: Vacuum Cleaners With Spray Attachments; Composite Machine, Section XVI, Note 3, Principal Function

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of three models of the Bissell vacuum cleaner. By its letter, dated February 12, 1999, counsel for Bissell informed us that there are open entries of this merchandise at Chicago for which liquidation had been suspended. This response is therefore directed to you in accordance with the Internal Advice procedure outlined in section 177.11, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.11). Our letter, dated April 19, 1999, copy enclosed, advises counsel of this, and addresses his request for confidentiality.


The merchandise is three (3) models of vacuum cleaning units, the Little Green portable deep cleaner model 1720-1, the hand-held Spot Lifter cordless deep cleaner model 1715-1, and the Powersteamer upright deep cleaner models 1690 and 1695. Each cleaner uses suction created by a vacuum to lift dirt from carpets and furniture. Each cleaner also incorporates a spray mechanism for depositing a cleaning solution which loosens embedded dirt. The vacuum then removes both surface dirt and liquid. The cleaners can suction up both wet and dry materials even when the solution applicator is not engaged. Each cleaner incorporates both vacuum and spray applicator components in the same canister, and each incorporates a self-contained electric motor and weighs less than 20 kg.

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Counsel maintains that these cleaning units are vacuum cleaners classifiable under subheading 8509.10.00, HTSUS. He claims these units are recognized by the industry as vacuum cleaners, citing Designation F 395-97 of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), “Standard Terminology Relating to Vacuum Cleaners.” This standard, according to counsel, defines “vacuum cleaner” and treats “extraction cleaners” as a special type of vacuum cleaner. The referenced ASTM standard was not a part of counsel’s submission. However, literature on carpet extractors made by another company describes apparatus that shampoos carpets then suctions up the wet residue. Counsel cites two administrative decisions in which Customs classified electromechanical devices incorporating a vacuum component together with other complementary components as vacuum cleaners, presumably because the vacuum performed the primary function.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8509 Electromechanical domestic appliances, with self-contained electric motor; parts thereof: 8509.10.00 Vacuum cleaners

8509.80.00 Other appliances


Whether the vacuum cleaning units in issue are vacuum cleaners for tariff purposes.


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. In accordance with Section XVI, Note 3, HTSUS, composite machines are to be classified as if consisting only of that component or as being that machine which performs the principal function. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the - 3 -

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).

The ENs at p. 1456 state that vacuum cleaners of subheading 8509.10.00 perform two functions, the suction of dust and the filtering of the air stream. The ENs include within this group vacuum cleaners designed for the suction of dry and wet materials. These ENs do not, however, identify spraying devices as components of vacuum cleaners. Other ENs at p. 1227 describe composite machines as those consisting of two or more machines or appliances of different kinds, fitted together to form a whole, consecutively or simultaneously performing separate functions which are generally complementary and are described in different headings of Section XVI. These are to be classified according to the principal function of the composite machine.

The vacuum cleaning units in issue are composite machines in that they consist of separate components in a common housing that consecutively perform the functions of spraying and vacuum suction, these functions being generally complementary. The spraying or dispersing component is described by heading 8424, HTSUS, as mechanical appliances for projecting, dispersing, or spraying liquids or powders, while the vacuum component is an electromechanical household appliance described by heading 8509. It is clear that the vacuum component performs the principal function of these machines. The spray component loosens the dirt but it cannot remove the dirt from carpets or furniture. The cleaning units are purchased for their capability as vacuums. They perform this function whether used independently or after activation of the spray component. We conclude that the principal function of these cleaning units is performed by the vacuum component. Accordingly, the three vacuum cleaning units are to be classified as if consisting only of the vacuum cleaner component.

In reaching this decision, we note that at its 22nd Session, the Harmonized System Committee of the World Customs Organization classified the Rainbow Cleaning System in subheading 8509.10 (Doc. 42.750, Annex K/19, HSC/22/Nov.98). The apparatus was a dry and wet vacuum cleaning machine with self-contained electric motor intended for domestic use. Though the apparatus contained no spraying device, it did contain a centrifuge in its bottom for dispersing home fragrance or air freshener. The decision noted that under Section XVI, Note 3, the principal function of the machine was that of a vacuum cleaner. - 4 -


Under the authority of GRI 1 and Section XVI, Note 3, HTSUS, the Little Green portable deep cleaner model 1720-1, the Spot Lifter cordless deep cleaner model 1715-1, and the PowerSteamer upright deep cleaner models 1690 and 1695 are provided for in heading 8509. They are classifiable in subheading 8509.10.00, HTSUS.

You are to mail this decision to the internal advice applicant, through its representative, no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division