CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964478 GOB
W. Robb Lane
Import/Export Compliance Manager
Distribution and Trade Compliance
740 East Campbell Road
Richardson, Texas 75081
RE: Maintenance tool set
Dear Mr. Lane:
This is in reply to your letters of May 18 and July 28, 2000, in which you request a classification ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”), with respect to the Ericsson Inc. maintenance tool set (LTT 408 38).
You state that the maintenance tool set “is designed specifically for use in the installation and maintenance of telecommunication equipment, which will be installed on site, by Ericsson personnel.”
The tool set includes the following items: wera slotted screwdriver (part # ESD 1578 A); tension tool (model GS2B); knipex pliers; snipe-nose pliers; wera screwdriver bit holder with screwdriver bits; rahsol torque driver (part LSC 21001); hexagon key; DT 320 digital multitester; wrist strap; fiber optics (rubber cap with optical fiber attached); mini maglite® electric torch with nonrechargeable alkaline batteries; and a molded plastic carry case. The carry case, which has a soft foam plastic insert, is not lined or specially shaped or fitted, but does snugly contain all of the items.
What is the tariff classification of the maintenance tool set?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRI’s”). 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 GRI’s may then be applied.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“EN’s”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the EN’s 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.
Pertinent HTSUS Provisions
If imported separately, the items in the tool set would be classified in the following HTSUS provisions: wera slotted screwdriver – subheading 8205.40.00; tension tool – subheading 8205.59.55; knipex pliers – subheading 8203.20.60; snipe-nose pliers – subheading 8203.20.60; hexagon key – subheading 8204.11.00; wera screwdriver bit holder – subheading 8466.10.80; screwdriver bits – subheading 8207.90.60; rahsol torque driver – subheading 8466.10.80; DT 320 digital multitester – subheading 9030.31.00; wrist strap – subheading 8536.30.80; optic fiber flashlight extension – subheading 9013.80.90; mini maglite® electric torch with batteries – subheading 8513.10.20 for electric torch, subheading 8506.10.00 for batteries; and molded plastic carry case – subheading 4188.8.131.52.
We find that the molded plastic case which carries the tools is a part of the set for the following reasons: the carrying case is generally an appropriate size for the tools contained therein, e.g., its capacity is not larger than required to hold or carry the tools; it appears to be of durable construction; we believe the tools would typically be kept inside the carrying case when they are not in use; and we believe the carrying case would typically not be used for other purposes.
Subheading 8206.00.00, HTSUS, which is the only provision in heading 8206, HTSUS, provides for: “Tools of two or more of headings 8202 to 8205, put up in sets for retail sale.” The general rate of duty applicable to goods of heading 8206, HTSUS, is: “The rate of duty applicable to that article in the set subject to the highest rate of duty.”
EN 82.06 provides in pertinent part: “The heading covers sets of tools falling at least in two or more of the headings 82.02 to 82.05 provided they are put up in sets for retail sale (e.g., in a plastic case or in a metallic tool box) . . . Sets including tools of minor importance from other headings or Chapters of the Nomenclature remain classified in this heading, provided that such minority items do not change their essential character of sets of tools of two or more of the headings Nos. 82.02 to 82.05.” [All emphasis in original.]
Subheading 8206.00.00, HTSUS, is what is known as a GRI 1 set. The U.S. Customs Service informed compliance publication entitled “Classification of Sets under the HTSUS” provides in pertinent part as follows: “In certain areas of the HTSUS, sets are specifically mentioned by name. The only requirements which are to be followed when dealing with a GRI 1 set are those mentioned in the particular HTSUS provisions describing the set, relevant chapter and section notes, and the relevant Explanatory Notes (ENs).” [Footnote omitted.]
We find that the tool set at issue here is a good put up in a set for retail sale within the meaning of the text of heading 8206, HTSUS. We note that in HQ 083968 dated July 6, 1989, we stated in pertinent part as follows:
There is no requirement that sets actually be sold at retail. Fuel modification kits delivered without repacking to Audi dealers who, as the ultimate consumers, will install the components on recalled cars without charge to the owners, are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users.
After careful consideration, we find that the subject tool set is described in subheading 8206.00.00, HTSUS, in that it meets the terms of the subheading, as well as the EN. In this regard, we determine that the items in the tool set which are not themselves described in headings 8202 through 8205 (see above) do not change the essential character of the subject good, which is a tool set containing tools of two or more of headings 8202 through 8205. The items within the tool set which are not described in headings 8202 through 8205 serve to assist in the work performed by the tools of heading 8202 through 8205 and are auxiliary in nature to the central function of the tools of headings 8202 through 8205. The essential purpose of the tool set is to permit the user to engage in maintenance work via the use of the tools of headings 8202 through 8205.
Therefore, according to the terms of subheading 8206.00.00, HTSUS, the rate of duty for the maintenance tool set is the rate of duty applicable to that article in the set subject to the highest rate of duty. The article in the set which has the highest rate of duty is the molded plastic carry case which is classified in subheading 4184.108.40.206, HTSUS, as: “Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels and similar containers: . . . With outer surface of plastics or of textile materials: With outer surface of plastics . . . Structured, rigid on all sides: Attache cases, briefcases and similar containers.”
Please note that section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1930), provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. 1304 was “that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of marking on the imported article the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were purchased, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will.” United States v. Friedlaender & Co., Inc., 27 CCPA 297, 302 (1940). Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134) implements the requirements of section 304.
Inasmuch as some of the tools are indicated to be of U.S. origin, we refer you to Treasury Decision 91-7 (copy enclosed) with respect to the potential applicability of subheading 9801.00.10, HTSUS, to items within the set and with respect to country of origin marking issues.
If you have questions with respect to these issues, you should contact the Special Classification and Marking Branch of this office.
The maintenance tool set is classified in subheading 8206.00.00, HTSUS, as: “Tools of two or more of headings 8202 to 8205, put up in sets for retail sale.” The general rate of duty is: “The rate of duty applicable to that article in the set subject to the highest rate of duty,” i.e., the rate of duty for the molded plastic carry case which is classified in subheading 4220.127.116.11, HTSUS.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division