CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965864 HEF

Port Director of Customs
Juarez/Lincoln Bridge
Administrative Building # 2
Laredo, Texas 78040

RE: Worm Drive Screw Components of Hose Clamps

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 2304-01-100353, filed against your classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of worm drive screw components of hose clamps. The entries were liquidated on October 5, 2001, and this protest timely filed on behalf of Ideal Division, Epicor Industries, Inc. on October 15, 2001. Three samples were submitted to this office. In preparing this ruling consideration was given to supplemental submissions made by counsel on behalf of protestant on November 22, 2002, as well as arguments presented in a teleconference held on December 2, 2002, and confirmed by letter dated December 6, 2002.


Hose clamps, part numbers 56480-51 and 62020-52, are imported from Mexico and are classified within subheading 7326.90.8586. The threaded articles at issue are “worm drive” screws which are components of the hose clamps. Part 56480-51 is 1-1/4 inches long and Part 62020-52 is 5/8 inch long. They both have slotted hexagonal heads. The worm drive screws operate to allow the hose clamps to be tightened or loosened. The threads on these articles are spaced for the purpose of engaging the slots on the hose clamps to enlarge or reduce the openings. Hence, the articles are designed to transmit motion. The worm drive screws are imported into Mexico from Japan. The hose clamps of Mexican origin were entered under heading 7326, HTSUS, as other articles of iron or steel, and the worm drive screws of Japanese origin were entered under heading 7318, HTSUS, as screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles of iron or steel: threaded articles. Because the worm drive screw components were determined to transmit motion rather than fasten goods together, the entries were both liquidated under heading 7326, HTSUS. ISSUE:

What is the classification of the worm drive screw imported into Mexico from Japan and does it make the tariff shift for NAFTA purposes?



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 may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron or steel: Threaded articles:

7318.15 Other screws and bolts, whether or not with their nuts or washers:

Machine screws 9.5 mm or more in length and 3.2 mm or more in diameter (not including cap screws)

* * *

7318.19.00 Other.

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Other articles of iron or steel:



* * *

Protestant’s counsel makes the following arguments in support of the heading 7318 classification: (1) the worm drive screw component is capable of functioning as a self-tapping fastener, and (2) the worm drive screw component is a threaded article “similar” to screws.

We disagree that the article in question is capable of functioning as a self-tapping fastener. The article at issue does not fasten two goods together. Instead, the article is designed to transmit motion, which in essence, aids in fastening components of the same part together, but the article itself does not fasten these components together. We also disagree with the contention that the article in question is a threaded article “similar” to screws. EN 73.18, at page 1270, states, in pertinent part:

SCREWS, BOLTS AND NUTS Bolts and nuts (including bolt ends), screw studs and other screws for metal, whether or not threaded or tapped, screws for wood and coach-screws are threaded (in the finished state) and are used to assemble or fasten goods so that they can readily be disassembled without damage.

Again, the article at issue does not fasten goods together. Instead the worm drive screw transmits motion as it loosens or tightens the hose clamp. EN 7318 (A)(c) excludes “[t]hreaded mechanisms, sometimes called screws, used to transmit motion.” In order to be classified within heading 7318, an article must be a fastener.

Furthermore, when there is a recognized fastener standard available to cover a particular article, Customs will accept that standard as establishing the fastener’s identity. Often, however, many fasteners are found to be hybrids, that is, they have design characteristics of different fastener types for which no one fastener standard exists. Then, Customs relies on American National Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ANSI/ASME) Standard B18.2.1, which sets forth the recommended procedure for differentiating bolts from screws. This 1981 specification was updated in 1996. Recently, in Rocknel Fastener, Inc. v. United States, 267 F. 3d 1354, 1361 (Fed. Cir. 2001), the court sanctioned Customs’ use of ANSI/ASME Standard B18.2.1 and noted that Customs has been applying the ANSI Specification to distinguish between tariff terms in the fastener industry “from a time even before the enactment of the HTSUS.” Standard B18.2.1 specifies four Primary Criteria and nine Supplementary Criteria against which individual fasteners can be measured.

ANSI/ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) B 18.2.1 (1981), describes screws in pertinent part:


Screw A screw is an externally threaded fastener capable of being inserted into holes in assembled parts, of mating with a preformed internal thread or forming its own thread, and of being tightened or released by torquing the head.

Primary Criteria

An externally threaded fastener, which has a thread form which prohibits assembly with a nut having a straight thread of multiple pitch length, is a screw. (Example: wood screws, tapping screws)

An externally threaded fastener, which must be torqued by its head into a tapped or other preformed hole to perform its intended service is a screw. (Example: square head set screw) Again, the article at issue is not a fastener. The worm drive screw is not designed to assemble or fasten two or more parts together so that they can readily be disassembled without damage. It is designed to transmit motion. Hence, the article does not meet ANSI/ASME primary specification standards. Although it may meet some of the Supplementary Criteria, the Supplementary Criteria are only applied when a “fastener” does not satisfy completely any one of the Primary Criteria. Here the article is not a fastener. It does not satisfy any of the Primary Criteria, nor does it satisfy the criteria set forth by the ENs to heading 7318. The article at issue is correctly classified in subheading 7326.90.85, HTSUS, as other articles of iron or steel, other, other.

II. NAFTA Tariff Shift

To be eligible for tariff preferences under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), goods must be “originating goods” within the rules of origin in General Note 12(b), HTSUS. General Note 12(b)(ii)(A), HTSUS, states, in relevant part, that for the purposes of this note, goods imported into the customs territory of the United States are eligible for the tariff treatment and quantitative limitations set forth in the tariff schedule as “goods originating in the territory of a NAFTA party” only if “they have been transformed in the territory of Canada, Mexico and/or the United States so that-- except as provided in subdivision (f) of this note, each of the non-originating materials used in the production of such goods undergoes a change in tariff classification described in subdivisions (r), (s) and (t) of this note or the rules set forth therein.” One such authorized change is to headings 7325 through 7326 from any heading outside that group. See General Note 12(t)/73.27. As stated above, the worm drive screws of Japanese origin are classifiable upon importation into Mexico, in subheading 7326.90.85, HTSUS. They are imported into the Customs territory with hose clamps, also classifiable in subheading 7326.90.85, HTSUS. Accordingly, as the worm drive screws do not undergo the change in tariff classification authorized by General Note 12(t)/73.27, the articles are not eligible for preferential tariff treatment as originating goods under the NAFTA.


The “worm drive” screws are classifiable in subheading 7326.90.85, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of iron or steel, other, other. The “worm drive” screws, as imported, are not eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the NAFTA.

The protest should be DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 14, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision, must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decisions 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.


Myles B. Harmon, Director Commercial Rulings