CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966963 RSD
TARIFF NO. 3923.50.0000
Ms. Carol Ann Mosoco
Manager, Trade Services
Menlo Worldwide Trade Services
302 Parker Drive
Beufort, South Carolina 29906
RE: Plastic screw caps that are used as a cover for oil filter units of diesel engine vehicles and tractors
Dear Ms. Mosoco:
This is in response to your electronic request for a binding ruling on behalf of Parker Hannifin Racor Division that was submitted on December 19, 2003, to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in New York. Your ruling request concerns the classification of a plastic screw cap that is used in oil filter units of diesel engine vehicles and tractors under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Accompanying your submission were photographs, which displayed the article. On April 1, 2004, you submitted a sample of the article to our office.
Parker Hannifin Racor Division imports oil filter elements specifically geared for oil filtering units that are used in vehicles, tractors, etc. The subject article is a plastic screw cap that is used as a cover for the oil filter unit in a diesel engine of a truck. The screw cap is a round, black plastic cap that fits over the oil filter unit to prevent leakage of oil out of the unit. The submitted photographs indicate that the cap screws into the top of a cylinder shaped metal housing that contains the oil filter cartridge. The screw cap is designed for usage only with the oil-filtering unit. To facilitate the tightening and the loosening of the screw cap, a hexagonal shaped nut-like knob is located on the top of the cap. The bottom outside portion of the cap is threaded to allow the screw cap to be screwed into the metal cylinder shaped housing. When the oil filter cartridge needs to be replaced, the cap is loosened with a hexagonal wrench. The filter cartridge then can be removed and replaced from the cylinder shaped housing. After replacing the oil filter cartridge, the screw cap is then put back into place and tightened with a hexagonal shaped wrench.
The plastic screw caps are presently being classified in subheading 3923.50.00, HTSUS, which provides for stoppers, lids and other closures, of plastics. In your submission, you asked whether the screw caps are more appropriately classified under heading 8421, HTSUS, as parts of filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus.
Whether the plastic screw caps are classified in subheading 3923.50.00, HTSUS, as stoppers, lids, caps and other closures of plastic or in subheading 8421.99.00, HTSUS as parts of filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus?
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 GRIs may then be applied.
The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN’s) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the EN’s provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the system. Customs believes the EN’s should always be consulted. See T.D. 8980, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).
The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
3923 Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods,
of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of
3923.50.00 Stoppers, lids, caps and other closures
* * * * * * * * * * *
8421 Centrifuges, including centrifugal dryers; filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus, for liquid or gases; parts thereof:
Filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus for liquids:
8421.23.00 Oil or fuel filters for internal combustion engines
* * * * * * * * * * *
EN 39.23 indicates that heading 3923 covers all articles of plastics commonly used for the packing or conveyance of all kinds of products. The articles covered include:
(c) Stoppers lids caps and other closures.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
EN 84.21 states, in pertinent part, that heading 8421, HTSUS, that:
Much of the filtration or purification plant of this heading is purely static equipment with no moving parts. The heading covers filters and purifiers of all types (physical or mechanical, chemical, magnetic, electro-magnetic, electrostatic, etc.) The heading covers not only large industrial plant, but also filters for internal combustion engines and small domestic appliances….
(A) Filtering and purifying machinery, etc., for liquids, including water softeners.
The liquid filter of this group separate solid, fatty, colloidal, etc., particles from a liquid for example, by passing it through a sheet, membrane or mass of porous material (e.g., cloth, felt, wire-cloth, skin, stoneware, porcelain, kieselguhr, sintered metallic powders, asbestos, paper pulp, cellulose, charcoal, animal black, sand)….
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It includes inter alia:… Oil filters for internal combustion engines, machine-tools etc. They are of two main types;
i) Those containing a filtering element, usually of superimposed layers of felt, metallic gauze, steel wool, etc.
(ii) Those containing permanent magnets or electromagnets for the extraction of ferrous particle from the oil.
In your submission, you asked whether the subject merchandise would be properly classified in heading 8421, HTSUS as parts of oil filters because the screw caps are used as covers for oil filter units of diesel engines for trucks. In determining whether articles such as the subject merchandise are considered parts, it is a well-established rule that a part of an article is something necessary to the completion of that article. It is an integral, constituent, or component part, without which the article to which it is to be joined, could not function as such article. United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc., 21 CCPA 322, 324, T.D. 46,851 (1933), cert denied, 292 U.S. 640 (1934). The rule set out in Willoughby Camera has been modified over the years so that a device may be a part of an article even though the device is not necessary to the operation of the article, provided that once the device is installed the article cannot function properly without it. To meet this test, the device must be dedicated for use upon the article. See Beacon Cycle, 81 Cust. Ct. 46, 50-51, C.D. 4764 (1978).
Because one of the competing headings, heading 8421, HTSUS, is within Section XVI, it is necessary to consider Legal Note 2 to Section XVI to see if it governs the classification of the imported screw caps. Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS, states, in the relevant part, that subject to certain exceptions that are not relevant here, parts of machines which are goods included in any of the headings of chapters 84 and 85 are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings. Note 2(b) states that other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading are to be classified with the machines of that kind. We also must consider Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c) to see if it supercedes Section XVI, Note 2.
Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c) provides:In the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires ... a provision for parts of an article covers products solely or principally used as a part of such articles but a provision for "parts" or "parts and accessories" shall not prevail over a specific provision for such part or accessory[.]
By its terms, Additional U.S. Rule 1(c), HTSUS, applies in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires. Section XVI, Note 2 is such special language or context, but only where the competing provisions at issue are both within Section XVI. See Nidec Corp. v. United States, 861 F. Supp. 136, aff’d 68 F. 3d 1333 (Fed Cir. 1995). However, in this case, because one of the competing provisions, Heading 3923, HTSUS, is outside of Section XVI, Note 2 to that section does not provide special language or context which supercedes Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c), HTSUS.
HQ 561353, dated September 19, 2002, concerned the classification of electrode wires used in Electronic Discharge Machining (“EDM”) equipment. One of the issues involved in the ruling was whether the electrode wires would be classified as wire or as parts of EDM equipment. We noted that one of the headings under consideration, heading 7408, HTSUS, was not a residual provision for articles of copper, but it is a specific provision for copper wire that is defined in Note 1(f) to Chapter 74, HTSUS. We further explained that even if we were to consider the finished electrode wire as a “part”, it is more specifically described by the definition for wire. Notwithstanding Note 2 to Section XVI, we ruled that Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c) controls and that a provision for parts of an article shall not prevail over a more specific provision for such parts. Thus, the electrode wire was classified in heading 7408, HTSUS, as copper wire.
In another case applying Additional U.S. Note 1(c) and Legal Note 2 to Section XVI, HTSUS, HQ 966854, dated January 16, 2004, we considered the classification of seats for fork-lift trucks. We explained that notwithstanding that a seat for fork-lifts trucks may otherwise qualify as parts of heading 8431, an unlimited eo nomie provision describes a good by name and ordinarily covers all forms of the named article. With the exception of seats of heading 9402, heading 9401 covers all seats, including those for vehicles provided, as stated in Chapter 94, Note 2, they are designed for placing on the floor or ground. Therefore, Customs concluded that a provision for seats (Heading 9401, HTSUS) is a more specific provision than a provision for parts of forklifts (Heading 8431, HTSUS) for purposes of Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c), HTSUS.
In the case at hand, we first note that heading 3923, HTSUS is outside of section XVI. Heading 3923. HTSUS, provides for stoppers, lids, caps, and other closures of plastic is a more specific heading than the alternative proposed heading, heading 8421, HTSUS, which is a more general basket provision that includes parts for oil filtering machines. Although it would appear that the screw cap should be classified in heading 3923, HTSUS, Legal Note 2(p) to Chapter 39 HTSUS provides an exclusion from classification in Chapter 39 for “Articles of Section XVI (machines and or mechanical or electrical appliances).” Thus, before we can classify the screw caps in heading 3923, HTSUS, we must consider the impact of Legal Note 2(p). HQ 561353, supra, addressed a similarly worded legal note in classifying the EDM copper wire. In that case, we had to consider the possible application of Note 1(f) to Section XV, HTSUS, which like Legal Note 2(p) for Chapter 39, HTSUS, precludes classification in Section XV for “Articles of Section XVI (machinery, mechanical appliance and electrical goods).” As the language of the Legal Note 2(p) for chapter 39 and the language of Note 1(f) to Section XV, HTSUS are similar, we believe the analysis used in HQ 561353 would be applicable to this case. Evaluating the application of the exclusion of Note 1(f) to Section XV, in HQ 561353 we stated:
We believe that the exclusion in Note 1(f) to Section XV does not apply because the electrode wire is not "machinery, mechanical appliances or electrical goods." Note 1(f) does not exclude goods which could be considered as "parts" of such machinery, mechanical appliances or electrical goods. In this respect, we point out that the HTSUS has been clear as to the exclusion of "parts" elsewhere in the HTSUS. For example, in the exclusionary Note 3(k) to Chapter 71, the exclusion specifically identifies "machinery, mechanical appliances or electrical goods, or parts thereof, of Section XVI." (Emphasis added.) Therefore, the legal text of Note 1(f) to Section XV, which is narrower in scope, was not intended to exclude certain products which, although they could be considered as "parts" by virtue of their use, are clearly defined in the provisions of Section XV.
The parenthetical language of Legal Note 2(p) specifically mentions only certain articles of Section XVI, HTSUS “machines, and mechanical or electrical appliances”, that are excluded from being classified in Chapter 39, HTSUS. In applying the Legal Note 2(p) exclusion, we believe that it excludes only the items of Section XVI, HTSUS that are specifically mentioned in the Legal Note. There is no reference to parts or parts thereof in Legal Note 2(p). Therefore, consistent with the analysis of HQ 561353, we conclude that the exclusion of Legal Note 2(p) does not cover parts of machines, and mechanical or electrical appliances of Section XVI, HTSUS. While the screw caps could be considered as parts of an oil-filtering machine subject to Note 2 to Section XVI, HTSUS, we find that heading 3923, HTSUS is a more specific provision based on the application of U.S. Additional Note 1(c) HTSUS. See HQ 561353 and HQ 966854. Consequently, we find that the screw caps are classified in subheading 3923.50.00 HTSUS, as stoppers, lids, caps and other closures of plastic.
HOLDING: In accordance with U.S. Additional Note 1(c), the screw caps used to cover the housings of oil filters of diesel engine trucks are classified in subheading 3923.50.0000, HTSUS as: “Articles for the conveyance or packing
of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics: Stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, at a general,” column one rate of duty
of 5.3% ad valorem. Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division