Mr. Jonathan Lieberman
New York Customs Brokers Inc.
148-02 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11434

RE: The tariff classification, country of origin and marking of wooden smoke pins

Dear Mr. Lieberman:

In your letter, dated July 20, 2021, you requested a binding ruling for tariff classification and country of origin. The request was returned to you for additional information, which was received by this office on September 7, 2021. The ruling was requested on "wooden smoke pins". Product information and photos were provided for our review.

The products under consideration are identified as "wooden smoke pins". In your letter, you state that the wooden smoke pins are made of sawdust from different woods, such as oak, beech and hickory. The sawdust is mixed with water and a food grade stabilizer - hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (E464) - and is then molded into a cylindrical shaped pin. Subsequently, a hole is formed through the center of the pin. The pins measure approximately 12 centimeters in length and 2 centimeters in diameter. You indicate the smoke pins are meant to be burned to slowly release scented aromas to enhance the smoking and curing of food products.

The classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation ("GRIs"), taken in order. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1 and if the heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs will be applied in the order of their appearance. Sawdust and wood waste and scrap, whether or not agglomerated in logs, briquettes, pellets or similar forms are specifically provided for in heading 4401, HTSUS. The smoke pins are therefore classified in heading 4401 in accordance with GRI 1.

The applicable subheading for the agglomerated sawdust smoke pins will be 4401.39.4110, HTSUS, which provides for Fuel wood, in logs, in billets, in twigs, in faggots or in similar forms; wood in chips or particles; sawdust and wood waste and scrap, whether or not agglomerated in logs, briquettes, pellets or similar forms: Sawdust and wood waste and scrap, agglomerated in logs, briquettes, pellets or similar forms: Other: Other: Sawdust. The rate of duty will be free.

Your request also concerns the marking and country of origin for the final product shipped from Denmark to the U.S. Section 134.1(b) of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(b)) provides that the "[c]ountry of origin" means the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the United States. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the "country of origin" within the meaning of Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134). Substantial transformation requires that "[t]here must be a transformation; a new and different article must emerge, 'having distinctive name, character, or use.'" Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association v. United States, 207 U.S. 556, 28 S. Ct 204 (1908). We must therefore determine if or where a substantial transformation of materials occurs in order to determine country of origin.

In your letter, you described the manufacturing processes of the sawdust in Germany and the smoke pins in Denmark. The sawdust is made from wood logs in Germany that are chopped, dried, sieved and packaged into polyethylene bags. In Denmark, the sawdust and a food grade stabilizer are mixed with water to form a wet mass. The stabilizer - hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (E464) - is manufactured in China. The wet mass is molded into a cylindrical shape to form the wooden pin. After the wooden pin is taken out of the mold, a hole is made through the length of the pin at the center. The pins are then dried for approximately 12 hours. The finished pins are packed in a sealed bag and then packed in cardboard box.

In Germany, wood logs classifiable in heading 4403, HTSUS, are chopped, dried, and sieved to yield sawdust of heading 4401, HTSUS. This manufacturing constitutes a substantial transformation wherein a new and different article emerges. In Denmark, sawdust that has not been agglomerated is processed with a stabilizer to yield sawdust that is agglomerated, also classifiable in heading 4401, HTSUS. The processing in Denmark yields a product that is still sawdust, but which has merely been agglomerated into a defined shape. This does not constitute a substantial transformation. We therefore find the country of origin of the smoke pins to be Germany.

Section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) 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. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Pursuant to 19 CFR Section 134.1(b), the country of origin is the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S. Section 134.1(d) defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported.

In your submission, you have not identified the packaging in which the pins will be sold to the ultimate purchaser. You have also not clarified the party that will be the ultimate purchaser of the goods in the U.S. The unit that will be sold to the ultimate purchaser must be marked legibly, indelibly, and permanently with the country of origin, Germany. The unit may be marked "Product of Germany", "Made in Germany", or an equivalent.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Laurel Duvall at


Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division