Ms. Jennifer Hughey
Vice President Supply Chain
Electrolux Home Care Products, NA
807 N. Main Street
Bloomington, IL 61701

Re: Spin Duster; Proposed Revocation of NY I85325

Dear Ms. Hughey:

This letter concerns New York Ruling Letter (NY) I85325, dated August 16, 2002, issued to your company, the “Eureka Company” (now doing business as “Electrolux Home Care Products, Ltd.” (“Electrolux”)), by the U.S. Customs Service (now U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)). At issue in NY I85325 was the classification of “The Spin Duster by Eureka” (“Spin Duster”) vacuum cleaner accessory under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). We have reviewed your request for reconsideration of NY I85325 as well as other information you provided to us. Our staff also held a teleconference with your office on February 22, 2010.


In NY I85325, the Spin Duster was described as follows:

…“The Spin Duster by Eureka[]”… is an auxiliary device for a vacuum cleaner that is secured to the LiteSpeed upright vacuum cleaner. The duster is in a cartridge with a valve that can be turned to divert the air suction through it, spinning and sucking the dust and debris off the duster after dusting. The duster is static-charged by the spinning motion to attract dust particles at the next use. It is made mainly of plastic.

In its request for a ruling, the Eureka Company provided a schematic drawing and a picture of the Spin Duster, as well as a specification sheet. However, an actual sample was not provided. CBP classified the subject merchandise as a vacuum cleaner part under subheading 8509.90.15,HTSUS.

In your request for reconsideration, you further describe that the Spin Duster is a plastic assembly that attaches to, but is imported separately from, certain Electrolux vacuum cleaners. You state that the primary purpose of the Spin Duster is to dust. The Spin Duster is comprised of a feather-like duster, and a plastic container that houses the duster and attaches to the side of the vacuum. The plastic container weighs .3566 kg (including the weight of the lever, screws, air inlets, etc.) and the feather duster weighs .1802 kg. Based on the standard cost provided by Electrolux, the plastic container (including the lever, screws, air inlets, etc.) accounts for approximately thirty-nine percent of the total value of the composite good, and the duster accounts for approximately sixty-one percent of the total value of the composite good. The vacuum cleaner hose connects to the plastic container by means of an opening on the container. The duster has a telescoping plastic handle and a dusting head made of man-made fiber filaments, each measuring approximately .5 inches to approximately 2.5 inches long.

The duster may be removed from the plastic container for use while the vacuum is wheeled around, but the plastic container is not designed to be taken on and off of the vacuum cleaner. The duster may be cleaned by placing it into the plastic container and, while the vacuum cleaner is on, turning the switch that opens an internal valve, which permits air from the vacuum cleaner hose to circulate into the plastic container, thereby spinning the duster clean of its particles. The Spin Duster itself has no motor and does not contribute to the operation of the vacuum cleaner. In January 2010, you notified CBP that the Spin Duster no longer creates a static charge on the duster.

In your request for reconsideration, you assert that the Spin Duster should be classified under heading 9603, HTSUS, as a “…feather duster[]….”


Is the Spin Duster properly classified as a “[v]acuum cleaner; part[] thereof” under heading 8508, HTSUS?


Merchandise is classifiable under the HTSUS in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the HTSUS is such that most goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, 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 2 through 6 may then be applied in order. In addition, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs), while not binding law, are the “official interpretation” of the Harmonized System at the international level and “provide a commentary on the scope of each heading” of the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (Aug. 23, 1989); see also, Len-Ron Mfg. Co. v. United States, 334 F.3d 1304, 1309 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (noting that Explanatory Notes are “intended to clarify the scope of HTSUS subheadings and to offer guidance in their interpretation”).

At the time NY I85325 was issued, vacuum cleaners and their parts were classified under heading 8509, HTSUS. When HTSUS was amended, effective February 3, 2007, one of the amendments included a new provision for “[v]acuum cleaners; parts thereof” under heading 8508, HTSUS. Vacuum cleaners and their parts are no longer classified under heading 8509, HTSUS. Consequently, NY I85325 was amended by operation of law on the date the HTSUS was amended to reflect vacuum cleaners and their parts in heading 8508, HTSUS.

The 2010 HTSUS provision under consideration is as follows:

8508 Vacuum cleaners; parts thereof:

* * *

8508.70.00 Parts. . . .

* * *

To determine whether an article is a “part”, the U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) issued two rules: the Willoughby rule and the Pompeo rule. See Bauerhin Technologies Limited Partnership v. United States, 110 F.3d 774, 779 (Fed. Cir. 1997). The Willoughby rule states that an item is a “part” of an article when 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.’” Id. (quoting United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc., 21 C.C.P.A. 322, 324 (1933)). The Pompeo rule states that an item is a “part” when it is “dedicated solely for use with another article” rather than being “a separate and distinct commercial entity.” See id.; see also ABB, Inc. v. United States, 421 F.3d 1274, 1277 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (defining a “‘distinct and separate commercial entity’” as an article, even when with a “plurality of articles,” wherein the article is “‘complete in itself’” and “‘performs its separate function without loss of any of its essential characteristics’”) (quoting Willoughby Camera Stores Inc., 21 C.C.P.A. at 325). The court in Bauerhin held that when “an imported item is dedicated solely for use with another article and is not a separate and distinct commercial entity,” the Willoughby rule does not apply. Bauerhin Technologies Limited Partnership, 110 F.3d at 779. Here, the Spin Duster is designed to be connected to a vacuum cleaner, which will circulate air through the plastic container in order to clean the duster. The Spin Duster is not a “separate and distinct commercial entity” and is incomplete on its own because it is unable to perform the cleaning function without the help of the vacuum cleaner. As such, the Spin Duster is a “part” of the vacuum cleaner, and is classifiable under heading 8508, HTSUS, specifically, subheading 8508.70.00, HTSUS.

However, Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation (AUSRI) 1 (c) states that “[i]n the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires . . . a provision for ‘parts’ . . . shall not prevail over a specific provision for such part.” Thus, given the subject merchandise’s composite nature, which consists of the duster and its plastic container, we must determine whether the tariff classification that describes the goods’ essential character, pursuant to GRI 3, is more specific than classification under the relevant “parts” provision (8508.70.00, HTSUS). As such, we must determine whether the subject merchandise’s essential character requires classification in a more specific heading.  

AUSRI 1(c) is not applicable to issues governed by Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS. See HQ 966041, dated April 29, 2003 (citing Mitsubishi International Corporation v. United States, 182 F.3d 884, 886 (Fed. Cir. 1999), and Nidec Corporation v. United States, 18 Ct. Intl’l Trade 821 (1994)). In this case however, although vacuum parts classified in heading 8508, HTSUS, are governed by Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS, as the components of the composite good are classified outside of Section XVI, HTSUS the matter is not resolved by Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS.

According to EN IX for GRI 3(b), a “composite good” is a good that is “made up of different components,” which may be “adapted one to the other and [be] mutually complementary and . . . together . . . form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.” Since the subject merchandise is considered a composite good, GRI 3(b) requires that classification be based on the product that provides the composite good with its essential character. In accordance with EN VIII to GRI 3(b), an item’s essential character may be determined by factors such as the “bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.” There have been several court decisions on “essential character” for purposes of classification under GRI 3(b). See Home Depot USA, Inc. v. United States, 30 Ct. Int’l Trade 445, 462-538 (2006), aff’d 491 F.3d 1334 (Fed. Cir. 2007); Conair Corp. v. United States, 29 Ct. Int’l Trade 888 (2005); Structural Industries v. United States, 29 Ct. Int’l Trade 180, 183-89 (2005). “[E]ssential character is that which is indispensable to the structure, core or condition of the article, i.e., what it is.” Home Depot USA, Inc., 30 Ct. Int’l Trade at 460 (quoting A.N. Deringer, Inc. v. United States, 66 Cust. Ct. 378, 383 (1971)). In particular, in Home Depot USA, Inc. v. United States, the court stated “[a]n essential character inquiry requires a fact intensive analysis.” Id. at 448.

In this case, while the value of the duster exceeds that of the plastic container (references to which, for the purposes of this essential character evaluation, hereinafter, include the lever, screws, air inlets, etc.) (approximately sixty-one percent compared to approximately thirty-nine percent), the plastic container weighs more than the feather duster (.3566 kg as compared to .1802 kg) and the plastic container is bulkier in appearance. Moreover, the plastic container’s role “in relation to the use of the goods,” see GRI 3(b), is more important than the duster.

Although you indicated in your Request for Reconsideration that the “primary purpose of the Spin Duster is for use in dusting”, the plastic container is the item in which the duster is housed and the reason why the duster is able to be spun clean. In effect, the value of the composite good is derived from the plastic container because it holds the duster and provides the space in which the duster is spun clean. These features comprise the utility of the Spin Duster. Without the plastic container, the subject merchandise would simply be a duster. Therefore, we find that the plastic container is the component that provides the essential character of the Spin Duster. The plastic container is classifiable under heading 3926, specifically, subheading 3926.90.99, HTSUS as an “[o]ther article[] of plastic … Other … Other.” According to EN 39.26, heading 3926 “covers articles, not elsewhere specified or included, of plastics.” Therefore, as this plastic container is not covered specifically by another plastic provision, the plastic container is classifiable under subheading 3926.90.99, HTSUS.

According to GRI 3(a), when goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, “[t]he heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description.” See also Better Home Plastics Corp. v. United States, 20 Ct. Int’l Trade 221, 222 (1996), aff’d 119 F.3d 969 (Fed. Cir. 1997). Moreover, heading 3926, HTSUS, is a general heading or basket provision, as evidenced by the word “[o]ther.” See The Item Company v United States, 98 F.3d 1294, 1296 (Fed. Cir. 1996). Classification of imported merchandise in a basket provision is only appropriate if there is no tariff provision that covers the merchandise more specifically. See EM Industries, Inc. v. United States, 22 Ct. Int’l Trade 156, 165,(1998) (“‘Basket’ or residual provisions of HTSUS Headings . . . are intended as a broad catch-all to encompass the classification of articles for which there is no more specifically applicable subheading”). Since the tariff classification for the plastic container is a general provision, we find that the Spin Duster is more appropriately classified as a vacuum cleaner part, under subheading 8508.70.00, HTSUS, pursuant to U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c).

Moreover, please note that the marking statute, 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 United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article.” The Spin Duster did not bear a marking for the country of origin.


By application of GRIs 1, 3(b), and AUSRI 1(c) the Spin Duster is classified under heading 8508, HTSUS, and specifically, provided for under subheading 8508.70.00, HTSUS, as: “Vacuum cleaners; parts thereof . . . Parts.” The 2010 general, column one rate of duty is free.


None, as NY 185325 was revoked by operation of law.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division