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HQ 085131

October 26, 1989

CLA-2:CO:R:C:G 085131 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8536.50.0010

David J. Levine, Esq.
McDermott, Will & Emory
1850 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-2296

RE: Trigger Switches for Hand-Operated Power Tools

Dear Mr. Levine:

In your letter of June 27, 1989, on behalf of the SKIL Corporation, you inquire as to the tariff classification of certain trigger switch motor controlling devices from the Netherlands, used with SKIL's line of hand-held power tools. Ten (10) samples, each designated by part number, were submitted.


Submitted pages of a SKIL brochure describe these parts as variable speed trigger switches. Parts 351020 and 352588 are variable speed on/off trigger devices designed for use with the SKIL battery powered drill/screwdriver. They activate the drill motor and regulate the two mechanical speeds (high rpm for drilling, low rpm-high torque for screwdriving). Both devices also incorporate a finger operated forward/reverse lever. Part 346618 is a variable speed on/off trigger device with recessed lock-on button, for use with several models of SKIL's variable speed drill and hammer drill. Part 316707 is an identical part for use with SKIL's combination drill/screwdriver, hammer drill, power chisel.

Parts 348551 and 348553 are variable speed on/off trigger devices with recessed lock-on button, used with various models of the SKIL high torque variable speed drill and drywall screwdriver. The tools themselves feature a separate reverse switch mounted on the handle. Parts 304120 and 346612 are variable speed, on/off trigger devices with trigger lock-on,
for use with Skil's jigsaw line. Part 315125 is identical to parts 304120 and 346612 and is used with the SKIL reciprocating saw. Part 354415 is a variable speed, on/off trigger control (thumb operated) with trigger lock-on, for use with the SKIL belt sander.

You maintain that the articles in question are not merely electrical switches of the type previously classified under item 685.90, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the predecessor tariff code to the present Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Their adjustable trigger speed control and reverse function give them additional, nonsubordinate features not ordinarily associated with switches. For these reasons you conclude that merchandise represented by the ten samples must be classifiable under the provision for parts of electromechanical domestic appliances, with self-contained electric motors, in subheading 8509.90.4000, HTSUSA.


Do the trigger control devices incorporate features which would preclude their classification as electrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits, for example switches, for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V, in heading 8536, HTSUS?


General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, HTSUS, states in part that for legal purposes classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Section XVI, Legal Note 2(a), HTSUS, states that 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. Whether or not the trigger switches may be parts of electromechanical hand tools, Legal Note 2(a) requires that they be classified in heading 3536 if that heading covers the merchandise.

Merchandise is normally classified according to its primary design, construction and function. In its simplest terms, a switch is a device for making, breaking or changing the connections in an electrical circuit. This is the primary function performed by the trigger control devices in issue. However, each of the parts also incorporates a resistor or rheostat that permits the operator of the hand tool to vary the resistance in the circuit, thereby varying the strength of the current which proportionately increases or decreases the speed of the tool's motor.

As to what effect, if any, the presence of a resistor might have on classification of these parts, relevant Explanatory Notes, which provide guidance in the interpretation of the headings in the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, indicate that change-over switches, including starting switches for electric motors, of the type classifiable in heading 85.36, often include not only the switching gear, but also a number of resistors of the type covered by heading 85.33 (electrical resistors including rheostats) to be switched in or out of the circuit as required. Therefore, the presence of a resistor or rheostat will not remove the trigger control devices from classification in heading 8533, HTSUS.

Because it has been established that the primary function of the trigger control devices is to make/break the electrical circuit which starts and stops the tool's electric motor, and because no argument has been made that the forward/reverse feature most of the parts in issue possess is of coordinate or equal status, there is no compelling reason to remove the parts from classification in heading 8535.


Merchandise represented by the ten (10) submitted samples, is provided for as electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits, in heading 8536. Classification is under the provision for other switches, motor starters, in subheading 8536.50.0010, HTSUSA, dutiable at the rate of 5.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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