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HQ 950663

January 16, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 950663 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 9608.91.00

William E. Melahn, Esq.
Doherty and Melahn
14 Essex Street
Andover, Massachusetts 01810

RE: Parts for roller ball pens; carbide ball; molded brass cone; polyester wick or feed rod; GRI 1; EN 96.08; pen nibs; 072636; 062524; The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary

Dear Mr. Melahn:

This is in response to your letter dated October 28, 1991, to Customs in Boston, Massachusetts, on behalf of Gillette Company, regarding the tariff classification of parts for roller ball pens under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter and samples were forwarded to this office for a response.


The merchandise under consideration is a part for roller ball pens. The part consists of a molded brass cone within which a carbide ball is placed and polyester wick or feed rod is attached.


What is the proper tariff classification of the part for roller ball pens under the HTSUS?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states in part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of headings and any relative section or chapter notes...."

Heading 9608, HTSUS, provides for "Ball point pens; felt tipped and other porous-tipped pens and markers; fountain pens, stylograph pens and other pens...; parts (including caps and clips) of the foregoing articles, other than those of heading 9609...." Explanatory Note (EN) 96.08 of the Harmonized Commodity and Description Coding System (HCDCS) states that this heading "also covers identifiable parts not more specifically included elsewhere in the Nomenclature. For example:

Pen nibs of any design including unfinished nibs roughly cut to shape; clips; refills for ball point pens, comprising the ball point and the ink reservoir; holders for the ball points or felts of marking stylographs; ink-flow regulators; barrels for pens or pencils of this heading; filling or propelling mechanisms; ink sacs of rubber or other materials; point protectors; interchangeable renew nib units comprising nib, feed and collar; nib points (or pen points) which are small balls made from platinum alloys or from certain tungsten alloys used for pointing the tips of pen nibs to prevent premature wear."

HCDCS, Vol. 4, p. 1607. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be looked to for proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 189).

Under item 760.32, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), which provided for "Pen points; and parts of any of the articles described in the foregoing provision of this part...Pen points...Other," Customs used the terms "nib," "tip" and "point" indiscriminately when referring to that part of the pen. See, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 072636 dated September 9, 1983. Specifically, in HRL 062524 dated June 25, 1980, Customs held that an assembly consisting of a molded plastic cone, a small metal ball and a wick was classified as a "pen point" under item 760.32, TSUS. Under the TSUS, we held that a pen point, nib or tip is that part of a pen which is most immediately capable of delivering ink to a writing surface. See, HRL 062524.

It is our position that there is no practical difference between the term "pen point" in TSUS and the term "pen nib" in HTSUS for classification purposes. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1982), defines a "nib" as

[t]he point of a pen...[a] separate pen-point, now usually made of steel, intended for fitting into a pen- holder...[t]he point of anything....

Vol. 1, p. 124. The part for the roller ball pen (carbide ball and polyester wick or feed rod attached to molded brass cone) is that part which is capable of delivering ink to the writing surface and, therefore, is considered to be the point of the pen or the "pen nib." Accordingly, the roller ball part is properly classified under subheading 9608.91.00, HTSUS, as "...Other...Pen nibs and nib points."


The part for roller ball pens is properly classified under subheading 9608.91.00, HTSUS, as "...Other...Pen nibs and nib points," which is a duty free tariff provision.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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