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HQ 950835

APRIL 9 1992

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 950835 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8536.50.00, HTSUS

Ms. Elaine Jacoby
Miles & Joffroy
1185 Avenida Costa Este, Suite 1600
Otay Mesa, California 92073

RE: Automatic Rain Shutoff Device; Interrupter Mechanism for Sprinkler System Controller; Electric Signal Inhibiter; Automatic Controlling Apparatus; Apparatus for Electric Control; Headings 8536, 8537, 9032; Pre-entry Classification Ruling 856861 Modified

Dear Ms. Jacoby:

In a letter to the Customs office at San Ysidro, California, dated September 30, 1991, on behalf of Rain Bird (Hyson Industries), you ask for reconsideration of a pre-classification ruling on the RS-1 Automatic Rain Shutoff, a device used with automatic sprinkler systems. Descriptive literature was submitted.

In pre-entry classification ruling 856861, dated November 15, 1990, the District Director of Customs at San Diego advised Rain Bird that the automatic rain shutoff was classifiable in subheading 9107.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), a provision for time switches with clock or watch movement or with synchronous motor. You disagree with this classification and suggest that heading 9032, a provision for automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus, is more appropriate.


The RS-1 Automatic Rain Shutoff is a water conservation device that functions to interrupt the preset time instructions of a lawn sprinkler system to prevent the sprinkler from turning on when it rains. The device incorporates a rain collector pan and plastic housing for fuses, relays and wiring. The wiring is spliced to the wires running from the system's timing mechanism
to each sprinkler valve. As precipitation begins, the rain pan fills with water. When a preset water level is reached, two sensors in the housing come into contact with the water. This causes current to jump from one sensor to the other and initiates a signal that interrupts the flow of electricity from the sprinkler's timer, either turning off the sprinkler or preventing it from turning on. As the water in the pan evaporates to a point where it is no longer in contact with the sensors, the electrical interrupter signal is broken and the sprinkler is returned to automatic operation via the system's timer.


Whether the RS-1 Automatic Rain Shutoff is a time switch of heading 9107, automatic controlling apparatus of heading 9032, or apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits of heading 8536.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 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, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs 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 notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80.

Relevant ENs at p. 1547 indicate that time switches of heading 9107 are mainly designed to make or break electric circuits automatically at given times, usually at times determined according to a previously established daily or weekly program. Time switches of this heading must have a movement of the watch of clock type or a synchronous motor with or without reduction gear. The device in issue does not conform to this description.

Goods of heading 9032 include, among others, instruments and apparatus for automatically controlling the flow, level,
pressure or other variables of liquids or gases. See Chapter 90, Note 6(a), HTSUS. Relevant ENs at p. 1534 indicate that apparatus for automatically controlling liquids, gases or temperature, within the meaning of Note 6(a) to [chapter 90], consists of a device for measuring the variable to be controlled, a control device which compares the measured value with the desired value, and a starting, stopping or operating device. The merchandise in issue measures the amount of rain in the pan and compares the measured amount to a preset or desired level. However, in this case the variable to be controlled is not the amount of water in the pan but the flow of water from the sprinkler. For this reason, the RS-1 Automatic Rain Shutoff is not automatic controlling apparatus of heading 9032.

Relevant ENs at p. 1389 indicate that apparatus for switching electrical circuits of heading 8536 consists essentially of devices for making or breaking one or more circuits in which they are connected. The operation of the instant device causes electric current to open a relay which breaks the current from the system's timer to the sprinkler valves. As water in the pan evaporates the current ceases and the relay closes. This reestablishes the circuit from the timer. The instant device functions precisely in the manner of apparatus of heading 8536.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the SR-1 Rain Shutoff is provided for in heading 8536 as electrical apparatus for switching electrical circuits. Actual classification is in subheading 8536.50.00, HTSUS, a provision for other switches. The rate of duty is 5.3 percent ad valorem.

Pre-entry classification ruling 856861 is modified accordingly.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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