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HQ 089430

March 26, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 089430 SLR


TARIFF NO.: 3822.00.5090

Mr. Melvin S. Schwechter
Director, International Trade and Customs Practice
Coopers & Lybrand
1301 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019-6013

RE: Microcuvettes; Blood Diagnostic Cartridges; GRI 3(b); Composite Diagnostic or Laboratory Reagents of Heading 3822; NYRL 862928 of May 17, 1991.

Dear Mr. Schwechter:

This is in response to your letter of April 29, 1991, submitted on behalf of your client, HemoCue, Inc., regarding the classification of the HemoCue System under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). You have been informed by our New York office of the proper classification of the hemoglobinmeter component of the system. (See New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 862928 of May 17, 1991, wherein the hemoglobinmeter was classified as an instrument for chemical or physical analysis in subheading 9027.50.4050, HTSUSA.) The classification of the microcuvettes, however, was forwarded to this office for a determination. We have samples of the component in question.


The HemoCue System, a regime designed to measure hemoglobin, consists of a hemoglobinometer and microcuvettes. These components are imported together, yet packaged separately. Customs has learned that a typical shipment of the goods consists of 4 pallets of the hemoglobinmeters and 8 pallets of the microcuvettes, the former containing 50 boxes of the meters, 1 meter per box, the latter containing 490 packages of microcuvettes, 200 microcuvettes per package.

The component in question, the microcuvette, is small, made of plastic, and contains a dry reagent. The reagent when combined with a blood sample produces a chemical reaction. The microcuvette is inserted into the hemoglobinmeter which then measures the amount of light absorbed by the blood sample
contained on the microcuvette. The amount of absorbed light is converted into an electrical signal which varies in intensity depending on the amount of hemoglobin in the sample. The results are displayed in 45 seconds in a digital format on the meter's liquid crystal display. The microcuvette is disposed of after the measurement.


I. Whether the hemoglobinmeters and the microcuvette packages form "functional units" classifiable in heading 9027, HTSUSA.

II. Whether the microcuvette cartridge is classifiable as a "part" of the hemoglobinmeter in heading 9027, HTSUSA, and if not, how is it appropriately classified.


ISSUE I: Whether the hemoglobinmeters and the microcuvette packages form "functional units."

Heading 9027, HTSUSA, provides for, among other things, instruments for chemical or physical analysis; parts and accessories thereof. The General Explanatory Note to Chapter 90 indicates that the Chapter covers "functional units." (See Chapter 90, Legal Note 3, which indicates that the provisions of Note 4 to Section XVI also apply to this Chapter.) Accordingly, where an instrument consists of individual components intended to contribute together to a clearly defined function of Chapter 90, the whole is to be classified in the heading appropriate to that function.

The hemoglobinmeters and the microcuvette packages do not form functional units. Although these components work together, as entered they are not identifiable as units. We know from information received that the hemoglobinmeters and the microcuvette packages are imported in bulk for inventory and that they are sold/distributed in numerous combinations. The hemoglobinmeters and microcuvette packages simply lack a sufficient nexus to qualify as functional units. Consequently, they cannot be classified as a whole under heading 9027.

ISSUE II: Whether the microcuvette cartridge is classifiable as a "part" of the hemoglobinmeter, and if not, how is it appropriately classified.

Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

A part is an article which is specifically designed for the parent article, is used solely or principally with the parent article, and is an integral or constituent component of the parent article without which the parent article cannot properly function.

The microcuvette cartridge is specifically designed for the hemoglobinmeter and is used solely with that meter. It is not, however, an integral component of the meter. The meter is fully operational without the cartridge. The microcuvette cartridge, therefore, is not classifiable as a "part" of the hemoglobinmeter in heading 9027, HTSUSA.

No heading within the Nomenclature provides for plastic cartridges containing chemical reagents. All in all, GRI 1 is of no assistance in classifying the product in question. The remaining GRI's, therefore, must be consulted.

The present product consists of a plastic cartridge and chemical reagents, the former classifiable in heading 3926, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of plastics; the latter classifiable in heading 3822, HTSUSA, which provides for composite diagnostic or laboratory reagents. As the product is made up of two components classifiable under different headings, GRI 3 must be consulted.

GRI 3(a) provides that articles classifiable under two or more headings are to be classified under the heading which provides the most specific description of the goods in question. All headings are regarded as equally specific, however, when each refers to part only of the goods.

Each of the headings in question -- heading 3926 and heading 3822 -- refers to part only of the merchandise in question. As the headings are regarded as equally specific, classification of the subject product cannot be determined by application of GRI 3(a). Consequently, we must turn our attention to GRI 3(b).

GRI 3(b) provides that goods made up of two or more components shall be classified as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. "Essential character" may be determined by the nature of the material, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

Here, the chemical reagent is the active principle within the cartridge; the cartridge simply acts as a carrier for the blood sample. The chemical reagent component, therefore, represents the essential character of the product in question, and the product as a whole is classifiable under heading 3822.


The microcurvette cartridge is classifiable in subheading 3822.00.5090, HTSUSA, which provides for composite diagnostic or laboratory reagents, other than those of heading 3002 or 3006: other (than containing antigens or antisera): other. The applicable rate of duty is 5 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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