United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1993 HQ Rulings > HQ 0089453 - HQ 0089872 > HQ 0089453

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 089453

July 25, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 089453 KWM


TARIFF No.: 4421.90.9040

Mr. Marty R. Wilson
Americana Brokers
Sweetgrass, Montana 59484

RE: Observation and restraint device; B.O.A.R.D.; Essential character; GRI 3(c).

Dear Mr. Wilson:

This is in response to your correspondence dated January 3rd, January 31st and March 20th, 1991, regarding a binding classification ruling request for merchandise referred to as an "observation and restraint device." Your request and the supplemental information you provided have been forwarded to this office for a response.


Your letter refers to the merchandise as an "observation and restraint device." It is composed of a plywood board covered first with a layer of foam plastic padding, and then with textile backed vinyl. Attached to the board are straps of either leather or nylon belting. The device is used to secure emotionally unstable persons for observation, as described by your brochure:

An individual is placed on a fully padded 6'x2' surface, preventing injury to the head or any other area of the body. Wrist and ankles are secured by leather straps to reduce friction burns. Legs, pelvis and upper body are secured by quick-release nylon straps (fully adjustable).

In letters dated January 31st and March 20th, 1991, you provided additional information regarding the material components used in the manufacture of the device. The breakdown, by weight and value is as follows:

Plywood $17.50 / unit 29 lbs.
Vinyl 62.62 / unit 3 lbs.
Seat belting 10.01 / unit 4 lbs.
Leather straps & buckles 60.01 / unit 2 lbs.

Foam 39.59 / unit 3 lbs.
Misc. screws, bolts, etc. 11.01 / unit 2 lbs.

TOTAL $200.74 43 lbs.


How is the restraining device classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant 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 GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

We find no heading in the nomenclature which provides for this product. Therefore, GRI 1 is inconclusive. These items must be classified by determining essential character on the basis of component materials, according to GRI's 2 and 3. Under GRI 2, any reference to a material or an article made of a material includes goods made wholly or in part of that material. GRI's 3(a) & (b) hold that goods such as these which are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings are classified by determining which of the component materials provides the goods with its essential character. The Explanatory Notes to GRI 3(b) indicate that there are no hard and fast rules for determining essential character. Each case involves an individual evaluation of such factors as weight, value, bulk, marketability, etc.

In this case, we consider three of the component materials to be essential to the character of the device. First, the textile backed vinyl is classifiable in chapter 39, HTSUSA, based on the notes to that chapter. The plastic foam would also be classified in that chapter. For the purposes of determining essential character, we have combined the foam and vinyl components. The seat belting material might also be included in this group if it is made from a nylon material; however, we are unsure of its' composition and we find that its' functional role differs from that of the vinyl and foam.

Second, the leather straps are classifiable in chapter 42, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of leather. Third, the plywood board is classifiable in chapter 44, HTSUSA, as an article of wood.

We find in this case that none of the predominant component materials establishes the essential character of the article. The plywood clearly dominates in terms of weight, but is one of the least costly materials. The vinyl and foam component is just the opposite: very light in weight but high in value. The leather is also high in value. Each plays an important, if not vital role in the use of the device. The wood provides a sound foundation for restraint of patients, the leather and belting straps secure the body, and the vinyl and foam provide a comfortable, washable surface. They also impart the visual appearance of the product.

Since no component material establishes essential character, GRI 3(c) states that classification shall be in that provision which occurs last in numerical order in the nomenclature. For the instant merchandise that will be subheading 4421.90.9040, HTSUSA.


The merchandise at issue, an observation and restraint device made of plywood covered with foam and vinyl, and having leather and belting straps for restraint, is classified in subheading 4421.90.9040, HTSUSA, as an other article of wood.


John A. Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling