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HQ 952943

MARCH 17, 1993

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 952943 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 7318.12.00, HTSUS

Mr. Uli Walther
GRK Reisser Screws Canada Ltd.
RR 1-1499 Rosslyn Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7C 4T9

RE: Self-Tapping Screw, R2 and R3; 7318.14.10, HTSUS; Wood Screw; Multi-Purpose Screw Used in Metal, Wood, Drywall, Plastics; Heat Treated, Case Hardened Screw; District Ruling 877963 Reconsidered

Dear Mr. Walther:

In your letter of May 11, 1992, you ask that we reconsider a ruling issued under the District Ruling Program classifying your R2 and R3 zinc plated steel screws as wood screws. Samples and documentation are submitted.


The R2 screws are represented by thirty two (32) samples, many of which are duplicates. These fasteners range from 9/16 inch to nearly 4 inches in length. Most are of yellow, zinc plated steel while a few are either brown chromated antique or stainless steel antique. Half are fully threaded and the other half have shanks that are 2/3 threaded. Some have flat cross recess (phillips and pozidriv) heads and some square cross recess or socket heads. All have gimlet points. The R3 screws are represented by multiples of the same sample, presumably of yellow, zinc plated steel. It measures 1 9/16 inches long and is threaded along 2/3 of its shank. It has a gimlet point and a flat, recessed posidriv head.

The ruling in question (877963, dated October 5, 1992), was issued by the District Director of Customs, Ogdensburg, and addressed the tariff status of these R2 and R3 steel screws, which you described as multi-purpose threaded fasteners. The samples that accompanied your request were found to be of hardened steel with countersunk and self-countersunk heads. The concerned import specialist determined from the submitted data - 2 -
that the samples did not significantly differ from standard wood screws which they closely resemble. The R2 and R3 steel screws were held to be classifiable in subheading 7318.12.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), a provision for other wood screws.

You maintain that these fasteners are self-tapping screws having shanks or threads with a diameter of less than 6 mm, of the type provided for in subheading 7318.14.10, HTSUS. Your request for reconsideration is based primarily on the fact that the R2 and R3 screws are case hardened. Standard wood screws, you state, are unhardened. You have submitted a letter, dated November 15, 1991, directed to you by the Canadian Ministry of Industry Science and Technology. The letter states that Canadian manufacturers and installers of these fasteners regard them as self-tapping screws because the material is case hardened which they claim is a main requirement for tapping screws. Independent studies you have initiated in Canada conclude that the major difference between wood screws and self-tapping screws is that the latter are heat treated to achieve a material hardness sufficient to cut their own threads in relatively hard materials.


Whether threaded fasteners that are heat treated can be classifiable as wood screws.


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.

Under the HTSUS' predecessor tariff code, the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), screws that were not hardened by heat treating were presumed to be incapable of use in metal and, absent contrary evidence, were presumed to be used primarily in wood. This position came to be misinterpreted as - 3 -
saying that screws that were case hardened by heat treating cannot be wood screws. This is incorrect. In fact, the wood screw standard in ANSI/ASME B18.6.1 indicates that screws may be heat treated at the option of the purchaser or the manufacturer to develop adequate torsional strength for the intended application.

Under the HTSUS, relevant ENs indicate at p. 1029 that Screws for wood differ from bolts and screws for metal in that they are tapered and pointed, and they have a steeper cutting thread since they have to bite their own way into the material (Emphasis original). Further, wood screws almost always have slotted or recessed heads and they are never used with nuts. The ENs are silent on the issue of heat treating. The notes do, however, suggest that screws for wood have steeper cutting threads than screws for metal, primarily the number of threads per inch, i.e., tapping screws usually have more threads per inch. Threads per inch and other dimensions are listed in tables contained in American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designations B18.6.4 (type AB tapping screws) and B18.6.1 (wood screws). It was these dimensional standards that served as the basis for the decision in ruling 877963.


Threaded fasteners represented by samples designated R2 and R3 do not resemble any standard tapping screw. They do, however, resemble standard wood screws and are therefore classifiable in subheading 7318.12.00, HTSUS. District Ruling 877963, dated October 5, 1992, is affirmed.


John Durant, Director

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