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HQ 953015

Feb 24, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953015 MMC


TARIFF NUMBER: 8211.93.00

Mr. Roger Silvestri, Assistant Area Director National Import Specialist Division
Customs, New York Seaport
6 World Trade Center
New York, N. Y. 10048

RE: "Multi-Use Hand Tool"; 8203.20.60; GRI 1; Knives, other than fixed blade; Knife, retractable blade

Dear Mr. Silvestri:

This is in response to the memorandum of November 24, 1992, (CLA-2-82:S:N:NI; 119-012) from the Chief, NIS Branch 1, concerning the classification of a Multi-Use Hand Tool under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). This issue arose as a result of an inquiry from Customs in St. Louis, Missouri. A sample was submitted for our examination.


The sample is blister packed on a card which describes the article as a "Multi-Use Hand-Tool." The contents are described as "a fish scraper w/file ruler, Phillips screwdriver, large screwdriver, medium screwdriver, small screwdriver, awl/punch, razor shaped knife, pliers, and a can opener." Examination of the article reveals a plier-shaped device with hollowed out plastic and metal handles approximately 4 inches long which contain a fishscraper with ruler markings on one surface and file grooves on the other surface, a phillips head screwdriver, three flat-head blade screwdrivers, an awl/punch, a 2 1/2 inch blade knife, and a can/bottle opener. All of the instruments, except for the pliers which have been soldered in the open position, can be folded into the handles when not in use. The handles appear to have been designed so that,if not soldered, the pliers could also be folded into the handles and then the handles folded together so that the hand-tool could be easily carried.


Is this article classified under subheading 8203.20.60, HTSUS, as pliers, or under subheading 8211.93.00, HTSUS, as knives having other than a fixed blade?


Since 1904, a variety of knives having other than a fixed blade and also having other instruments, have been classifiable as knives. In A. Kastor & Bros. v. U.S., T.D. 25335, an article with a blade and a fork that folded into a handle was held to be classifiable as a pocketknife under paragraph 153 of the Tariff Act of 1897, which was a precursor to item 649.79, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS). Paragraph 153 provided in pertinent part for, penknives, or pocketknives, clasp knives, pruning knives, and budding knives of all kinds, or parts thereof, wholly or partly manufactured.

In Paul Masson Vineyards v. U.S., C.D. 4258 (1971), the Court held that an article with a folding pointed knife blade, corkscrew, and lever for removing bottle caps and corks, was classifiable under item 649.79, TSUS,(the precursor provision to Heading 8211, HTSUS) which provided for knives which have folding or other than fixed blades or attachments. The court reasoned that this provision was an eo nomine, not a use provision. Therefore, the article's predominant use as a wine bottle opener was not determinative for classification purposes. Instead, classification was determined by whether the article was described by the tariff provision. In that case, item 649.79, TSUS, described the article because it contained a knife with a blade that was other than fixed. Subsequent application of Paul Masson, in HQ 076634, 8/29/85, resulted in a knife with a folding blade, a hole puncher, phillips screwdriver, bottle opener-screw driver device, and adjustable wrench jaws to be held classifiable under item 649.79, TSUS.

Congress has indicated that earlier rulings must not be disregarded in applying the Harmonized Code. The conference report to the Omnibus Trade Bill states that on a case by case basis prior decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting the HTSUS, particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTSUS. H. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2D Sess. 548 (1988) at 550. Subheading 8211.93.00, HTSUS, provides for knives having other than fixed blades, and parts thereof. This description does not materially differ from item 649.79, TSUS, which provides for knives which have folding or other than fixed blades or attachments.

The HTSUS provides that classification of articles is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). With the implementation of the HTSUS, the possibility of another classification for this good has been raised. Under GRI 3 (b) this tool could be considered a composite good with its essential character imparted by the plier feature. If the plier feature was considered the essential character of the tool, it would be classifiable under subheading 8203.20.60, HTSUS, which provides for pliers.

However, GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. The Explanatory Notes are the official interpretation of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS). They provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to consulted when interpreting the HTSUS. (54 Fed. Reg.35127,35128 (Aug.25,1989)). EN 82.11 (3) pg. 1113, states that Heading 8211 covers "folding knives of all kinds with handles of base metal, wood, horn, plastics, etc. This group includes, inter alia: Pocket knives, pen knives, jack knives, campers' knives, and sports knives (all of these knives may have more than one blade, or be equipped with auxiliary corkscrews, spikes, screwdrivers, scissors, can openers, etc.);pocket knives for pruning, budding, grafting, etc." This EN describes the Multi-Use Hand Tool. No analysis of the tool's essential character is required because GRI 1 applies. The Multi-Use Hand Tool under consideration, which is a knife with a blade that is other than fixed, and which is equipped with other instruments, is classifiable under subheading 8211.93.00, HTSUS, because of EN 82.11 (3) and prior rulings which found the subheading to be an eo nomine provision.


The Multi-Use Hand Tool is classified as a knife with other than a fixed blade in subheading 8211.93.00, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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