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HQ 953559

March 31, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953559 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 8705.90.00

Mr. Bill Jerome
H.A. & J.L. Wood, Inc.
231 N. 3rd Street
Pembina, ND 58271

RE: Trail Grooming Vehicle; Special Purpose Motor Vehicle; Explanatory Note 84.29(B); 8429.59.50

Dear Mr. Jerome:

This is in response to your letter of February 4, 1993, to the Regional Commissioner of Customs, New York, on behalf of Tri-Track International, concerning the classification of trail grooming vehicles under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter has been transferred to Customs Headquarters for a reply.


The trail grooming vehicles, imported from Canada, are self propelled, diesel powered, and 3-tracked vehicles which are designed for maintaining and grooming snowmobile and cross country ski trails. The vehicle is built on a formed welded steel chassis. The vehicle has a tricycle configuration with two tracks at the rear and one track at the center front. Track width and spacing is such to ensure complete snow compaction across the full width of the vehicle, leaving no loose snow in the tracks. Features include a 155 - 190 h.p. engine (class A) or a 70 - 90 h.p. engine (class B), a triple walking beam style or rubber mounted axle type track suspension, a hydraulic steering system, a closed loop hydrostatic drive system, hydraulic foot operated brakes which are attached to each of the rear tracks, and a separate parking brake. Other features include an accelerator/decelerator rocker pedal, a floor mounted dimmer switch, headlights, working lights and signal lights mounted at the front and rear of the cab, rear view mirrors, and a back up horn.

The cab is a fully enclosed all-weather structure which holds two people. The cab has an entry door on each side, one opening window on each side, and a roof escape hatch. The cab is rubber mounted and is separate from the engine compartment to reduce noise and vibrations. All windows are equipped with safety glass, and the windshield is made of laminated safety glass. Wipers are attached to the front and rear windshields to maintain front and rear visibility at all times. All main controls and instrumentation are mounted in a full length center console located between the operator seat and the passenger seat.

The tracked vehicle has a cutter blade centered between the front and rear tracks. The front track compacts snow in the center of a trail preventing deep snow from being caught in the vehicle frame. The rear tracks travel on smooth ground resulting in less disturbance to the cutter blade. The tracks cover the full vehicle width and there is little chance of the vehicle becoming stuck in deep snow. The groomer is located in front of the vehicle's cab between the front and rear tracks. It possesses hydraulic side tilt, giving the vehicle the ability to cut high spots on either side of a trail. A packing plate is located behind the rear track.


Whether the trail grooming vehicle is classifiable under heading 8429, HTSUS, as a grader or leveler, or under heading 8705, HTSUS, as a special purpose motor vehicle?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS 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.

It is claimed that the merchandise is a grader or leveler classifiable under subheading 8429.59.50, HTSUS, which provides for: "[s]elf-propelled bulldozers, angledozers, graders, levelers, scrapers, mechanical shovels, excavators, shovel loaders, tamping machines and road rollers: [m]echanical shovels, excavators and shovel loaders: [o]ther: [o]ther."

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). Explanatory Note 84.29(B) (p. 1201) states that:

. . . this heading . . . includes the following:

(B) Graders and levellers. These are machines designed for earth levelling or smoothing (on flat surfaces or banks) by means of an adjustable grading blade, usually mounted within the wheel base.

Explanatory Note 84.29(B), for classification purposes, is very specific as to the definition of a grader and a leveler. To be classifiable as a grader or a leveler under heading 8429, HTSUS, a machine or vehicle must be designed for earth leveling or smoothing. Therefore, it is our position that the trail grooming vehicle is precluded from classification under heading 8429, HTSUS, because it grooms snow, not earth.

Heading 8705, HTSUS, provides for: "[s]pecial purpose motor vehicles, other than those principally designed for the transport of persons or goods (for example, wreckers, mobile cranes, fire fighting vehicles, concrete mixers, road sweepers, spraying vehicles, mobile workshops, mobile radiological units)."

In part, Explanatory Note 87.05 (p. 1429) states that:

[t]his heading covers a range of motor vehicles, specially constructed or adapted, equipped with various devices that enable them to perform certain non-transport functions, i.e., the primary purpose of a vehicle of this heading is not the transport of persons or goods.

We find that, based upon the above definition of a special purpose motor vehicle under Explanatory Note 87.05, the trail grooming vehicle is classifiable under heading 8705, HTSUS. Specifically, the merchandise is classifiable under subheading 8705.90.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[s]pecial purpose motor vehicles, other than those principally designed for the transport of persons or goods (for example, wreckers, mobile cranes, fire fighting vehicles, concrete mixers, road sweepers, spraying vehicles, mobile workshops, mobile radiological units): [o]ther."


The trail grooming vehicle is classifiable under subheading 8705.90.00, HTSUS. The general, column one rate of duty is 3.7 percent ad valorem.

Because the merchandise is manufactured in Canada, upon the meeting of certain regulations, it will be dutiable at 1.8 percent ad valorem under the U.S.-Canada Free-Trade Agreement.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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