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HQ 555791

March 26, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:S 555791 RA


TARIFF NOs.: 9023.00.00: 9810.00.55

Dr. Edward J. Barrett
Molecular Design Inc.
P.O. Box 336, Lenox Hill Station
New York, NY 10021

RE: Applicability for duty-free treatment under subheadings 9023.00.00, and 9810.00.55, HTSUSA, of molecular models imported for demonstrations in teaching and research by colleges and universities

Dear Dr. Barrett:

This is in reference to your letter of November 1, 1990, to the Area Director of Customs, New York, regarding the eligibility for duty-free treatment of certain molecular models used for demonstration purposes in colleges and universities for teaching and research. Your letter was referred to this office for a reply.


The merchandise consists of molecular models of biopolymers for use in teaching and research at colleges and universities, and organic chemistry molecular models for use in colleges by teachers or students studying organic chemistry. These plastic models are used to visualize important chemical concepts and you indicate that, until recently, they were admitted duty-free. On March 5, 1991, you advised a member of my staff by telephone that the models are imported by your company and placed in stock pending receipt of future purchase orders.


Whether molecular models imported for use in teaching and research by colleges and universities are entitled to duty-free treatment under subheading 9023.00.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), or subheading 9810.00.55, HTSUSA.


Subheading 9810.00.55, HTSUSA, provides for the free entry of articles imported for the use of any public library, any other public institutions or any nonprofit institution established for educational, scientific, literary or philosophical purposes or for the encouragement of the fine arts, including patterns and models exclusively for exhibition or educational use at any such institution. However, U.S. Note 1, subchapter X, Chapter 98, HTSUSA, provides that articles entered under this provision must be exclusively for the use of the institution involved, and not for distribution, sale or other commercial use within 5 years after being entered. Therefore, the articles must be imported by the qualified institution or in behalf of the institution.

It does not appear that Molecular Design Inc. is acting directly on behalf of any institutions, and the facts indicate that it is a commercial enterprise engaged in retail sale. Therefore, the models would not be entitled to duty-free treatment under subheading 9810.00.55, HTSUSA.

However, subheading 9023.00.00, HTSUSA, provides duty-free treatment for:

[i]nstruments, apparatus and models, designed for demonstrational purposes (for example, in education or exhibitions), unsuitable for other uses, and parts and accessories thereof ...

The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA, which constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, state that this subheading covers a wide range of instruments, apparatus and models designed for demonstrational purposes. The exemplars provided in the Explanatory Note to subheading 9023 further indicate that this subheading has a broad scope. We are of the opinion that the articles at issue, used for educational and demonstrational purposes, fall within the description of this subheading.


Because the models are being imported for commercial purposes, they are not eligible for duty-free treatment under subheading 9810.00.55, HTSUSA. However, they are classifiable
in subheading 9023.00.00, HTSUSA, which provides for "... models, designed for demonstrational purposes ...." This provision provides for duty-free treatment.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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