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HQ 953076

October 18, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953076 LTO


TARIFF NO.: 7323.93.00

Mr. Ned H. Marshak
Sharretts, Paley, Carter and Blauvelt, P.C. 67 Broad Street
New York, New York 10004

RE: Mousetrap in plastic housing; heading 7326; heading 8479; EN 73.23; EN 73.26; Add. U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a); GRI 3(a); GRI 3(b); NY 841011 and 876189 revoked

Dear Mr. Marshak:

This is in response to your letter of December 9, 1992, requesting the classification of a mousetrap in a plastic housing under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The mousetrap, referred to as the "d-con Ultra Set Covered Snap Trap," is composed of a spring wire activated mechanism which snaps closed when pressure is applied. The operating mechanism, except for the bait table and a wire covering (which are made of plastic), is made of stainless steel. The entire mechanism, except for a small appendage used to activate the trap, is enclosed in a plastic housing. The housing has a hinged end which permits the placement of bait on the bait table and the removal of a mouse caught in the trap. The hinged portion of the housing has an opening which, when closed, permits the mouse to enter the trap to seek out the food therein.


Whether the mousetrap is classifiable under heading 7326, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of iron or steel.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS - 2 -
govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states in pertinent part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ."

The headings at issue are as follows:

7323 Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of iron or steel . . .

7326 Other articles of iron or steel

8479 Machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter . . .

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Co-operation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings.

EN 73.23, pg. 1035, states that heading 7323, HTSUS, "comprises a wide range of iron or steel articles, not more specifically covered by other headings of the Nomenclature, used for table, kitchen or other household purposes; it includes the same goods for use in hotels, restaurants, boarding-houses, hospitals, canteens, barracks, etc. [emphasis in original]." While it can be argued that these traps can be used in places other than those listed above, it is our opinion that the principal use for the traps is in the household (or in hotels, restaurants, boarding-houses, etc.). See Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a).

The mousetrap in question consists of both plastic and stainless steel components. GRI 3(b) provides that "composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components . . . which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character . . . ."

The primary functional component of the mousetrap in question is the spring wire device, which, when tripped, releases the spring and brings the metal gauntlet down on the mouse. With the exception of the plastic bait table, which holds the trip
mechanism in place until the weight of the mouse attempting to remove the bait activates the metal mechanism, and plastic wire covering, all of the mousetrap's active components are composed of metal. The plastic housing which encloses the entire trap, except for the wire appendage used to activate the trap, does not assist in the killing of mice. The housing merely enhances the aesthetic qualities of the trap. If the plastic housing were removed, the trap would still be able to perform its primary function. Accordingly, it is our opinion that the stainless steel components impart the mousetrap's essential character. As such, the mousetraps are classifiable under heading 7323, HTSUS.

While EN 73.26, pg. 1038, states that heading 7326, HTSUS, covers articles of wire, such as mousetraps, the mousetraps in question remain in heading 7323, HTSUS, due to the basic command of GRI 3(a). GRI 3(a) provides that "[t]he heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description." Heading 7323, HTSUS, is more specific than heading 7326, HTSUS, the basket provision for articles of iron or steel, as well as, heading 8479, HTSUS, the basket provision for machines and mechanical appliances.


The mousetrap is classifiable under subheading 7323.93.00, HTSUS, which provides for other household articles of iron or steel, of stainless steel. The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 3.4% ad valorem.


In NY 841011, dated June 9, 1989, a plastic mousetrap with a metal spring was held to be classifiable under subheading 3924.90.50, HTSUS, which provides for other household articles of plastics. In NY 876189, dated July 21, 1992, a mousetrap consisting of wood and steel components was held to be classifiable under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of iron or steel. Both rulings will be revoked.


John Durant, Director

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