United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1994 HQ Rulings > HQ 0953456 - HQ 0953627 > HQ 0953625

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 953625

September 23, 1993

CLA-2-CO:R:C:F 953625 K


TARIFF No.: 9507.90.7000

Irene Ringwood, Esq.
Bogle & Gates
The Homer Building
Suite 370, South Tower
601 Thirteenth St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

RE: Classification of Artificial Baits or Lures Combined With Fishing Hooks

Dear Ms. Ringwood:

This is our response to your request for a classification ruling dated March 17, 1993, on behalf of Mustard & Son, Inc. Sample components were submitted.


The merchandise consists of artificial fishing baits or lures that will be combined with fishing hooks.


The issue is whether composite articles consisting of artificial baits or lures and fishing hooks are classifiable by reference to rule 3(b) of the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as artificial baits and flies, subheading 9507.90.7000, HTSUS.


The classification of goods in HTSUS is governed by the principles of the GRI. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRI, taken in order. There is no provision in the tariff for a composite article consisting of bait or a lure affixed to a fishing hook. Accordingly, the article cannot be classifiable under GRI 1.

Since the composite article cannot be classified according to GRI 1, GRI 2(b) then requires that "the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3." The article meets the definition of a composite article because it is partially described in two subheadings, subheading 9507.90.7000, as artificial baits, and subheading 9507.20.40 or subheading 9507.20.80, as fish hooks. GRI 3(a) provides that when classification of goods is under two or more headings (in this case, subheadings) "the heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description." However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substance contained in ...composite goods...those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods." Accordingly, the composite article cannot be classifiable by reference to GRI 3(a).

GRI 3(b) provides that "composite goods...made up of different components...which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the ... component which gives them their essential character....". You opined that since the bait or lure cannot catch a fish without the hook and that a hook can catch a fish (such as the blue-backed herring) without a bait or lure, then the essential character of the article is the hook and not the lure and that the composite article is classifiable under subheading 9507.20.40 or subheading 9507.20.80, as fish hooks.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter 951921, dated July 6, 1992, involving similar facts, we concluded that since a hook could not perform its ultimate function without a lure, then the lure or artificial bait imparted the essential character of the article and by reference to GRI 3(b), the article was classified as artificial baits and flies, subheading 9507.90.7000, HTSUS.

We adhere to our position that the artificial bait or lure imparts the essential character of the article and not the hook. A hook is not used to bait a fish but a bait is used to hook a fish. A lure is designed to imitate in appearance some form of natural food attractive to fish, such as artificial fish, angleworms, flies, insects, etc., and to create a type of movement or action that will provoke the fish to strike the lure. Artificial baits and flies including lures are of numerous kinds and varieties, the making of which requires chiefly hand labor of varying degrees of skill. Lure bodies are sold without hooks attached. But there are also many types of artificial baits that are further processed by assembling the lure bodies with the appropriate hardware (i. e. eye screws, snap swivels, grommets, and hooks) and they are also known and recognized as fishing lures. The lure element performs the principal function and
plays the principal role in the use of the composite article. The product is commonly and commercially known and referred to as a fishing lure and not as a fishing hook or a fishing hook with a lure. The product is designed and marketed principally for its unique lure configuration and particular application in terms of the type of fishing and the target fish. The weight, size and value of the lure component will almost always exceed that of the embedded or otherwise attached hook.

At best, your opinions may be convincing that each component, the artificial bait and hook, is equally essential in character. In that case, GRI 3(c) provides that "when goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or (b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration." Accordingly, by referenced to GRI 3(c), the article would also be classifiable under subheading 9507.90.7000, HTSUS.


Artificial baits or lures combined with fishing hooks are classifiable by reference to GRI 3(b), under subheading 9507.90.7000, HTSUS, with duty at 9 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: