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NY 896375

April 25, 1994

CLA-2-39:S:N:N1:103 896375


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.9590

Mr. Thomas J. Schmidt
Stearns Manufacturing Co.
PO Box 1498
St. Cloud, MN 56302

RE: The tariff classification of an automatic inflator mechanism from Germany

Dear Mr. Schmidt:

In your letter dated March 30, 1994 you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The model S3001S Secumatic Automatic Inflator Mechanism is used to initiate inflation of a bladder in an inflatable life jacket. It basically consists of a plastic housing, a spring- loaded plastic pin mechanism, a short pull cord, and a water soluble pill. After importation into the United States it will be attached to domestically made life jackets.

To use the device, a small pressurized carbon dioxide gas cylinder must first be connected to the unit. The mechanism is activated either by manually pulling on the cord or automatically by dissolving of the pill upon contact with the water. Either method causes the spring activated firing pin to pierce the gas cylinder, thus allowing the gas to inflate the life jacket. The model S3001S will be imported without the gas cylinder.

You have suggested that this article is classifiable as a mechanical appliance having an individual function in subheading 8479.90.98, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS). No such subheading currently exists in the HTS. Subheading 8479.89.90, HTS, provides for machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere...:other machines and mechanical appliances: other: other. Subheading 8479.90.95 provides for other parts of the foregoing machines and mechanical appliances.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the system. Customs believes the notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80.

The ENs to heading 8479 state:

...the following are to be regarded as having "individual functions":

(A) Mechanical devices, with or without motors or other driving force, whose function can be performed distinctly from and independently of any other machine or appliance.

(B) Mechanical devices which cannot perform their function unless they are mounted on another machine or appliance, or are incorporated in a more complex entity, provided that this function:

(i) is distinct from that which is performed by the machine or appliance whereon they are to be mounted, or by the entity wherein they are to be incorporated, and

(ii) does not play an integral and inseparable part in the operation of such machine, appliance or entity.

Since the S3001S only functions when incorporated within a more complex entity (a life jacket), it must meet the terms of paragraph (B) in order to be classifiable in subheading 8479.89.90, HTS. The S3001S is a mechanical device which performs a function (puncturing a gas cylinder) which is distinct from the function of the life jacket in which it will be incorporated. However, if the inflator mechanism is not activated the life jacket will not operate (i.e., inflate) to keep an individual afloat. Since the life jacket cannot operate without the S3001S inflator mechanism, the S3001S plays an integral and inseparable part in the operation of the entity. The S3001S device does not have an individual function as defined in the ENs and thus it cannot be classified as a machine or mechanical appliance in subheading 8479.89.90, HTS.

Life jackets are not commonly known as machines or mechanical appliances. The fact that an article such as a life jacket contains a mechanical device which initiates an action but then plays no part in the purpose for which the article is used (providing buoyancy) does not make the article a mechanical appliance. Since life jackets are not machines or mechanical appliances, the S3001S cannot be classified as a part of a machine or mechanical appliance.

The applicable subheading for the S3001S Secumatic Automatic Inflator Mechanism will be 3926.90.9590, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for other articles of plastics, other. The rate of duty will be 5.3 percent ad valorem.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Section 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


Jean F. Maguire
Area Director

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