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HQ 954602

October 20, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954602 ch


TARIFF NO.: 4812.00.0000

Assistant Area Director
Commercial Operations
New York Seaport Area
U.S. Customs Service
6 World Trade Center
New York, New York 10048

RE: Internal advice; classification of industrial depth filters; paper pulp; cellulose; diatomaceous earth; article of paper pulp; slab, plate, block.

Dear Madam:

This is in response to your request for internal advice dated June 11, 1993, requesting tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) for certain industrial depth filters. A sample has been submitted to this office for examination.


The submitted sample, designated as SWK supra 100, is a depth filter imported by Seitz Filtration, Incorporated, from Germany. The sample is composed of approximately 45 percent diatomaceous earth and 45 percent cellulose. The remaining 10 percent is comprised of cotton linters and resin. Descriptive literature accompanying the sample suggests that the diatomaceous earth is used as a replacement for or in lieu of asbestos. In addition, the literature indicates that the filter is principally used for liquid and industrial filtration.

A sample of the instant merchandise was analyzed by the New York Customs Laboratory. Laboratory report 2-93-30660-001, dated May 28, 1993, states that the filter weighs 1,336.4 grams per square meter and has a thickness of 3.670 mm. The report also states that it is composed of chemical bleached pulp fibers and is not coated.

You have indicated that the article was not manufactured on a paper making machine. Rather, the paper pulp was compressed together without the aid of any binding materials.

The merchandise was entered under subheading 8421.99.00, HTSUSA, which provides for parts of filtering machinery. You propose heading 4812, HTSUSA, which provides for filter blocks, slabs and plates of paper pulp as the proper classification. In addition, subheading 4805.40.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for uncoated filter paper and paperboard, and subheading 4823.20.9000, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of paper pulp: filter paper and paperboard, are offered as possible alternatives.


What is the proper tariff classification for the instant depth filter?


Heading 4812, HTSUSA, provides for filter blocks, slabs and plates, of paper pulp. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to heading 4812 provide in pertinent part that:

These are composed of vegetable fibres (cotton, flax, wood, etc.) with a high cellulose content, compressed together in the form of blocks, slabs or plates without the aid of any binding materials, the fibres remaining in a loosely adherent condition.

The vegetable fibres may be mixed with asbestos fibres; in that case, the blocks, slabs or plates are classified in this heading provided that they still retain the character of articles of paper pulp.

In this case, the filter features a high cellulose content (approximately 45 percent), and has been compressed together without the aid of binding materials. It appears to be in the form of a plate or slab, as it is a rigid, flat and relatively thick piece of material.

Diatomaceous earth, which comprises 45 percent of the article, is utilized as a substitute for asbestos in this instance. The EN to heading 4812 provide that filter slabs or plates remain classifiable in the heading when mixed with asbestos fibers, so long as the filter retains its character as an article of paper pulp. In this case, the New York Customs Laboratory has determined that the filter is an article of paper pulp. The diatomaceous earth is nothing more than a mineral in its natural state. It is the paper pulp which lends the filter its structure and makes it possible to use the diatomaceous earth as a filtering agent. Under these circumstances, we conclude that the instant filter is an article of paper pulp. Hence, it is classifiable, pursuant to heading 4812, as a filter plate or slab.

Subheading 8421.99.0080, HTSUSA, encompasses parts for filtering equipment. The EN to heading 8421, at pages 1183-1184, state in part that:

Subject to the general provisions regarding the classification of parts (see the General Explanatory Note to Section XVI), the heading covers parts for the above-mentioned types of filters and purifiers. Such parts include, inter alia: Leaves for intermittent vacuum filters; chassis, frames and plates for filter presses; rotary drums for liquid or gas filters; baffles and perforated plates, for gas filters.

It should be noted, however, that filter blocks of paper pulp fall in heading 48.12 and that many other filtering elements (ceramics, textiles, felts, etc.) are classified according to their constituent material.

Thus, filtering blocks of heading 4812 are specifically excluded from heading 8421. We conclude that filtering slabs or plates of heading 4812 are excluded from heading 8421 by implication. Accordingly, heading 8421 does not describe the instant filter.

Subheading 4805.40, HTSUSA, provides for filter paper and paperboard. The EN to heading 4805, at page 673, read in part as follows:

This heading covers machine-made uncoated papers and paperboards as manufactured in the form of rolls or sheets (for dimensions, see Note 7 to this Chapter), other than those included in headings 48.01 to 48.04. It excludes, however, certain special papers and paperboards or special products (headings 48.06 to 48.08 and headings 48.12 to 48.16) and paper and paperboard which have been subjected to processes other than those permitted in Note 2, for example, coated or impregnated paper or paperboard (headings 48.09 to 48.11) (Emphasis added).

As this language indicates, filter products of heading 4812 and articles of paper pulp not made on a paper-making machine are excluded from the scope of heading 4805. As the SWK filter is described by heading 4812 and was not made on a paper-making machine, heading 4805 is inapplicable.

Finally, subheading 4823 provides for other articles of paper pulp not more specifically provided for elsewhere in the Nomenclature. Subheading 4823.20.9000 encompasses other filter paper and paperboard. Heading 4823 applies only to merchandise not elsewhere described in Chapter 48. As heading 4812 describes the SWK filter, we need not consider heading 4823.


The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 4812.00.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for filter blocks, slabs and plates, of paper pulp. The applicable rate of duty is 3.7 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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