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HQ 956363

September 2, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 956363 BC


TARIFF NO.: 4418.90.4090

Marty Langtry
Castelazo & Associates
5420 W. 104th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90045

RE: Reconsideration of NYRL 893902; classification of hardwood flooring; tongued and grooved on the edges and ends; HRL 955712; HRL 952940; builders' carpentry and joinery of wood

Dear Ms. Langtry:

This responds to your letter of April 29, 1994, wherein you requested that we reconsider the classification decision made in New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 893902, dated February 2, 1994. The ruling classified solid hardwood flooring from Australia. We have reviewed the matter, and our decision follows.


The merchandise at issue is hardwood cypress flooring from Australia (Callitris glauca). The sample submitted with this request for reconsideration is a board measuring 20 inches x 3 1/4 inches x 3/4 of an inch thick. It is tongued along one edge and end and grooved along the other edge and end. Along the bottom face (or surface), two grooves run the length of the board. According to NYRL 893902, the boards will be imported in various lengths and widths, from 10 inches to 84 inches x 2 1/2 to 5 1/4 inches.

The boards were classified in NYRL 893902 in subheading 4418.90.4090, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for builders' joinery and carpentry of wood . . . : other: other: other. You contend that they should be classified in subheading 4409.20.2560, HTSUSA, which provides for wood . . . continuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, molded, rounded or the like) along any of its edges or faces, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed: nonconiferous: wood flooring: other.


What is the proper classification for the subject hardwood flooring that is tongued and grooved on the edges and ends?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is accomplished in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the Harmonized System is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's will then be applied in numerical order.

Further, the Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's. Accordingly, the GRI's and EN's are utilized as the basis for the classification determination discussed below. (See T.D. 89-80, quoting from a report of the Joint Committee on the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, endorsing use of the EN's in the classification of goods. 23 Cust. Bull. 379 (1989), 54 Fed. Reg. 35,127 (August 23, 1989).) (See also Totes, Inc. v. United States, No. 91-09-00714, slip op. 92-153 (CIT September 4, 1992), 26 Cust. Bull. No. 40, 35, 37 n. 3 (September 30, 1992), citing T.D. 89-80 and acknowledging the authority of the EN's.)

In Headquarters Ruling Letter 955712, dated April 20, 1994, we classified hardwood flooring similar to the flooring at issue; it was tongued and grooved on both the edges and the ends. The flooring was classified in subheading 4418.90.4090, HTSUSA, as other builders' joinery and carpentry of wood. In explaining why the flooring was not classifiable in heading 4409, HTSUSA, the ruling cited the EN's for heading 4409, as follows (see EN's, HCDCS, Vol. 2, p.629):

This heading covers timber, particularly in the form of boards, planks, etc., which, after sawing or squaring, has been continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces either to facilitate subsequent assembly or to obtain the moldings or beadings described . . . below, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed [italics added].

The ruling then stated that the EN's use of the terms "edges" and "faces" is significant and limiting. Its exclusion of the term "ends" clearly indicates that the heading includes boards that have been worked along the edges or faces but not along the ends. This conclusion is supported later in the same EN where the following is provided:

The heading also excludes:

(b) Wood which has been mortised or tenoned, dovetailed or similarly worked at the ends and wood assembled into panels being builders' carpentry or joinery (underlining added).

Thus, heading 4409, HTSUSA, provides for wood that is continuously worked along any of its edges or faces, but not along the ends. Wood that is worked along the ends is beyond the scope of heading 4409, HTSUSA. (See also HRL 952940, dated March 24, 1993, for a similar conclusion.)

Based on the foregoing, the flooring at issue, being tongued and grooved on the ends, is not classifiable in heading 4409, HTSUSA. Like the flooring classified in the rulings cited above, the flooring at issue here is classifiable in subheading 4418.90.4090, HTSUSA.


The hardwood flooring at issue, tongued and grooved on the edges and the ends, is classifiable in subheading 4418.90.4090, HTSUSA, as other builders' joinery and carpentry of wood; other; other. Thus, NYRL 893902 is affirmed.


John Durant, Director

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