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HQ 950438

JANUARY 28, 1992

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 950438 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 9403.10.00, HTSUS

Area Port Director of Customs
International Ferry Terminal
468 Commercial Street
Portland, Maine 04101

RE: Shelving System; Mobile Storage Shelves on Rails for Office Use; Metal Furniture; I.A. 50/91

Dear Sir:

By memorandum dated August 22, 1991, you initiated this request for internal advice on merchandise described as a mobile shelf storage system designed for office use.


The merchandise in issue is a series of wheeled metal shelves designated the MOBILEX system. These shelves eliminate wasted aisle space between rows of shelves and are said to dramatically increase storage capacity over conventional shelving and filing cabinets. They operate mechanically by means of interrelated cranks and sprockets and run on parallel steel rails embedded in subrails of aluminum bolted to the floor. The shelves have color coded fabric exteriors and are depicted in literature as being suitable for temporary or permanent storage and display purposes in offices, libraries, museums, exhibition rooms, and other non-industrial environments.


Whether the MOBILEX storage system is an office machine of heading 8472 or metal furniture of heading 9403.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with - 2 -
the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

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.

ENs at p. 1302 indicate that office machines of heading 8472 include all machines used in offices, shops, factories, workshops, schools, railway stations, hotels, etc., for doing "office work" (i.e., work concerning the writing, recording, sorting, filing, etc., of correspondence, documents, forms, records, accounts, etc.). The notes indicate further that office machines are classified in heading 8472 only if they have a base for fixing or for placing on a table, desk, etc. Regardless of whether the mobile shelves have the required base, they do no "work" concerning the recording, sorting or filing of documents. They are passive storage devices. Any movement of the shelves merely serves to facilitate access to a particular aisle. We conclude that heading 8472 does not cover this merchandise.

The MOBILEX shelving system is to be distinguished from electric retrieving files of a kind used in health care facilities and municipal offices to organize and retrieve patient information and public records. We would regard such machines as doing office work.

Regarding the heading 9403 claim, ENs at p. 1574 state that for purposes of chapter 94 the term "furniture" means movable articles which have the essential characteristic that they are constructed for placing on the floor or ground, and which are used, mainly with a utilitarian purpose, to equip private dwellings, offices, shops and stores, theaters, etc. The notes at p. 1578 list bookcases and shelving units as examples of furniture for holding various objects. In our opinion, the mobile shelves in issue here are designed to be placed on the floor, and serve the utilitarian purpose of storing and displaying goods. They serve to equip or furnish a particular place. Heading 9403 encompasses this merchandise. - 3 -


Under the authority of GRI 1, the MOBILEX shelving system is provided for in heading 9403, other furniture and parts thereof. Actual classification is in subheading 9403.10.00, HTSUS, metal furniture of a kind used in offices. The rate of duty under this provision on products originating in the territory of Canada is 0.8 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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