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HQ 952348


CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 952348 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8501.10.40, HTSUS

District Director of Customs
P.O. Box 789
Great Falls, Montana 59403

RE: Engine Starter; Starter Motor for Model Airplane; Hand- Held Device for Starting Model Airplane Motor; Heading 8511; Electric Motor; Heading 8501; I.A. 48/92

Dear Sir:

Your letter of July 6, 1992 (ENT-1-CO:FM/DEN), forwarded a letter, dated June 29, 1992, from the importer which initiated this request for internal advice. The merchandise was entered at the port of Denver. Our decision follows.


The merchandise in issue is engine starter no. 78-460 and 78-461 from China. It is a hand-held cylindrical device, 7 inches long and 2 1/2 inches in diameter, designed exclusively for starting model aircraft engines. Battery clip-ons attach by heavy duty cable to one end of the starter. The clips can attach to a car battery to recharge the 12 volt starter battery. At the other end is an armature and shaft to which is attached an aluminum drive cone with rubber insert. The rubber insert butts against the spinner or cone on the plane's propeller shaft. When the starter is activated by an on/off switch the shaft rotates, thus creating a friction fit with the spinner. The plane's propeller begins to rotate and the engine starts. The engine starter is then pulled away.

The merchandise was entered under the provision for starter motors and dual purpose starter-generators, in subheading 8511.40.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The import specialist at Denver proposes to classify the goods under the provision for other motors of an output of under 18.65 W, in subheading 8501.10.40, HTSUS. The proposed rate advance is based on the opinion of the concerned National Import Specialist that the starter motor is not of the kind encompassed by heading 8511.


Whether a starter motor for model airplane engines is provided for in heading 8511.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with 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.

Chapter 85, Note 2, HTSUS, states that headings 8501 to 8504 do not apply to goods described in heading 8511, 8512, 8540, 8541 or 8542. Therefore, if the starter motor is provided for in heading 8511 it cannot be classified in heading 8501.

The internal advice applicant notes that under the HTSUS' predecessor tariff code, the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), these starter motors were broken out statistically under item 683.60, a provision for other electrical starting and ignition equipment for internal combustion engines. The language of item 683.60 is substantially similar to the language of heading 8511.

The similarity in language, however, is neither persuasive nor determinative. While the underlying intent of the conversion from the TSUS to the HTSUS was to be revenue neutral to the fullest extent possible, it was recognized that the conversion would, in some cases, result in changes in rates of duty. Merchandise is classifiable under the HTSUS in accordance with the GRIs and the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs).

The 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.

Relevant heading 85.11 ENs state, at p. 1348, that the heading covers electrical starting or ignition equipment and appliances for internal combustion engines of any kind, whether for use in motor cars, aircraft, boats or the like, or for
stationary engines. The ENs list starter motors at (F) and describe them as follows:

These are small electric motors, usually of the DC series wound type. They are fitted with a small pinion capable of travelling up and down a screwed shaft, or with some other mechanical device for coupling them temporarily to the internal combustion engine to be started.

Heading 8511 encompasses electrical ignition or starting equipment of a kind used for spark-ignition or compression- ignition internal combustion engines. The starter motors in issue appear to be within this description. However, we interpret the cited ENs to indicate that starter motors for model airplane engines are not of like kind with those used in motor cars, aircraft or boats. Heading 8511 is therefore eliminated from consideration and chapter 85, note 2 is not operative.

Heading 8501 provides for electric motors and generators. The heading covers machines for transforming electrical energy into mechanical power, and includes both rotary motors and linear motors. The starter motors in issue are provided for in heading 8501.


Under the authority of GRI 1, engine starter nos. 78-460 and 78-461 are provided for in heading 8501. Actual classification is in subheading 8501.10.40, HTSUS, a provision for other motors of an output of under 18.65 W.

A copy of this decision should be provided to the internal advice applicant.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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