United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1997 HQ Rulings > HQ 958475 - HQ 958870 > HQ 958867

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 958867

February 10, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:FC 958867K


TARIFF NO.: 3301.29.5050

Port Director
U. S. Customs Service
2350 N. Sam Houston Parkway East
Houston, Texas 77032

RE: Internal Advice 63/95; Sassafras Oils From Vietnam

Dear Sir:

The following is our response to your request of November 28, 1995, for internal advice concerning the classification of certain oils from Vietnam.


The oils in question from Vietnam were entered as other essential oils of sassafras including Ocotea cymbarum, in subheading 3301.29.5041, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) (1995), with a free column 2 rate of duty. Based upon technical information, the high safrole content of the oils as reported in Customs laboratory reports indicating that some of the components were removed to increase the safrole content, and the conflicting statements submitted as to how the oils were produced, that is, by mere natural distillation or further fractionation, Customs officials concluded that the process went beyond natural distillation and opined that the oils were classified as other mixtures of odoriferous substances containing no alcohol or not over 10 percent alcohol by weight, in subheading 3302.90.10, HTSUS, with a 1995 column 2 rate of duty of 88 cents per kg, plus 50 percent ad valorem.

Submissions by the importer's counsel dated November 16,1995, and March 19, 1996, were submitted. A meeting was requested and was held on July 24, 1996. At that meeting, the importer agreed to obtain samples of wood chips from Vietnam for analytical evaluation. Samples were subsequently submitted and were analyzed by the Customs laboratory. The results of the tests are discussed under the caption, LAW AND ANALYSIS.


The issue is whether the oils were produced by natural distillation and therefore classified in heading 3301, HTSUS, or, were they further processed by fractionation and therefore classified in heading 3302, HTSUS.

Heading 3301, HTSUS, provides for the following;

Essential oils (terpeneless or not), including concretes and absolutes; resinoids; extracted oleoresins; concentrates of essential oils in fats, in fixed oils, in waxes or the like, obtained by enfleurage or maceration; terpenic by-products of the deterpenation of essential oils; aqueous distillates and aqueous solutions of essential oils.

Heading 3302, HTSUS, provides for the following;

Mixtures of odoriferous substances and mixtures (including alcoholic solutions) with a basis of one or more of these substances, of a kind used as raw materials in industry; other preparations based on odoriferous substances, of a kind used for the manufacture of beverages.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) 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 General Rules of Interpretation of the HTSUS. The EN for heading 3301 indicates that one of the processes for obtaining essential oils is by steam distillation. The EN for heading 3301 further states, in part, as follows:

Essential oils, resinoids and extracted oleoresins which have been merely standardised by the removal or addition of some of the principal ingredients remain classified in this heading provided the composition of the standardised product remains within the normal range found in that kind of product in its natural state. However, an essential oil, resinoid or extracted oleoresin which has been fractionated or otherwise modified (other than by the removal of terpenic hydrocarbons), so that the composition of the resulting product is significantly different from that of the original product, is excluded (generally heading 33.02). The heading further excludes products put up with added diluents or carriers such as vegetable oil, dextrose or starch (generally heading 33.02). (Emphasis added.)

The EN for heading 3302 states, in part, the following:

Products obtained by the removal of one or more of the ingredients of an essential oil, resinoid or extracted oleoresin so that the composition of the resulting product is significantly different from that of the original product are also mixtures of this heading. Examples of such products are menthone oil (obtained by freezing peppermint oil, followed by treatment with boric acid, to remove most of the menthol and containing, inter alia, 63 % menthone and 16 % menthol), white camphor oil (obtained from camphor oil by freezing and distilling to remove camphor and safrole and containing 30 to 40 % cineole plus dipentene, pinene, camphene, etc.) and geraniol (obtained by fractional distillation of citronella oil and containing 50 to 77 % geraniol together with varying amounts of citronellol and nerol). (Emphasis added.)

As noted under the caption FACTS, we have subsequently received a report from the Office of Laboratories & Scientific Services, of the results of the Customs laboratory at New Orleans in conducting an analytical evaluation of the submitted wood chips from Vietnam. The wood chips were processed by steam distillation. Also, samples of the oils previously tested by the laboratory were retested for comparison purposes. The report concludes that, with the exception of the safrole content, the composition of the distilled oils obtained from the wood chips from Vietnam is similar to that of the imported oils. Both products show the same qualitative analytical profile. There is no indication of additional impurities or additives or missing components with both products. There are a number of different reasons that could explain the differences in the amount of safrole. For example, safrole, a highly volatile component, could be gradually lost during transportation

Based upon the further reports from the Customs laboratory, we conclude that the oils are classified as other essential oils in subheading 3001.29.50, HTSUS. The technical information also indicates that the oils distilled from the roots of the Vietnamese sassafras trees, Cinnamomum parthenoxylon, are not from trees of the Sassafras albidum and Ocotea cymbarum varieties, which produce sassafras oils. Accordingly, for statistical purposes, the oils in question are classified as essential oils in subheading 3301.29.5050, HTSUS.


Oils extracted from Cinnamomum parthenoxylon plants (or trees) in Vietnam by a natural distillation process are classified as other essential oils, in subheading 3301.29.5050, HTSUS, (1995) with a free column 2 rate of duty. This decision only covers the instant oils extracted by a distillation process from Vietnamese Cinnamomum parthenoxylon plants .

You should mail this decision to the internal advice applicant, through its representative, no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: