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HQ 959570

December 20, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 959570 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 7316.19.00

Port Director of Customs
P.O. Box 619050
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX 75261

RE: PRD 5501-96-100179; Inner Cap Nut; Steel Fastener With Internal and External Threads; Threaded Fastener for Use With Studs in Wheel Hub Assembly; Nuts, Subheading 7318.16.00; Other Threaded Fasteners; NY 829971; United-Carr Fastener Corp. v. U.S.

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 5501-96-100179, filed against your classification of a fastener called the "cap nut," models 5988, 35336, 35337, 22621 and 22622, made in Taiwan. Drawings and descriptive literature were submitted with the protest. The entries under protest were liquidated on March 5 and 15, 1996, and this protest timely filed on April 13, 1996. In response to a request from this office, counsel for the protestant clarified certain issues in a submission dated November 25, 1996.


The articles under protest, also referred to as inner cap nuts, are of carbon steel, 1 1/8 inches long. They are tubular, threaded both internally and externally, and are square-sided on one end and open, lip-shaped on the other end. Inner cap nuts are used to hold and secure the rear wheels on trucks and trailers having dual rear wheels. In use, the rear inner wheel is mounted on the studs of the truck's wheel hub and the inner cap nut threaded onto each stud and torqued by the square-sided end. This holds the wheel in place by means of the lip-shaped end. Then, the outer wheel is mounted on the wheel hub over the inner cap nut and a standard lug nut threaded onto the inner cap nut to secure the outer wheel. - 2 -

Counsel maintains that these articles are commonly and commercially referred to as nuts; that they conform to the description for "nuts" in relevant HTSUS Explanatory Notes; that subheading 7318.16.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), provides for these articles eo nomine, by name, and, notwithstanding their specialized design, such designation includes all forms of the named article; that this provision is more specific than the basket provision in subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS, for "other" threaded articles; and finally, numerous administrative rulings on nuts purport to support classification in subheading 7318.16.00.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

7318 Screws, bolts, nuts...and similar articles, of iron or steel:

Threaded articles:

7318.16.00 Nuts

7318.19.00 Other


Whether the threaded fasteners in issue are "nuts" for tariff purposes.


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.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENS) constitute the 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 - 3 -
classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the ENS should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

As to counsel's first contention, relevant ENs at p. 1028, describe the term Nuts as "[m]etal pieces designed to hold the corresponding bolts in place. They are usually tapped throughout but are sometimes blind." We disagree that the articles in issue conform to this description. Notwithstanding that studs are a type of bolt, the inner cap functions in this case not to hold studs in place but to hold the wheel in place. Moreover, a tapped article is one in which an internal or female thread is cut. The articles in issue are threaded both internally and externally.

Counsel's second contention that these articles are commonly and commercially referred to as nuts is apparently based on promotional literature which depicts the "Inner Cap Nut, Special," on blueprints for an "Inner Cap Nut" and installation instructions bearing the same designation. An importer's promotional literature and marketing profile are indications of how the importer views his product. Thus, they are of some probative value, but not conclusive of the common meaning of a term that is not otherwise defined in the legal text. Resort to dictionaries, lexicons and other reliable sources of information is appropriate. In this case, no dictionary or other lexicographic authority of which we are aware describes an article threaded both internally and externally as a nut. Moreover, the rulings counsel cites involve fasteners whose design and function are dissimilar to the inner cap nut.

Finally, counsel maintains that the specialized, nontraditional shape of the inner cap nut should not preclude it from being classified as a nut. This is because in the absence of a contrary legislative intent, judicial decision, or administrative practice, an unlimited eo nomine designation will normally include all forms of the named article. In support of this proposition he cites United-Carr Fastener Corporation v. United States, 56 Cust. Ct. 347, C.D. 2648, aff'd. C.A.D. 913 (1967), in which the court addressed the tariff status of the TEE NUT under the HTSUS predecessor tariff code, the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS). The court classified this T-shaped fastener with internally threaded hollow stem or barrel designed to receive a bolt as a nut, despite the presence of a flange for load distribution purposes in the manner of a washer, and three or four prongs to keep the article from rotating as it is
tightened with the bolt. The court found that the flange and prongs replaced the function previously performed by a washer and did not enable the TEE NUT to perform significant additional functions over and above those of a traditional nut. In its intended service application, the TEE NUT functioned with a bolt to join a thing or things together by being tightened onto the bolt by means of its internal thread. In this case, however, the inner cap nut functions not only to secure a truck or trailer's inner wheel onto a stud by means of its internal thread, but also to serve as a base onto which the outer wheel is mounted and secured by a lug nut tightened onto its external thread. This is a significant additional function not associated with nuts of subheading 7318.16.00, HTSUS. NY 829971, dated June 7, 1988, a substantially similar fastener was held to be classifiable in subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the inner cap nut is provided for in heading 7318. It is classifiable in subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS.

The protest should be DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you should mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision 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
Tariff Classification

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