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 > 1998 NY Rulings > NY C84265 - NY C84343 > NY C84340

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
NY C84340

March 11, 1998

CLA-2-44:RR:NC:SP:230 C84340


TARIFF NO.: 4421.90.4000

Ms. Paula M. Connelly, Esq.
Middleton & Shrull
44 Mall Road, Suite 208
Burlington, MA 01803-4530

RE: The tariff classification of folding three-panel wooden room screens with openings to display photographs. The screens are imported from China or Thailand.

Dear Ms. Connelly:

In your letter dated February 3, 1998, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of FETCO International, Inc. of Randolph, MA.

The items in question, referred to in the information submitted as wooden room screens, are imported in various styles. A copy of a page from the FETCO catalog shows styles 4160, 4161, and 4162 and describes them as follows: "FOLDING ROOM SCREEN - Our 5'9" tall folding three-panel wooden room screen decorates any setting with 15 favorite images. Holds 8x10 photographs or art prints." A drawing has been submitted for styles 415500RS, 415600RS and 415700RS which are referred to as "Floating Room Screens".

The room screens consist of three wooden panels connected by metal hinges. Each panel incorporates five openings which may be used to display photographs, prints, or similar objects. Each opening consists of a piece of clear glass and a removable backing. The backing is removed to insert the photograph or print and is then reattached to the panel to hold the photograph or print in place. Both styles are constructed similarly, except the backing of the "Floating Room Screen" consists of textured glass. Both screens measure approximately 70 inches in height and 35 inches in width when fully extended, and both screens can display a total of fifteen 8" x 10" photographs or prints.

You believe that the wood screens should be classified under subheading 4414.00.0000, HTSUSA, as wooden frames for painting, photographs, mirrors or similar objects. Your claim is based on the fact that the room screens are designed for and used to display photographs and similar articles. Furthermore, three Customs' rulings are cited, NY 855306, NY 857911, and NY 886597. These rulings address the classification of wood screens; however, you believe that these rulings are distinguishable from the present wooden room screens because in the cited rulings the screens were decorative and divided or concealed an area of a room.

We do not agree with your conclusion. The articles in question are constructed, sold, bought, and known as screens. They are not known or constructed as picture frames. Although each screen panel incorporates 8" x 10" frame-like openings, the essential character of the article is that of a screen which decorates a room setting. The 8" x 10" frame-like openings are features of the screen.

You have also proposed an alternative classification. You believe that the subject articles are classifiable under subheading 9403.60.8080, HTSUSA, as other wooden furniture.

In support to your alternative claim, you cite Customs' ruling HQ 087193 where various panels used as office workstations dividers were classified as furniture under heading 9403, HTSUS. However, the panels addressed by HQ 087193 are clearly distinguishable from the present room screens, that is, they were panels designed and used to be part of workstations. In fact, two of the three panel series had panel connectors that allowed pieces to slide or attach other components together. The panels were components of complete modular office furniture.

The General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 94 state as follows:

For the purpose of this Chapter, the term "furniture" means:

(A) Any "movable" articles (not included under other more specific headings of the Nomenclature), 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, hotels, theatres, cinemas, offices... (Emphasis added)

The articles in question belong to a class or kind of goods which are principally used for decorative purposes. They do not have mainly a utilitarian purpose, and they do not serve to equip private dwellings, hotels, offices, etc. In your letter, you state: " The screen frames are not used primarily to divide or to conceal an area of a room." In addition, the FETCO catalog states: "Our...wooden room screen decorates any setting with 15 favorite images."

We find Congressional intent in subheadings 4421.90.30 and 40, HTSUS, which provide for wood screens. Clearly, Congress was aware that screens which are not mainly used with a utilitarian purpose are not furniture of Chapter 94. Thus, a provision was created in heading 4421, HTSUS, for wood screens.

In addition, the nomenclature of subheadings 4421.90.30 and 40, HTSUS, is identical to the nomenclature of the previous tariff (TSUSA). The wooden room screens in question are of the type which were classifiable under the wood screen provision of the TSUSA. The conference report to the 1988 Omnibus Trade Bill, states that "on a case-by-case basis prior decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting the HTS[US], particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTS[US]." H. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. 548, 550 (1988). (Emphasis added.)

In our opinion, the Folding Room Screens in question are not principally used with a utilitarian purpose. Thus, they are not furniture of Chapter 94.

The applicable subheading for the folding three-panel wooden room screens will be 4421.90.4000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), which provides for other wood blinds, shutters, screens and shades, all the foregoing with or without their hardware. The rate of duty will be 5.7 ad valorem.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Paul Garretto at 212-466-5779.


Robert B. Swierupski

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: