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NY C89668

August 17, 1998

CLA-2-44:RR:NC:SP:230 C89668


TARIFF NO.: 4418.90.4020

Robert A. DeCamp
Livingston International, Inc.
100 Walnut Street
P.O. Box 2850
Champlain, NY 12919

RE: The tariff classification of unassembled wood trusses from Canada

Dear Mr. DeCamp:

In your letter dated June 24, 1998, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of MacMillan Bloedel, Ltd., Vancouver, B.C. In addition, you requested that Customs accord confidential treatment to certain identifying information. However , in a following letter faxed to this office on July 13, 1998, you have withdrawn the request for confidential treatment.

Your client, MacMillan Bloedel, contemplates exporting wood trusses to the Unites States. The trusses will be manufactured from Canadian softwood lumber. You have submitted a number of diagrams showing a variety of roof truss configurations; however, for the purpose of this ruling request, you would like us to focus on one specific type referred to as the roof "fink" (W) truss.

Purchasers will order specific trusses to meet their design specifications of the building under construction. MacMillan Bloedel intends to manufacture the subject trusses and ship them to the United States unassembled to reduce transportation costs. All the wood components necessary for each truss will be shipped together. The necessary hardware to assemble the trusses, that is, metal connector plates and/or nails, will not be shipped with the trusses.

The roof "fink" (W) truss, similar to other trusses, is unique in the combination of materials, design and configuration type, engineering, height, span, spacing and loading. The subject truss is comprised of the following components: top chords, bottom chords, and webs. The top chord, depending on its overall length, consists of one or more components precision cut to length and with at least one component end cut at precision simple or compound angle. The bottom chord, depending on the overall length, is made up of two or more components with most of the components having one or both ends precision cut to length and usually with at least one component end cut at precision simple or compound angle. The web components (each truss has several) are precision cut to length and have one or both ends cut at precision simple or compound angles. (All end cut angles are other than 90ΓΈ angles.)

Each of the above components is marked consistent with its unique configuration to ensure an accurate assembly of the truss. Moreover, no cutting is necessary at the time of assembly. The only process that remains to be done at the assembly plant or at the construction site is the assembly of the components using metal plates and/or nails.

Depending on the requirements of a purchaser and the number of trusses to be shipped, you are contemplating two methods of packing the unassembled trusses. In one option, all the components for a particular truss will be packaged together and identified. In the second option, all similar components (webs, top chords, bottom chords) will be bundled together and identified. This method will be used for large shipments to further reduce transportation costs. In both options, each shipment will contain all the necessary parts to assemble an exact number of the specific type of truss in question.

The classification of goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 states:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions: [GRI's 2 through 6].

In the instant case, the condition of the merchandise as imported makes it necessary to refer to subsequent GRI's. GRI 2 is applicable because the goods in question are incomplete and unassembled.

GRI 2.(a) states as follows:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), entered unassembled or disassembled.

All the truss components are fully fabricated in their imported condition and ready for assembly.

The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the EN's provide a commentary on the scope of each heading and the GRI's of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes that the EN's should always be consulted. (See T.D. 89-80.)

The EN's to GRI 2(a) state as follows:

(V) The second part of Rule 2(a) provides that complete or finished articles presented unassembled or disassembled are to be classified in the same heading as the assembled article. When goods are so presented, it is usually for reasons such as requirements or convenience of packing, handling or transport.

In the instant case, the trusses are presented unassembled to reduce transportation costs. Thus, the second part of GRI 2(a) is applicable. However, since the trusses are imported without hardware, i.e. metal plates and/or nails, they can be considered incomplete or unfinished. However, the EN's to GRI 2(a) state as follow:

(I) The first part of Rule 2(a) extends the scope of any heading which refers to a particular article to cover not only the complete article but also that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as presented, it has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

As previously noted, the trusses are presented without the metal plates or nails. Under GRI 2(a), the components of the subject wood trusses can be classified as complete or finished trusses if they have the essential character of complete or finished trusses.

The essential function of a truss is its ability to provide the frame, support, and shape to a roof or other part of a building. Although a truss requires metal plates or nails to be assembled, the wood components comprise the frame, support, and shape of the truss.

Furthermore, the EN's to Rule 2(a) tell us as follows:

(VI) This Rule also applies to incomplete or unfinished articles presented unassembled or disassembled provided that they are to be treated as complete or finished articles by virtue of the first part of this Rule.

Therefore, we conclude that the unassembled wood components have the essential character of complete trusses of heading 4418, HTSUS.

The applicable subheading for the subject wood trusses will be 4418.90.4020, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for builders' joinery and carpentry of wood, other: roof trusses. The general rate of duty will be 3.6 percent 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

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