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NY E89538

November 19, 1999

CLA-2-39:RR:NC:SP:221 E89538


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.9880

Ms. Margaret R. Polito
Neville, Peterson & Williams
80 Broad Street, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10004

RE: The tariff classification of needle counters from China.

Dear Ms. Polito:

In your letter dated November 4, 1999, on behalf of Medical Action Industries, Inc., you requested a tariff classification ruling.

Three samples were provided with your letter. All the samples consist of a rectangular plastic box in which discarded needles can be placed. Inside the box there is either a foamed plastic pad or a magnetic strip. The pad or strip has a numbered grid so that needles discarded during surgery can be accounted for. One of the cases contains both the foamed plastic pad and the magnetic strip.

You suggest classification in heading 9018, HTS, which provides for instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental and veterinary sciencesand parts and accessories thereof. You cite three principal precedents.

You cite NYRL 87387. We assume you mean NYRL 873837, May 27, 1992. However, the sheaths of that ruling, presumably non-rigid, were used directly over the main device, the insemination gun, to permit reuse of the gun without sterilization. The sheath enhances the use of a specific instrument and is an accessory for it.

You cite NYRL 867880, November 12, 1991. However, the safety blood needle holders of that ruling were attached to the needles when in use by the health care professional. Note that the rigid plastic puncture resistant containers of that ruling were not classified in heading 9018, but in heading 3926. Finally, you cite HRL 561283, August 26, 1999, concerning the classification of a carrying case for a diabetes monitoring system in HTS 9817.00.96. However, 9817.00.96 has the uniquely broad statutory language, “specially designed or adapted for the use or benefit of...” This unique language has been interpreted very broadly by the CIT and the CAFC and distinguished from other uses of “parts and accessories.” See CIT Slip-op 97-6, January 13, 1997. We thus consider NYRL 561283 of no real precedential value here.

In your samples, in addition to the plastic boxes, there is a layer of foam to serve as a pin cushion or a magnetic strip to hold the metal “sharps” more firmly and a slip of paper with numbers in boxes to help the surgical assistant in counting the objects given to him/her for disposal. However, the primary purpose of the item is not to further the interests of the patient, per se, but to reduce the risk of “sticks” to the health care personnel in the hospital. We note that the box, which is, by far, the largest and most expensive element in the samples, is a very common type of plastic box, not identifiable, per se, as having anything to do with the professional practice of medicine.

The applicable subheading for the needle counters will be 3926.90.9880, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for other articles of plastics, other. The rate of duty will be 5.3 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 Joan Mazzola at 212-637-7034.


Robert B. Swierupski

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