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HQ 960133

March 7, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960133 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4414.00.0000

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
300 South Ferry Street
Terminal Island, California 90731

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-96-103069, filed October 8, 1996, concerning the classification of wood picture frame moldings; EN (b) to heading 4409; GRI 2(a); Complete article entered unassembled

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on a protest timely filed on October 8, 1996, against your decision in the classification and liquidation of an entry of wood picture frame moldings entered in 1996.


You classified the merchandise under subheading 4421.90.9840, HTSUSA, the provision for “Other articles of wood: Other: Other: Other, Other,” with a column two duty rate of 33-1/3 percent ad valorem.

The protestant claims that the goods should be classified in subheading 4409.20.4000, HTSUSA, the provision for “Woodcontinuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, molded, rounded or the like) along any of its edges or faces, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed: Nonconiferous: Wood moldings: Standard wood moldings,” with a column two duty rate of 5 percent ad valorem.

The merchandise at issue is described on the commercial invoice as wooden picture frame components packed in sets of 4 unassembled pieces, each size packed in individual closed cartons. Although there are four separate sizes - these being lengths of 35 inches, 22.5 inches, 16.9 inches, and 10.7 inches - each carton contains four pieces of the same length. The two ends of each piece are mitered. Once assembled after importation, each set of four pieces would form a square frame.


Whether the merchandise is classifiable under heading 4409, HTSUSA, as wood continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces; under heading 4421, HTSUSA, as other articles of wood; or under heading 4414, HTSUSA, as wooden frames for paintings, photographs, mirrors or similar objects.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. 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 HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

Among other goods, chapter 44, HTSUSA, covers wood and articles of wood. Heading 4409, HTSUSA, the claimed classification, covers wood which is continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces. In pertinent part, the EN to heading 4409 state:

This heading covers timber, particularly in the form of boards, planks, etc., which, after sawing or squaring, has been continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces either to facilitate subsequent assembly or to obtain the mouldings or beadings described in Item (4) below.Continuously shaped wood covers both products with a uniform cross-section throughout the length and products having a repetitive design in relief.

(4) Moulded wood (also known as mouldings or beadings), i.e., strips of wood shaped to various contours (obtained mechanically or by hand), such as are used for the manufacture of picture frames, decoration of walls, furniture, doors and other carpentry or joinery.

EN (b) to heading 4409 states that the heading excludes:

Wood which has been mortised or tenoned, dovetailed or similarly worked at the ends.

The imported merchandise essentially consists of wood pieces, the continuous shape of which has been broken by diagonal cuts at the ends. At one point in its manufacture, the wood may have constituted the “moulded wood” classifiable under heading 4409, since such wood is “used for the manufacture of picture frames.” We find, however, that in its imported condition, the wood has been worked at the ends to enhance its secure fastening to other similarly worked pieces. In light of these manufacturing processes, the wood is excluded from heading 4409, HTSUSA.

Heading 4421, HTSUSA, the liquidated classification, covers “Other articles of wood.” The EN to heading 4421 state, in pertinent part that “This heading covers all articles of wood manufactured by turning or by any other methodother than those specified or included in the preceding headings.

Heading 4414, HTSUSA, is a heading which precedes heading 4421, and which covers “Wooden frames for paintings, photographs, mirrors or similar objects.” In pertinent part, the EN to heading 4414 state that the heading covers wooden frames of all shapes and dimensions, whether cut in one pieceor built up from beadings or mouldings. Although the imported merchandise may not be classifiable as a wooden frame pursuant solely to GRI 1, that is, by the terms of the heading, it is composed of pieces which, when put up together, may constitute a complete but unassembled wooden frame. We therefore look to GRI 2(a), which states:

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.

EN (V) and (VII), to GRI 2(a), are particularly helpful in understanding the scope of GRI 2(a) as it applies to the imported merchandise. The EN contain the following guidance:

(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.

(VII) For the purposes of this Rule, “articles presented unassembled or disassembled” means articles the components of which are to be assembled either by means of fixing devices (screws, nuts, bolts, etc.) or by riveting or welding, for example, provided only assembly operations are involved.

No account is to be taken in that regard of the complexity of the assembly method. However, the components shall not be subjected to any further working operation for completion into the finished state.

Unassembled components of an article which are in excess of the number required for that article when complete are to be classified separately.

In this case, it appears that essentially complete frames have been presented unassembled for convenience of packing, handling or transport, and because each individual carton contains a set. Customs has no specific information as to any particular fixing devices or post-importation assembly operations to be used. It is clear, however, that only assembly operations (as opposed to any further working operations) would be required to assemble the wooden picture frame components into finished wooden frames, and that there are no components in excess of the number required. The components are thus classifiable as wooden frames under heading 4414, HTSUSA, a heading which precedes heading 4421 and more specifically provides for the imported merchandise.


The wooden picture frame components are classified in subheading 4414.00.0000, HTSUSA, the provision for “Wooden frames for paintings, photographs, mirrors or similar objects.” The column 2 duty rate is 33-1/3 percent ad valorem.

Since the rate of duty under the classification indicated above is the same as the liquidated rate, 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 are to 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 of the decision.

No later than 60 days from the date of this letter, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and by other methods of public distribution.


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