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HQ 963814

May 9, 2000
CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963814 jb


TARIFF NO.: 4407.10.0020

Mr. John Sveum
Tower Group International
P.O. Box 1738
Blaine, WA 98231-1738

RE: Classification of notched studs; heading 4407

Dear Mr. Sveum:

This is in response to your letters (dated October 19, 1999, and February 3, 2000) addressed to our New York Office, on behalf of your client, Buchanan Lumber, regarding the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), for certain studs with three dado cuts along the edge. Sketches of the merchandise were submitted to this office for review.


The subject merchandise consists of 2 X 4 spruce studs which are stated to be manufactured to end user specifications for use in the walls of mobile homes. The studs may be of two lengths, 81-3/4 inches or 87-3/4 inches. Each stud will have three dado cuts or notches along the edge. The submitted sketches show that both lengths have a one inch wide by 13/16 inch deep notch 5-1/2 inches from the bottom end. Both lengths have two 1-7/8 to 2 inch wide x 13/16 inch deep notches located 21 inches and 77-1/2 inches from the bottom end. The wider notches are stated to be for the purpose of being fit with 1 inch by 2 inches horizontal “belt rails” which strengthen the wall and make the wall flush for easier installation of siding. The narrower notch is stated to be for the purpose of running service cables through the wall.


What is the proper classification for the subject merchandise?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's taken in order.

Chapter 44, HTSUS, provides for, among other things, wood and articles of wood. This chapter is structured so that less processed wood appears at the beginning of the chapter followed by more advanced wood in later headings within the same chapter. Thus, for example, heading 4403, HTSUS, is a general provision for wood in the rough, whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood or roughly squared, and heading 4421, HTSUS, is a basket provision for more advanced articles of wood that cannot be classified elsewhere in the chapter.

As heading 4407 resides at the beginning of Chapter 44, HTSUS, it reflects coverage of a relatively basic category of lumber products in relation to heading 4418, which, residing closer to the end of Chapter 44, HTSUS, reflects coverage of a relatively more advanced category of products. Heading 4407, HTSUS, provides for wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6mm. Customs believes that, while not dispositive, the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) should always be consulted when resolving a particular classification question. In this regard, the EN to heading 4407, HTSUS, state in relevant part:

The products of this heading may be planed (whether or not the angle formed by two adjacent sides is slightly rounded during the planing process), sanded, or end-jointed, e.g. finger-jointed (see the General Explanatory Note to this Chapter).

Heading 4418, provides for, among other things, builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood. The EN to heading 4418, HTSUS, state in pertinent part:

This heading applies to woodwork, including that of wood marquetry or inlaid wood, used in the construction of any kind of building, etc., in the form of assembled goods or as recognizable unassembled pieces (e.g., prepared with tenons, mortises, dovetails or other similar joints for assembly), whether or not with their metal fittings such as hinges, locks, etc.

The term "joinery" applies more particularly to builders' fittings (such as doors, windows, shutters, stairs, door or window frames), whereas the term "carpentry" refers to woodwork (such as beams, rafters and roof struts) used for structural purposes or in scaffoldings, arch supports, etc., and includes assembled shuttering for concrete constructional work. ...

The subject merchandise, by its appearance, is substantially similar to the notched lumber which was the subject of a final revocation notice, published in the Customs Bulletin Vol. 33, No. 22/23, dated June 9, 1999. The notched studs which were at issue in the Customs Bulletin notice consisted of 2 X 6 or 2 X 4 studs with dado cuts or notches across one edge. The notches were approximately ¾ inch deep and 1-1/2 inches, 1-5/8 and 1-3/4 inches wide. The notches were stated to allow for the installation of various cables and pipes in a wall. Similarly, although two of the notches featured on the subject merchandise are stated to be designed for a different purpose (i.e., to join the two studs together), they are not readily distinguishable from the cable and pipe notches which were the subject of the Customs Bulletin notice. Furthermore, where the subject merchandise is concerned, this office cannot distinguish the two notches stated to be for purposes of “joining” the studs together from the third notch stated to be designed for the purpose of installing cables.

As we stated in the Customs Bulletin notice cited above, it is the agency’s position that the notching of these studs does not cause this merchandise to be considered as one of the relatively advanced articles provided for under heading 4418, HTSUS, that is, “builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood.” This merchandise is neither in the form of an assembled good nor exhibits some feature (e.g., prepared with tenons, mortises, dovetails or other similar joints for assembly) which qualifies it as a recognizable unassembled piece. Accordingly, the subject notched studs containing three dado cuts along the end, are not considered to serve a structural purpose within the meaning of the EN to heading 4418, HTSUS, as properly understood, and are therefore classified in heading 4407, HTSUS.


The subject notched studs are properly classifiable in subheading 4407.10.0020, HTSUS, which provides for wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6mm: coniferous: other: not treated: other: other spruce: other. The applicable general column one rate of duty is “Free”.

Articles classifiable under subheading 4407.10.0020,HTSUSA, which are products of Canada are subject to entry requirements based on the U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996. All invoices of such articles must be annotated with the Canadian province of manufacture. If manufactured in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia or Alberta, a permit is required.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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