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HQ 963186

December 21, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963186 AML


TARIFF Nos.: 3916.20.00; 3926.90.98

Mr. Frank M. Murphy
National Technical Advisor
Norman G. Jensen, Inc.
P.O. Box 8008
3030 Commerce Drive
Port Huron, MI 48061-8008

RE: Material lengths of automotive exterior side molding.

Dear Mr. Murphy:

This is in reference to your letters of July 1, and August 4, 1999, to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division in New York, on behalf of Spartan Plastics Canada Ltd., requesting the classification of automotive exterior side moldings under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The request was forwarded to this office for reply. A display board with forty-eight samples and photocopies of sales catalogs were provided for our examination. We regret the delay in responding.


The articles under consideration are extruded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) automotive body side molding, door edge molding and wheel well molding sold in the “after market” at the retail level under the brand name Trimbrite, and to automotive body shops or professional installers under the brand name Prostripe. These products are exclusively used on automobiles. The moldings are “offered in finishes of embossed grain, laminates, and chrome or gold polyester film, and various colors, including OEM color keyed choices.” Each piece is backed with a two-sided, acrylic foam tape with a peelable liner that is removed to expose the adhesive at the time of application. You state that the moldings “provide both decorative enhancement and protection against paint chipping and parking lot dings.” The Trimbrite line is sold in kits to retailers and the Prostripe line is sold in material lengths and kits to body shops. No information was provided as to
whether the Trimbrite line is prefabricated to fit its various applications.

In your supplemental submission dated August 4, 1999, you state that:

The chrome surface treatment is applied with a guide and roller after the molding exits the extruder tip. In order to promote adhesion the Mylar chrome or metallic finish must be applied while the extrusion is still hot. Using another extruder and co-extrusion process a protective PVC topcoat is added . . . while the molding is still hot.

The embossed grain finish is added after the extrusion process while the molding is still hot by an embossing roller. In order to impart a shiny surface to certain moldings heat is applied to draw out the plasticisers.


Whether the automotive exterior side moldings are classifiable as articles of plastic in Chapter 39, HTSUS, or as parts of automobiles under heading 8708, HTSUS?


Classification under the HTSUS 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 GRIs may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRIs.

The HTSUS headings and subheadings under consideration are as follows:

3916 Monofilament of which any cross-sectional dimension exceeds 1 mm, rods, sticks and profile shapes, whether or not surface-worked but not otherwise worked, of plastics:

3916.20.00 Of polymers of vinyl chloride.

3926 Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: Other:
3926.30 Fittings for furniture, coachwork or the like: 3926.30.5000 Other:
3926.90 Other:
3926.90.98 Other:

8708 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705: Other parts and accessories of bodies (including cabs): 8708.29 Other:
8708.29.50 Other.

You assert that the automotive exterior side moldings, in accordance with certain section notes, are classifiable as parts of automobiles classifiable in heading 8708, HTSUS.

The moldings are made of extruded plastic and are designed for use on the exterior of automobiles. Those sold to retailers are packaged in blister or clamshell packs with sufficient material to “trim” one vehicle for do-it-yourself application. Those sold (wholesale, we assume) to repair shops and other automotive service centers are sold both in material lengths and in kits with sufficient material to “trim” one vehicle. We are unable to distinguish the lengths of extruded plastic molding sold in retail stores from the material lengths of extruded plastic used in automobile body shops, etc. When the extruded moldings are presented in material lengths that must be further worked prior to installation, there is no recognizable article and the extruded plastic is precluded from classification as a part, even though the material may be dedicated for making the individual articles. Avins Industrial Products Co. v. United States, 515 F.2d 782 (CCPA 1975). In HQ 955346, dated February 9, 1994, which concerned the classification of coils of stainless steel curved wire designed for the manufacture of piston rings for automobile engines, we stated that:

[u]nder a longstanding Customs principle, goods which are material when entered are not classifiable as a particular article unfinished. See Sandvik Steel, Inc. v. U.S., 321 F.Supp. 1031, 66 Cust. Ct. 12, C.D. 4161 (1971) (shoe die knife steel in coils and cutting rules in lengths, without demarcations for cutting or bending, held to be material rather than unfinished knives or cutting blades); The Harding Co. v. U.S., 23 Cust. Ct. 250 (1936) (rolls of brake lining held to be material because the identity of the brake lining was not fixed with certainty); Naftone, Inc. v. U.S., 67 Cust. Ct. 340, C.D. 4294 (1971) (rolls of plastic film without demarcations for cutting despite having only one use held to be insulating material). See also HQ 952938, dated August 4, 1993, and HQ 084610, dated May 17, 1990.

Therefore, at GRI 1, the instant extruded plastic moldings are considered to be imported in material lengths and are classifiable in Chapter 39, HTSUS.

Heading 3916 provides for profile shapes, whether or not surface worked (but not otherwise worked), of plastics. The ENs to heading 3916 provide that the heading includes “such products which have been merely cut to a length exceeding the
maximum cross-sectional dimension or surface-worked (polished, matt-finished, etc.), but not otherwise worked.” The embossed grain finish of some of the molding styles, we find, is simply “surface working” as contemplated by the EN to Chapter 39.

In Winter-Wolff Inc., v. United States, 996 F. Supp. 1258 (CIT 1998) (32 Cust. Bul. 12 at 71), the Court interpreted the term "further worked" as it appears in subheading 7607.11.30, HTSUS. After determining that the common meaning of the term was applicable (Id. at 74-75, on the basis of the presumption that the commercial meaning of a term is the same as its common meaning unless the party who argues that the meanings are different proves that "there is a different commercial meaning in existence which is definite, uniform, and general throughout the trade"), the Court reviewed the dictionary meaning of the words. The Court concluded:

When cobbled together, this dictionary meaning amounts to the following: to form, fashion, or shape an existing product to a greater extent." [Ibid. at 79.]

Customs has previously determined that lamination of a textured surface, added to the profile shape subsequent to extrusion, constitutes “further working” for purposes of Chapter 39. See HQ 082710, dated February 23, 1990, and HQ 957357, dated October 24, 1995. We find that the process of manufacture and finishing of the articles coated with a Mylar layer is indistinguishable from those addressed in HQs 082710 and 957357. The chrome surface treatment, the Mylar chrome or metallic finish and the PVC topcoat are performed in a separate process in addition to the extrusion process. In HQs 082710 and 957357, the laminate was affixed to the moldings in a distinct manner and separate process. Because of this similarity, we find that the extruded moldings that are Mylar or otherwise finished following extrusion are further worked (see above).

The material lengths of extruded plastic that are merely surface worked (to bear a finish, pattern or design) are classifiable under heading 3916. Those lengths that are further worked are classifiable under heading 3926, as other articles of plastic, other.


The automotive exterior side moldings are classifiable as follows:

Those automotive exterior side moldings imported in material lengths of extruded plastic that are merely surface worked (to bear a finish, pattern or design) are classifiable under subheading 3916.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for monofilament of which any cross-sectional dimension exceeds 1 mm, rods, sticks and profile shapes, whether or not surface-worked but not otherwise worked, of plastics: of polymers of vinyl chloride.

Those articles that are further worked are classifiable under subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUS, as other articles of plastic, other.


John Durant, Director

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