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HQ 963325

September 15, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963325 AML


TARIFF NO.: 8538.90.60

Mr. Robert Resetar
Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
980 Hammond Drive
Suite 1000
Atlanta, GA 30328

RE: Automotive switch caps.

Dear Mr. Resetar:

This is in reference to your letter of November 3, 1999, to the Customs National Commodity Specialists Division in New York, requesting classification of an automotive steering column switch cap and a rear window heater switch cap under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The request was forwarded to this office for reply. A sample of the steering column switch cap and schematic drawings were provided for our examination. We regret the delay in responding.


The articles at issue, an automotive steering column switch cap (part # 996 613 508 00 A01) and a rear window heater switch cap (part # 901 552 837 00), are plastic caps with symbols molded into their surfaces. Their purpose is to indicate to the driver of the vehicle the function of the switch to which they are attached. The steering column cap switch is a cap specifically for the windshield wiper/washer lever of the steering column switch.


Whether the automotive steering column switch caps and the rear window heater switch caps are classifiable as plastic parts of general use under heading 3926, HTSUS, as parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of heading 8535, 8536 or 8537 under heading 8538, 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.

You assert that the switch caps, in accordance with certain section notes, are classifiable either as parts of general use (section XVII, note 2(b)) or as parts for use with switches classifiable in heading 8708, HTSUS.

The switch caps are made of plastic and are designed solely for use in electrical systems of automobiles. As such, their classification depends on the classification of the switches they cover. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 963621, dated August 31, 2000, Customs, in revoking New York Ruling Letter (NY) E80652, determined that steering column switches were classifiable in heading 8536, HTSUS. Legal Note 2 to Section XVII excludes from section XVII electrical machinery and equipment, thus excluding switches of heading 8536, HTSUS. Further, Section XVI note 1(g) and Section XVII note 2(b) exclude parts of general use, as defined in Section XV Note 2, of base metal, or similar goods of plastics, from classification in those sections. As a result, the instant switch caps, designed to be used with goods of heading 8536, are classifiable according to Section XVI (in which Chapter 85 is found), note 2(a), HTSUS, which states that:

(a) Parts which are goods included in any of the headings of chapters 84 and 85 (other than headings 8485 and 8548) are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings[.]

The evidence provided is that the switch caps are designed and manufactured solely for use as covers for electrical switches. While there is evidence that the switch caps are interchangeable among various models of automobile produced by the same manufacturer, the fact remains that the sole use of the articles is as parts of the electrical switches and they are specifically provided for pursuant to note 2(a) to Section XVI. The articles are not parts of general use and are not classifiable pursuant to note 2(b) to Section XVII as you allege. See General EN III to Section XVII.

You further allege that the articles in question are parts that are suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine: electrical switches for the steering column or rear window heater in automobiles. The automotive steering column switch and rear window heater switch (the caps of which are subject of your inquiry) are clearly classifiable in Chapter 85, which provides for, inter alia, electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof. You assert classification based on NY E80652, supra, which has been revoked by HQ 963621. Both switches complete electrical circuits and cause an electrical mechanism or element to function or perform. Therefore, given our change of position and in accordance with the section notes cited above, we must determine whether the articles are classifiable as parts of electrical switches of heading 8538, HTSUS.

The ENs to heading 8538, HTSUS, provide, in pertinent part, as follows:

Subject to the general provisions regarding the classification of parts (see the General Explanatory Note to Section XVI), this heading covers parts of the goods of the three preceding headings.

The heading includes, for example, boards for switchboards, generally of plastics or metal, without their instruments, provided they are clearly recognisable as parts of switchboards.

As the subject articles are the caps that will be secured upon their respective switches to identify and protect them, they are parts of the electrical switches (that are articles classifiable in heading 8536, HTSUS). “Where a particular part of an article is provided for specifically, a part of that particular part is more specifically provided for as part of the part than as part of the whole.” Sturm, Ruth; Customs Law & Administration, 3rd Edition, section 54.9, p. 57 (citing C.F. Liebert v. United States, 60 Cust. Ct. 677, C.D. 3499, 287 F. Supp. 1008 (1968); Foster Wheeler Corp. v. United States, 61 Cust. Ct. 166, C.D. 3556, 290 F. Supp. 375 (1968); and Korody-Colyer Corp. v. United States, 66 Cust. Ct. 337, C.D. 4212 (1971)). Therefore, pursuant to the above-cited section notes and GRI 1, the switch caps are classifiable in heading 8538, HTSUS.


The switch caps are classifiable under subheading 8538.90.60, HTSUS, which provides for parts suitable for use principally with the apparatus of heading 8535, 8536 or 8537: other: other: molded parts.


John Durant, Director

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