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HQ 964942

August 6, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964942 GOB


TARIFF NO.: 3926.40.00

Orlando Rodriguez
Assistant Manager
Almacenes Pitusa, Inc.
P.O. Box 839
Hato Rey Station
San Juan, PR 00919-0839

RE: Table-Top Fountains

Dear Mr. Pauley:

This is in reply to your letter of December 8, 2000, to the U.S. Customs Service, San Juan, Puerto Rico, with respect to the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”), of four table-top fountains.


At issue are four fountains described as follows – Water Fountain Rock (item #P8461-464D); Water Fountain Frog (item #P8461-276); Water Fountain Angel (item #P8461-455); and Water Fountain Angel (item #O8461-549). The fountains are described as table-top fountains which contain “a small electrical water pump which pumps the water to the top of the fountain to cause a water fountain effect.” The fountains consist of polyresin plastic.


What is the tariff classification of the fountains?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRI’s”). 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’s may then be applied.

GRI 3 provides as follows:

When, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“EN’s”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the EN’s provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

3926 Other articles of plastics ...

3926.40.00 Statuettes and other ornamental articles

8413 Pumps for liquids, whether or not fitted with a measuring device ...

8413.70 Other centrifugal pumps:

8413.70.20 Other.

We are unable to resolve the classification of the fountains at GRI 1 because it is a composite good classifiable under two or more headings, i.e., heading 3926 (the plastic) and heading 8413 (the pump). GRI 2 is not applicable here except insofar as it provides that “[t]he classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3."

GRI 3(a) is pertinent to the classification of the fountains as they are composite goods within the scope of GRI 3(a) and EN (IX) to GRI 3(b).

EN (IX) to GRI 3(b) provides:

For purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts. [Emphasis in original.]

EN (VIII) to GRI 3(b) provides:

The factor which determines the essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

We are not able to classify the subject table-top fountains at GRI 3(a) because headings 3926 and 8413 are regarded as equally specific in relation to the good. Pursuant to GRI 3(b), we find that the essential character of the fountains is imparted by the plastic. Essential character has frequently been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is. After a careful consideration of this issue, we determine that the fountains are essentially plastic decorative articles. Accordingly, based upon our determination that the essential character of the fountains is as an article of plastic, we find that it is provided for in heading 3926, HTSUS, and is classified in subheading 3926.40.00, HTSUS, as: “Other articles of plastics ... : ... Statuettes and other ornamental articles.”

Our determination is consistent with the following rulings on similar articles where Customs has consistently classified articles of this type based upon the constituent material.

In NY F83276, dated March 15, 2000, Customs held the model CP-1 calming pond to be classified in subheading 3926.40.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”), as: “Other articles of plastics ... : ... Statuettes and other ornamental articles.” This classification was affirmed in HQ 964361 of this date.

In HQ 958866 dated April 16, 1996, Customs found a copper tabletop water garden to be classified in subheading 8306.29.00, HTSUS, as: “... statuettes and other ornaments, of base metal ...” The article there was described as follows: “... a four leaf shaped copper fountain unit connected through copper ‘stems’ to a plastic water reservoir and pump powered by an electric cord and 3-pronged plug, a copper planter and a decorative rock package. The literature included with the sample describes the article as an ‘indoor fountain’.” In HQ 958866, we stated:

Customs is of the opinion that the tabletop garden is a base metal decorative article. It has no utility value but is wholly ornamental. Its only usefulness is to contain or support other decorative articles, specifically a fountain and silk flowers.

This finding is consistent with New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 815143 dated October 16, 1995, in which Customs determined that an indoor wooden planter and fountain was classifiable under subheading 4421.90.98, HTSUS, as an other article of wood.

In HQ 956353 dated May 26, 1994, Customs found a “village animated skating pond” to be classified in subheading 3926.40.00, HTSUS, as: “Other articles of plastics ... : ... Statuettes and other ornamental articles.” The good therein consisted of a large plastic base which gave the appearance of a skating pond, a synchronous motor and cord located in the base, and six plastic figures. In classifying the good pursuant to GRI 3(b), we stated:

In our opinion the plastic skating pond, as compared to the motor and other plastic components, distinguishes the article. Although the motor allows the figures to move around the pond, it is the skating pond which essentially provides the article’s ornamental and decorative appeal in addition to constituting the greatest bulk and weight. A consumer is likely to purchase the article for the specific scene it depicts. Furthermore, it is apparent that even when the motor is turned off, the skating pond will continue to be displayed in one’s home for ornamental purposes. The motor primarily serves to embellish the overall ornamental effect of the Village Animated Skating Pond.

In NY E84043 dated July 27, 1999, Customs classified a decorative calming pool in subheading 3926.40.00, HTSUS, as: “Other articles of plastics ... : ... Statuettes and other ornamental articles.” The good therein consisted of a submersible pump, a resin plate containing slate rocks and stones, natural looking driftwood with a painted orchid, and a wrought iron stand.

In NY D85475 dated January 22, 1999, Customs classified an “angelic musical water fountain” in subheading 6810.99.00, HTSUS, as: “Articles of ... artificial stone ...” The good therein was a decorative, three-dimensional agglomerated stone water fountain figurine with a self-contained, battery-operated pump and sound chip.

In A89712 dated December 19, 1996, Customs classified a plastic house waterfall in subheading 3926.40.00, HTSUS, as: “Other articles of plastics ... : ... Statuettes and other ornamental articles.” The article consisted of a plastic house with trees, flowers, and waterfall (all of plastic), a rock wall setting, a plastic water reservoir, and an electric-powered pump.


The subject table-top fountains are classified in subheading 3926.40.00, HTSUS, as: “Other articles of plastics ... : ... Statuettes and other ornamental articles.”


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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