United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2002 HQ Rulings > HQ 964372 - HQ 964557 > HQ 964510

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 964510

December 20, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 964510 RH


TARIFF NOS.: 4412.29.3570; 4418.90.4090

Area Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
4735 Oakland Street
Denver, CO 80239

RE: Application for Further Review of Protest Number 3307-99-100031; Wood Flooring; Heading 4412; Heading 4418

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on the Application for Further Review of Protest (AFR) number 3307-99-100031, filed by Gallagher Transport International, Inc., on behalf of Gamweger, Reto (d/b/a Edelweiss Wood Flooring). The protest is against Customs classification of wood flooring, stair risers and stair treads under heading 4412 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). The protestant asserts that the merchandise is correctly classified under heading 4418, HTSUSA, as builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood, specifically parquet panels.

Customs liquidated the entry covering the merchandise at issue on February 26, 1999, and the protestant timely filed the AFR on April 19, 1999. Review of the AFR is warranted under sections 174.24 and 174.25 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR §§174.24 and 174.25).


The merchandise in question is a laminated flooring product consisting of pieces measuring “5 m long x 0.25 m wide x 20 mm thick”, “4 m long x 0.25 m wide x 20 mm thick”, and “5 m long x 0.18 m wide x 20 mm thick (risers for stairs).” The entry also included stair treads measuring “500 cm x 30 cm.” Each tread has a solid oak nose piece attached to the front of the plywood with a spline and glue.

Each piece of laminated wood consists of a top layer of oak that is 4.5 mm thick, a center layer of spruce that is 9.5 mm thick and a bottom layer of spruce that is 6.0 mm thick. All the boards, except the risers and treads, are tongued and grooved on the sides but not on the ends. All the boards are pre-finished with a natural hard wax.


Is the merchandise at issue classifiable as plywood under heading 4412, HTSUSA, or as parquet panels under heading 4418, HTSUSA?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied.

Additionally, in interpreting the headings and subheadings, Customs looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN), which are not legally binding, but are recognized as the official interpreta- tion of the Harmonized System at the international level. It is Customs practice to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN when interpreting the HTSUSA.

Heading 4412, HTSUSA, provides for “Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood.” The EN to heading 4412, HTSUSA, state, in pertinent part:

This heading covers:

(1) Plywood consisting of three or more sheets of wood glued and pressed one on the other and generally disposed so that the grains of successive layers are at an angle; this gives the panels greater strength and, by compensating shrinkage, reduces warping. Each component sheet is known as a “ply” and plywood is usually formed of an odd number of plies, the middle ply being called the “core”.

The products of this heading remain classified herein whether or not they have been worked to form the shapes provided for in respect of the goods of heading 44.09, curved, corrugated, perforated, cut or formed to shapes other than square or rectangular and whether or not they have been
surface or edge worked, or coated or covered (e.g., with textile fabric, plastics, paint, paper or metal) or submitted to any other operation, provided these operations do not thereby give such products the essential character of articles of other headings.

This heading also covers plywood panels or veneered panels, used as a flooring panel, and sometimes referred to as “parquet flooring”. These panels have a thin veneer of wood affixed to the surface, so as to simulate a flooring panel made up of parquet strips.

Heading 4418, HTSUSA, provides for “Builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood, including cellular wood panels, assembled parquet panels, and shingles and shakes.” The EN to heading 4418, HTSUSA, state, in pertinent part:

This heading also covers parquet strips, etc., assembled into panels or tiles, with or without borders, including parquet panels or tiles consisting of parquet strips assembled on a support of one or more layers of wood. These panels or tiles may be tongued and grooved at the edges to facilitate assembly.

This heading does not cover:

Plywood panels or veneered panels, used as flooring panels, which have a thin veneer of wood affixed to the surface, so as to simulate a flooring panel made up of parquet strips (heading 44.12).

The Harmonized System Committee (“HSC”) amended the EN to heading 4412 and 4418 in November of 1997 by adding the above-italicized sections. See, Annex IJ/14 to Doc. 41.600 E (HSC/20/Nov. 97). Customs subsequently adopted the changes to the EN. See, Customs “Notice of Revocation and Modification of Ruling Letters and Treatment Relating to the Classification of Laminated Flooring”, dated May 30, 2001, Customs Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 22. In the notice, Customs concluded that flooring panels consisting of one or more strips of veneer on the surface are classifiable in heading 4412, HTSUSA. These veneered flooring panels are distinct from parquet panels of heading 4418, HTSUSA, which consist of individual parquet strips (lumber strips) joined together at the edges or ends to form the panel.

In its imported condition, the subject merchandise has a plywood construction, i.e., it consists of three wood plies with the grain of adjacent layers at an angle to each other. The top layer is a single veneer strip across the width of the face. Accordingly, it does not possess the characteristics of parquet panels under heading 4418, HTSUSA. Customs correctly classified the flooring and stair risers as plywood in heading 4412, HTSUSA. The plywood stair treads with the attached bull-nosed edge are classifiable under heading 4418, as builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood.


The protest should be DENIED in part and GRANTED in part. The tongued and grooved flooring and stair risers are classifiable under subheading 4412.29.3570, HTSUSA. The stair treads are classifiable under subheading 4418.90.4090, HTSUSA.

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 the decision.

Sixty days from the date of the decision, 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.ustreas.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribu-tion.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: