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HQ 964700

March 20, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964700 KBR


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.98

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
Building #77
Jamaica, NY 11430

RE: Protest 1001-00-103138; FlexLink Systems; Plastic conveyor components

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 1001-00-103138, filed on behalf of FlexLink Systems, Inc., concerning the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of links for a plastic roller top chain. Entries were liquidated from April 21, 2000, through May 26, 2000. This protest was timely filed on July 18, 2000.


The protest concerns the classification of individual plastic links for a roller top conveyor chain. A sample of an individual link was provided for our examination. It is molded completely of plastic. The links are intended to be joined together to form a chain. The flat base of the links are specially designed to convey articles along the chain. Each side of the flat segment of an individual link has specifically shaped teeth that interconnect with the adjoining segments. The bottom has an elliptical base molded to a pin assembly unit so that the segments can be linked with pins. After importation, all of the conveyor components, including the chain links, are assembled into a conveyor system designed to transport an object from one point to another. The chain links are designed to be combined and configured in a variety of ways to meet the specific requirements of a purchaser. The links may be combined with vertical cleats to hold goods being conveyed, and may be configured with divert and/or merge devices to move articles onto or off the conveyor chain.


What is the classification of the links for a plastic roller chain?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the HTSUS is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, 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.

In interpreting the headings and subheadings, Customs looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN). Although not legally binding, they provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. It is Customs practice to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the ENs when interpreting the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

3923 Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics:

3923.90 Other:

3923.90.00 Other

Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914:


Belting and belts, for machinery:

3926.90.60 Other

3926.90.98 Other

The importer argues that the links should be classified in heading 3923, HTSUS. The importer believes the phrase “for the conveyance or packing of goods” includes the links for a conveyor belt. However, the ENs for 39.23 and the previous Customs decisions concerning this heading clearly show that heading 3923, HTSUS, was intended for articles which act in a manner similar to a container, spool or lid. This heading was not intended for articles which simply move, but not contain, an item. EN 39.23 details the type of articles intended to be included in this heading, which are not conveyor belts. These articles include:

Containers such as boxes, cases, crates, sacks and bags (including cones and refuse sacks), casks cans, carboys, bottles and flasks.

The heading also covers:

Cups without handles having the character of containers used for the packing or conveyance of certain foodstuffs, whether or not they have a secondary use as tableware or toilet articles;

Bottle preforms of plastics being intermediate products having tubular shape, with one closed end and one open end threaded to secure a screw type closure, the portion below the threaded end being intended to be expanded to a desired size and shape.

Spools, cops, bobbins and similar supports, including video or audio cassettes without magnetic tape.

Stoppers, lids, caps and other closures.

The importer cites 32 Cus. Bull. 36 (September 9, 1998)(HQ 961970 (August 20, 1998)) and HQ 960373 (February 8, 1999), to support their belief that the links should be classified in heading 3923, HTSUS. However, both cases clearly involve a type of “container” for transport and shipping purposes, a compact disk case in the former and a refillable beverage bottle in the latter. This is consistent with Customs decisions placing articles in heading 3923, HTSUS. See, e.g., HQ 959874 (February 25, 1997); HQ 961092 (March 24, 1998); HQ 082992 (September 9, 1989). In HQ 089825 (April 9, 1993), Customs stated that “[t]hese exemplars indicate that heading 3923 is generally reserved for articles used for shipping purposes.” The links, when in a complete chain, are not a container or used for shipping purposes. The chain is a means of moving items from one part of a facility to another. Therefore, the links are not classifiable in heading 3923, HTSUS.

The importer argues that, alternatively, the links may be classified in subheading 3926.90.60, HTSUS. The ENs for 39.26 at (7) include in this heading “Transmission, conveyor or elevator belts, endless, or cut to length and joined end to end, or fitted with fasteners.”

GRI 2(a) states that:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), entered unassembled or disassembled.

However, in this situation the links are imported separately. They are not imported in a joined loop or imported as a complete set designated for a specific machine. The unassembled links are only one component of a conveyor belt system. Therefore, GRI 2(a) does not apply. Further, subheading 3926.90.60, HTSUS, does not include a provision for parts. Customs has stated

“that an eo nomine provision which does not specifically provide for parts does not include parts. Thus, a “part” is not classifiable in a provision for an article (of which the part is a part of) which does not include a parts provision. However, a “part” may be classified in a “basket” provision which does not include a parts provision.” [Citing Sturm Customs Law and Administration; and Hudson Merchandise Co. v. United States, 58 Cust. Ct. 341, C.D. 2980 (1967).]

HQ 964211 (January 4, 2001). See also, HQ 960248 (May 8, 1998), concerning sprockets as a part of a conveyor chain falling within a provision which includes a parts provision.

Therefore, since there is no parts provision in subheading 3926.90.60, HTSUS, the links may not be classified in that subheading. Therefore, the plastic link chain segments are classifiable in subheading 3926.90.98, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of plastics, other.


In accordance with the above discussion, the conveyor chain links are classified in subheading 3926.90.98, HTSUS as articles of plastic, other.

The protest should be DENIED. 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.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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