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HQ 964841

DECEMBER 14, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964841 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8204.20.00

Ms. Barbara Y. Wierbicki
Tompkins & Davidson, LLP
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036-8901

RE: NY 814887 Revoked; Power Socket sets

Dear Ms. Wierbicki:

In NY 814887, which the Director of Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, issued to Tower Group International, Inc., on September 28, 1995, on behalf of Ingersoll-Rand Co., certain power socket sets were held to be classifiable as other interchangeable tools for handtools, in subheading 8207.90.60, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

In a submission on behalf of Ingersoll-Rand Co., dated February 6, 2001, which included a sample socket set for use with hand-operated air wrenches, you advance facts and legal arguments in support both of the heading 8207 classification, and also an alternative classification.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed revocation of NY 814887 was published on November 7, 2001, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 35, Number 45. You submitted the only comment in response to that notice, opposing the proposed revocation. This ruling will address all relevant claims and supporting arguments made in your submissions of February 6 and December 5, 2001.


The merchandise at issue is impact sockets or power socket sets. The submitted sample contains eight (8) individual impact sockets in drive sizes 1/2, 3/4, 3/8, 5/8, 5/16, 7/16, 9/16 and 11/16 inch. They come packaged in a metal storage tray inside a cardboard box. The sockets are of specially heat-treated steel to withstand the torque of Ingersoll-Rand’s powerful line of air impact wrenches, hand-operated tools commonly used for tightening or removing lug nuts on automobile and truck wheels. Each socket has a contoured ridge at the base that permits the socket to fit loosely in the tool holder for increased impacting action. Each socket also has two equidistant holes drilled at the base. Pins on the toolholder fit into these holes to insure proper alignment of the socket.

The ruling request that resulted in NY 814887 recommended subheading 8207.90.60, HTSUS, as the appropriate classification, on the basis that the sockets were interchangeable tools for handtools, whether or not power-operated. You continue to maintain that classification is correct, but advance no arguments to support it. In your February 6, 2001, submission, however, you assert an alternative claim under a provision of heading 8467, HTSUS, parts of pneumatic tools for working in the hand. You note Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS, states that parts which are goods included in any heading of Chapter 84 or Chapter 85 are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings. Because heading 8467 includes both pneumatic tools for working in the hand and their parts, you conclude that the sockets at issue are “goods included” in heading 8467. Further, you contend that Customs ignored Section XV, Note 1(f), HTSUS, which excludes from Chapter 82 articles of Section XVI which includes heading 8467. You contend that heading 8204 does not apply as that heading is limited to sockets for use in manually operated tools, and these sockets are for use with pneumatically operated tools. You also note that these Section Notes do not mutually exclude each other but rather instruct that classification be in the chapter and provision that properly includes the sockets which, in your opinion, is heading 8467. Finally, you argue that heading 8207 provides a more specific description for the sockets than does heading 8204, as the former heading has requirements that are more difficult to satisfy.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Hand-operated spanners and wrenches; socket wrenches, with or without handles, drives or extensions; base metal parts thereof:

8204.20.00 Socket wrenches, with or without handles, drives and extensions, and parts thereof

Interchangeable tools for handtools, whether or not power operated, or for machine tools (for example, for pressing stamping, punching, tapping, threading, drilling, boring, broaching, milling, turning or screwdriving),; base metal parts thereof:

8207.90 Other interchangeable tools, and parts thereof

Not suitable for cutting metal, and parts thereof:

8207.90.60 For handtools, and parts thereof

Tools for working in the hand, pneumatic, hydraulic, or with self-contained nonelectric motor, and parts thereof:


8467.92.00 Of pneumatic tools


Whether the power sockets are socket wrenches of heading 8204, other interchangeable tools of heading 8207, or tools for working in the hand of heading 8467.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 3(a) states in part that where goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, the heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Initially, Section XV, Note 1(f), HTSUS, excludes articles of Section XVI (machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical goods). This note does not exclude parts of these articles. So, if your claim is as parts under heading 8467, the sockets would not be excluded from Chapter 82 if otherwise qualified. Notwithstanding this, and noting the competing exclusionary legal notes at issue, it is appropriate first to establish the classification of the good in question, then apply the applicable notes.

Considering the terms of headings 8204 and 8207, sockets are provided for in both headings, as each prima facie prima facie describes sockets. This requires the application of GRI 3, HTSUS. The subheading 8204.20 language in the ENs on p. 1200 in part reads “Interchangeable spanner sockets, with or without handles,” while the corresponding EN narrative includes the phrase “including drives and extensions.” The legal text of subheading 8204.20.00 in part reads “Socket wrenches, with or without handles, drives and extensions.” From this, it is apparent that in a tariff context sockets are to be regarded as a type of wrench. This conclusion is corroborated by information we independently obtained from the Hand Tool Institute, Terrytown, NY, indicating that in the trade a “socket” is in fact a wrench and the term “wrench” refers to the wrenching end of a tool. Also, of note is heading 8206, HTSUS, tools of two or more headings 8202 to 8205, put up in sets for retail sale. The corresponding ENs on p. 1203 state, among other things, that the heading includes sets of car mechanic’s tools including socket sets. While not controlling, this is certainly a further indication that sockets, like wrenches, are considered tools. In our opinion, the logical conclusion is that sockets are types of wrenches and such articles are provided for specifically in heading 8204 as socket wrenches. Under GRI 3(a), therefore, heading 8204 provides a more narrow and specific description for the sockets at issue than does heading 8207, other interchangeable tools.

Turning now to the Section Notes, Section XV, Note I(f), HTSUS, assuming it applies, excludes articles of Section XVI. But Section XVI, Note 1(k), HTSUS, excludes articles of Chapter 82. So, the sockets at issue, being articles of Chapter 82, cannot be classified in Section XVI. This eliminates heading 8467 from consideration.


Under the authority of GRI 3(a), HTSUS, the power socket sets at issue are provided for in heading 8204. They are classifiable in subheading 8204.20.00, HTSUS.


NY 814887, dated September 28, 1995, is revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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