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HQ 965341

May 22, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 965341 RH


TARIFF NO.: 4407.10.0015

Port Director
U.S. Customs
477 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226

RE: Protest number 3801-01-1000710; heading 4407; heading 4415

Dear Sir:

This is in reply to your memorandum dated November 30, 2001, forwarding Application for Further Review of Protest (AFR) number 3801-01-1000710 to our office for review. We note that this is a lead protest.


On October 15, 1999, the protestant entered spruce, pine, fir (SPF) mixed lumber from Canada under subheading 4415.10.9000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as “wood ladder frame kits.”

Each “kit” consists of seven unassembled 1 x 3 wood boards, two “length sticks” and five “cross sticks.” Depending on the particular model, the length sticks are 76”, 81” or 85” long and the cross sticks are 16” long. Following importation, the seven pieces are nailed together so as to form a ladder-like article used in the packaging of innerspring assemblies for shipment. Literature states that two, three, or four “ladders” are strapped to each side of the innerspring to accomplish this “crating” operation. The protestant claims that the importations consisted of the exact number and combination of precision-cut pieces required to assemble a given number of “ladders.”

The entry liquidated automatically, as entered, on September 29, 2000, under subheading 4415.10.9000, HTSUS. After receiving information from the protestant on a separate entry of the same merchandise, Customs reliquidated the instant entry on December 22, 2000, under subheading 4407.10.0015, HTSUS, as general sawn lumber.

Customs issued a Notice of Action on Customs Form 29 to the protestant on November 16, 2000, advising the protestant of a change in classification. The Explanation on the notice reads:

The imported merchandise is classifiable HTS CA4407.10/free; See New York Ruling B83858. Softwood lumber first manufactured into a product classifiable in subheadings 4407.10.00, 4409.10.20, or 4409.10.90 of the HTSUS in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, or Alberta requires that the Government of Canada issues a permit and collect appropriate fees. Failure to provide this information has resulted in the assessment of liquidated damages of $100 per thousand board feet per 19 CFR 113.62(I)(5).

Deringer Logistics Consulting Group timely filed the AFR on behalf of Bois JLP, Inc., on January 26, 2001. We find that further review is warranted pursuant to 19 CFR §§174.24 and 174.25.

At the time of importation of the subject merchandise, articles classifiable under subheading 4407.10.00, HTSUS, which are products of Canada, were subject to entry requirements based on the U.S.-Canadian Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996. All invoices of such articles must be annotated with the Canadian province of manufacture. If manufactured in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia or Alberta, a permit is required.


Is the merchandise in question classifiable under heading 4407, HTSUS, as general sawn lumber, or under heading 4415, HTSUS, as a crate?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's taken in order.

Additionally, the Explanatory Notes (EN’s) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. The EN’s are not legally binding. However, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN’s when interpreting the HTSUS.

Heading 4407 provides for “Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6 mm.”

Heading 4415 provides for “Packing cases, boxes, crates, drums and similar packings, of wood; cable-drums, of wood; pallets, box-pallets and other load boards, of wood; pallet collars of wood.” The protestant argues that the merchandise is classifiable in this heading as an unassembled packing crate. It claims that:

The ladder crate kits are cut according to detailed specifications and shipped in the appropriate numbers to assemble a specific number of ladder crates. The ends are painted – color coded to correspond to different size crates for various size box spring assemblies, (i.e., king size). There are detailed assembly and use instructions for attaching the ladder crates to the assemblies. They are not just a ‘bunch of loose boards’, but an unassembled packing crate at the time of importation into the United States.

GRI 2(a) reads:

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 be taken to include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), presented unassembled or disassembled.

The term “essential character” is not defined in the HTSUS. However, the EN’s provide guidance on the meaning of the term under GRI 3(b), stating, in part that:

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. See, EN’s to GRI 3(b), VIII.

The EN to heading 4415 reads in relevant part:

This part of the heading [covering packing cases, boxes, crates, drums and similar packings] includes:

(1) Packing cases and boxes with solid sides, lids and bottoms, used for general packing and transport purposes.

(2) Crates, fruit or vegetable boxes, egg trays and other containers with slatted sides and open tops (including those of a kind used for the transport of glassware, ceramic products, machinery, etc.).

(3) Boxes made of sliced or peeled wood (but not those of plaited wood) of the kind used for packing cheese, pharmaceutical products, etc.; match-boxes (including those with a striking surface) and conical open containers for marketing butter, fruit, etc.

(4) Drums and barrel-shaped containers, not of the kind made by coopers, such as are used for the transport of dry colours, chemicals, etc.

These containers may be presented without a lid (“open” containers such as cases, crates, etc.). They may be unassembled or partly assembled, provided the wood is in sets of the parts necessary to make a complete container or an incomplete container having the essential character of a complete container. Where the wood is not in such sets, it is to be classified as sawn or planed wood, plywood, etc., as the case may be.

The packing cases, etc., of this heading may be simply nailed or dovetailed or otherwise jointed. They may be fitted with hinges, handles, fasteners, feet or corner pieces, or lined with metal, paper, etc.

Used boxes, crates, etc., capable of further use as such, remain classified in this heading, but those not usable except as fuel are excluded (heading 44.01).

The three rulings cited by counsel to support its claim that the imported merchandise is an unassembled packing crate are not persuasive, as the merchandise in those rulings is not similar to the instant merchandise. In NY D86183, dated September 24, 1999, the merchandise consisted of imported wooden pieces to be assembled into crates used for packing lettuce or other fresh produce.

In NY C89984, dated December 16, 1999, and D83315, dated July 16, 1999, Customs classified unassembled pallets consisting of stringers and deckboards under heading 4415, HTSUS. We note, however, that in NY C89984, Customs classified pieces of wood referred to as crossbars and uprights under heading 4407, as general sawn lumber. That merchandise was similar to the merchandise in question.

As stated in Customs Notice of Action, the merchandise in question is also akin to the lumber in NY B83858, dated April 25, 1997, described as “packing crates” for box springs. In that ruling “vertical” and “cross” pieces of lumber was placed around 20 box springs and wrapped with wire to form a “crate.” Customs held that, at the time of entry, the merchandise was merely a collection of loose boards arranged and tied onto a group of box springs to help protec`t and compress them.

Accordingly, we find that the merchandise was correctly liquidated as general sawn lumber under subheading 4407.10.0015, HTSUS.


The protest should be DENIED. The merchandise at issue is classifiable under subheading 4407.10.0015, as general sawn lumber.

In accordance with Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, section 3 A. (11) (b), you are to mail this decision and the Protest (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 this decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.

The Office of Regulations & Rulings will make this decision available to Customs personnel and to the public on the Customs Service Home Page on the World Wide Web, www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act and by other methods of public distribution sixty days from the date of this decision.


John Durant, Director

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