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HQ 965730

September 10, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965730 AML


TARIFF NO.: 8543.89.96

Mr. William K. Seliger
E.O. Industries, LLC
28 North Causeway Drive #1A
P.O. Box 654
Fort Pierce, FL 34954

RE: Reconsideration of NY H89316; Tariff Classification of Magnetometers from England

Dear Mr. Seliger:

This is in reference to your letter, dated April 25, 2002, to the National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (“NY”) H89316, dated April 8, 2002, regarding the classification of three articles: Aquapulse AQ1B underwater metal detector, Aquascan AX2000 Proton Magnetometer, and the Aquascan MC5 Proton Magnetometer under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter, together with attachments, was forwarded to this office for reply.


In your April 25, 2002, letter you state that the MC5 Proton Magnetometer was not mentioned in NY H89316 and request that it and the Aquascan AX2000 Proton Magnetometer be classified under heading 9015, HTSUS.

The articles under consideration were described in NY H89316 as follows:

The magnetometer is an electronic device that is towed behind a boat and provides various data related to the detection of various metals.

NY H89316 held that the article was classified under subheading 8543.89.96, HTSUS, which provides for other electrical machines and apparatus not specified or included elsewhere in Chapter 85, HTSUS.

According to the descriptive material provided, the article is used to locate metal objects in salvage, diving, and survey operations.


Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable under heading 8543, HTSUS, which provides for other electrical machines and apparatus, not specified or included elsewhere in Chapter 85, or under heading 9015, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, geophysical instruments and appliances excluding compasses?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states, in part, that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined 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 the remaining GRIs, applied sequentially. One cannot resort to classification according to GRI 4 unless the goods cannot be classified in accordance with GRIs 1 through 3.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8543 Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof: 8543.89 Other:
8543.89.96 Other.

9015 Surveying (including photogrammetrical surveying), hydrographic, oceanographic, hydrological, meteorological or geophysical instruments and appliances, excluding compasses; rangefinders; parts and accessories thereof: 9015.80 Other instruments and appliances
9015.80.80 Other

Note 1(m) to Section XVI provides that Section XVI does not cover articles of Chapter 90. Clearly then, if the merchandise meets the terms of heading 9015, HTSUS, classification in heading 8543, HTSUS, is precluded.

Heading 9015 covers, among other things, geophysical instruments. You argue that the instant merchandise meets that description because they are specifically designed to operate underwater. You cite encyclopedia and dictionary definitions that show that magnetometers can be considered geophysical instruments.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, published in the Federal Register August 23, 1989 (54 FR 35127, 35128).

The ENs to heading 9015, HTSUS, include magnetometers among the goods covered by that heading. Nevertheless, it seems apparent that not all magnetometers are included in heading 9015. For example, the ENs to heading 8543, HTSUS, include “mine detectors based on the change of magnetic flux produced in the apparatus when brought near to a metal object. Similar detectors are used, for example, for detecting foreign metallic bodies in casks of tobacco, food products timber, etc. and for locating buried pipes.”

The magnetometers at issue are more akin to the detectors described in heading 8543, HTSUS, i.e., those utilized to detect foreign metallic bodies on the ocean floor than those articles contemplated by heading 9015, HTSUS (i.e., those utilized to quantify topography, distance and gradients).

The goods of heading 9015 are used in large scale exploring and mapping of the earth. These devices use variations in the earth’s magnetic field to draw conclusions about the geological structure of the area being examined. By contrast, the goods under consideration are suitable for a variety of uses that are not necessarily geophysical but are more analogous to the locating of buried pipes described in the EN to 8543.

Thus it is apparent that this type of magnetometer is classified in heading 8543, HTSUS.

You cite Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HQ”) 964307 as a basis for classification in heading 9015. In that case, a system including a survey computer and workstation, sonar transducers, and transducer electronics modules for mapping the bottom of the sea and inland waterways was determined to be classified under subheading 9015.80.80, HTSUS. We find that HQ 964307 is distinguishable from the facts presented here. In that case we concluded that the system was a hydrographic instrument within the meaning of 9015. Accordingly, the conclusion in that case has no applicability here.


The magnetometers (the MC5 Proton Magnetometer and the Aquascan AX2000 Proton Magnetometer) are classified under subheading 8543.89.96, HTSUS, which provides for other electrical machines and apparatus not specified or included elsewhere in Chapter 85, HTSUS.


NY H89316 is AFFIRMED.


Myles Harmon

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