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 965775 - HQ COPYOF96 > HQ 965944

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 965944

November 26, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965944 KBR


TARIFF NO.: 8703.221.00

Ms. Lisa Beckett
Import Operations Supervisor
Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC
One Mercedes Drive
P.O. Box 350
Montvale, NJ 07645-0350

RE: Reconsideration of NY I84380; Replica Mercedes-Benz Motor Vehicle

Dear Ms. Beckett:

This is in reference to your letter dated August 14, 2002, in which you requested reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) I84380, issued to you by the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, dated July 31, 2002, concerning the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of a replica Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle. A sample purchase agreement of the replica motor vehicle was submitted and a brochure concerning the replica motor vehicle was reviewed.


The article involved in NY I84380 is a replica of the first Karl Benz motor vehicle. The three wheeled (two rear wheels, one front wheel) motor vehicle was first created in 1886. It has a steel tube frame and spoked wheels. It has a bench-type seat which appears to accommodate two adults. It has a water-cooled single-cylinder four stroke rear-mounted gasoline engine with a displacement of 954 cc. It has a power output of 0.75 horsepower at 400 rpm which can propel the vehicle at a top speed of 16 km/hr (10 mph). The vehicle uses fuel at a rate of approximately 10 liters per 100 kilometers (24 miles per gallon). The vehicle is steered by means of a steering crank in the middle of the vehicle. There is a hand brake, but no foot brake. The vehicle has a wheel base of 1450 mm, a length of 2700 mm, width of 1400, and a height of 1450 mm. The total weight of the vehicle is 265 kg (585 pounds).

The “Motor Car Replica Purchase Agreement” you supplied states the replica vehicle is “not intended to be used as an operating passenger vehicle and is not equipped with safety features to serve as a passenger vehicle; and is not certified for use on public roads and is not equipped with safety features required for operation on public roads and is sold only for display and demonstration purposes only.” Further, the purchase agreement states that the “Replica Vehicle shall not be in running condition and operable when delivered. Dealer, may at its option, modify the Replica Vehicle Dealer to be operable.”


What is the classification for the replica Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle?


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:

Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons (other than those of heading 8702), including station wagons and racing cars:

Other vehicles, with spark-ignition internal combustion reciprocating piston engine:

8703.21.00 Of a cylinder capacity not exceeding 1,000 cc

Special purpose motor vehicles, other than those principally designed for the transport of persons or goods (for example, wreckers, mobile cranes, fire fighting vehicles, concrete mixers, road sweepers, spraying vehicles, mobile workshops, mobile radiological units):

8705.90.00 Other

EN 87.03 states that this heading includes motor vehicles of various types, including amphibious motor vehicles and lightweight three wheeled vehicles. The EN includes specialty vehicles such as saloon cars, hackney carriages, snowmobiles, golf cars and similar vehicles.

You argue that the replica Mercedes-Benz should not be classified in heading 8703, HTSUS, because the vehicle is not certified for use on public roads and is not equipped with safety features required on modern motor vehicles. However, as can be seen in EN 87.03, this heading includes vehicles which are not meant to be used on public roads, i.e., amphibious vehicles, snowmobiles, golf cars, etc. See NY F84501 (March 31, 2000), (All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) designed for recreational off-road use were classified in subheading 8703.21.00, HTSUS). Thus, it is evident from the language of the HTSUS, the ENs and Customs decisions, that vehicle use on public roadways is not required for classification within heading 8703, HTSUS. Further, the safety features of today’s automobiles are not required on the various vehicles included within heading 8703, e.g., golf carts. Therefore, we find that the replica Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle is not precluded from classification in heading 8703, HTSUS.

You argue that classification within heading 8705, HTSUS, is more appropriate. In what might appear to be a similar case to the replica Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle, Customs in HQ 951442 (May 1, 1992), found that “The Shire”, a replica motor vehicle built on a Ford Transit chassis, was classified in heading 8705, HTSUS. However, The Shire replica motor vehicle included an extra roof rack for carrying message boards, had detachable side panels that served as message boards or serving hatches, and the interior was equipped with catering equipment. Customs found that the additional features were for the special service of dispensing refreshments and providing unique advertising and, therefore, qualified as a “special purpose vehicle.” (citing The Carrington Co., United Geophysical Corp. v. United States, C.D. 4415 (1973), aff’d, 496 F.2d 902 (Cust. Ct. 1974)). The Mercedes-Benz replica motor vehicle does not have any of these additional features.

Customs precluded vehicles for transportation from heading 8705, HTSUS, defining the requirements for heading 8705 stating:

[o]ur review of the [Explanatory Notes] leads to the conclusion that vehicles of heading 8705 must possess equipment designed to perform a specialized service or services at the job site, with any transport function clearly subsidiary.

HQ 955231 (January 7, 1994) (citing HQ 087028 (August 13, 1990)). The ENs to heading 8705, HTSUS, show that the vehicles included in this heading are all service vehicles whose main function is not that of transportation, but of performing some other function, i.e., cranes, snowplows, concrete mixers, etc.

In the instant case, the Mercedes-Benz replica vehicle was originally designed as a passenger transport vehicle. It remains a fully functional vehicle for the same purpose. It has a water-cooled engine that will propel the vehicle at 10 mph, it has brakes, it can be steered, and it has a seat to accommodate passengers. Indeed, the brochure for the replica motor vehicle states it can be “operated on standard gasoline, is always ready for use and does not place unreasonable demands on its chauffeur”. Further, the brochure states it is “[s]pectacular on the move” and should be used to “give local journalists the opportunity to climb in for a ride”. This clearly states the intention to use the replica vehicle for passenger transport. Therefore, heading 8703, HTSUS, as a motor vehicle principally designed for the transport of persons, not heading 8705, HTSUS, as a special purpose motor vehicle other than for the transport of persons, is the correct classification.


In accordance with the above discussion, the Mercedes-Benz replica motor vehicle is classified in subheading 8703.21.00, HTSUS, which provides for motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, other vehicles with spark-ignition internal combustion reciprocating piston engine, of a cylinder capacity not exceeding 1,000 cc.

NY I84380 is affirmed.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: