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HQ 116240

July 23, 2004

BOR-4-07 RR:IT:EC 116240 CK


Vince Brascia
Traffic Manager
900 E. Karcher Road
Nampa, ID 83687

RE: Steel film frames and plastic cases as instruments of international traffic; 19 CFR §10.41a; 19 U.S.C. §1322(a)

Dear Mr. Brascia:

This is in response to your ruling request on behalf of SpecTek, a division of Micron Technology, Inc., dated May 18, 2004. You request a ruling designating steel film frames and plastic cases as instruments of international traffic.


SpecTek and Micron export integrated circuit die to assemblers. The die are attached to a film which is attached to the steel film frame. The steel film frames are packed in plastic cases, and exported from the U.S. At the foreign assembler, the die are removed from the film frame, and the die are assembled into integrated circuits. The film frames, without the film and without the die, are packed in the plastic cases, and they are returned to SpecTec in the U.S. for re-use. Both the film frames and the plastic cases are of a substantial build and are capable of repeated use. The steel film frames can have an unlimited use, unless they are bent, and the plastic shippers can be used approximately 10 to 12 times. Presently, these commodities are primarily entered through Seattle, Anchorage, and Memphis. They may be entered though other ports in the future. SpecTec expects to re-import into the U.S. 7,500 steel film frames a month, and 500 plastic shippers.


Whether the steel film frames and plastic cases described above may be designated as instruments of international traffic within the meaning of 19 U.S.C. § 1322(a) and § 10.41a, Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 10.41a).


Title 19, United States Code, § 1322(a) (19 U.S.C. § 1322(a)), provides in pertinent part that "[v]ehicles and other instruments of international traffic,. . . shall be excepted from the application of the customs laws to such extent and subject to such terms and conditions as may be prescribed in regulations . . ." The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Regulations issued under the authority of § 322(a) are contained in section 10.41a (19 CFR § 10.41a). Section 10.41a(a)(1) specifically designates lift vans, cargo vans, shipping tanks, skids, pallets, caul boards, and cores for textile fabrics as instruments of international traffic.

Section 10.41a(a)(1) also authorizes the Commissioner of CBP to designate other items as instruments of international traffic in decisions to be published in the weekly Customs Bulletin. Once designated as instruments of international traffic, these items may be released without entry or the payment of duty, subject to the provisions of § 10.41a.

To qualify as an "instrument of international traffic" (IIT) within the meaning of 19 U.S.C. § 1322(a) and the regulation promulgated pursuant thereto (19 CFR § 10.41a et seq.), an article must be used as a container or holder. The article must be substantial, suitable for and capable of repeated use, and used in significant numbers in international traffic. (See, subheading 9803.00.50, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), and former Headnote 6(b)(ii), Tariff Schedules of the United States (HTSUS), as well as Headquarters Decisions 104766; 108084; 108658; 109665; and 109702).

The concept of reuse contemplated above is for commercial shipping or transportation purposes, and not incidental or fugitive uses. Tariff Classification Study, Sixth Supplemental Report (May 23, 1963) at 99. See, Holly Stores, Inc. v. United States, 697 F.2d 1387 (Federal Circuit, 1982).

In HQ 115503, dated May 30, 2000, CBP held that hard plastic boxes used to ship integrated circuit wafers qualified as IITs. In HQ 114506, dated October 29, 1998, CBP determined that containers made of plastic known as totes that were used to ship various small automobile replacement parts from Japan to United States met the requirements necessary for designation as IITs. In HQ 112534, dated January 25, 1993, CBP found that reusable plastic boxes designed to transport automotive strut components qualified as IITs. CBP has held that articles which consist of pallets and tops, plastic outer rings, plastic and cardboard pads, and form trays used to transport ceramic logs qualified as IITs when these parts were assembled together. See, HQ 115108, dated August 24, 2000. Most recently, CBP has held that corrugated cardboard and winding coils upon which steel is rolled qualify as IITs. See, HQ 116045, dated October 23, 2003.

In this case, the steel frames will not wear out, unless bent or otherwise damaged. The plastic cases, according to SpecTec, can be re-used 10 to 12 times. Both items are presented as substantial. Based on the above described criteria and the pictures submitted showing the steel film frames are substantial and durable, and over 7,500 a month will be used in international commerce, the steel film frames meet the requisite criteria to qualify as IITs pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1322(a). Additionally, the plastic cases, according to the submitted pictures, which can be used 10 to 12 times, are substantial in build, and will be used in sufficient numbers for international traffic (500 a month) meet the requisite criteria to qualify as IITs pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1322(a).


The steel film frames and plastic shippers described above qualify as instruments of international traffic within the meaning of 19 U.S.C. §1322(a) and may be released pursuant to 19 CFR § 10.41a.


Glen E. Vereb

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