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HQ 952850

April 14, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952850 GGD


TARIFF NOS.: 9608.99.4000; 7320.20.5015

Mr. John C. Herrera
John C. Herrera, Inc.
9815 West Lawrence Avenue
Schiller Park, Illinois 60176

RE: Parts of Ball Point Pens and Fountain Pens; Not Complete Articles Entered Unassembled

Dear Mr. Herrera:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of November 2, 1992, on behalf of your client, concerning the tariff classifications of parts of pens, imported from Germany by Autopoint, Inc. Samples consisting of 1 assembled fountain pen, 1 assembled ballpoint pen, and the seven parts of 1 unassembled ball point pen, were submitted with your inquiry.


The articles at issue are parts of ball point pens and fountain pens, imported in quantities of approximately 1000 pieces of a particular part in a box or bag, all for assembly in the U.S. There are no components of domestic origin. The assembled sample fountain pen apparently consists of five or six individually imported parts. The seven individually imported parts of each ball point pen consist of a cap, clip, barrel, and two buttons (all plastic), a plastic ink reservoir tipped with a metal ball point stem, and a metal spring. Assembled pens are available in various color combinations drawn from nine different colors.


Is the merchandise properly classified in subheadings 9608.10.0000 and 9608.39.0000, HTSUSA, as ball point pens and fountain pens; or in subheadings 9608.99.4000 and 7320.20.5015, HTSUSA, as parts of articles provided for in subheadings 9608.10 and 9608.39, and helical springs, respectively?


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the harmonized system 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 GRI's may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRIs.

Heading 9608, HTSUSA, provides for, among other items, ball point pens, fountain pens, and parts (including caps and clips) of the foregoing articles. The subheadings at issue differentiate between actual pens and parts of pens, the latter of which, when combined, need not comprise complete pens. With respect to whether the merchandise under consideration is classified as pens or parts of pens, we note that GRI 2(a), HTSUSA, states in pertinent part that:

[a]ny reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished....It shall also include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), entered unassembled or disassembled.

Explanatory Note V to GRI 2(a) provides the following guidance concerning complete but unassembled articles:

The second part of Rule 2(a) provides that complete or finished articles presented unassembled or disassembled are to be classified in the same heading as the assembled article. When goods are so presented, it is usually for reasons such as requirements or convenience of packing, handling or transport.

Explanatory Note VII to GRI 2(a) provides guidance as to the simplicity required in the assembly of goods considered to be presented "unassembled":

For the purposes of this Rule, "articles presented unassembled or disassembled" means articles the components of which are to be assembled either by means of simple fixing devices (screws, nuts, bolts, etc.) or by riveting or welding, for example, provided only simple assembly operations are involved. Unassembled components of an article which are in excess of the number required for the article when complete are to be classified separately.

The importer has stated telephonically that the company's intent is to convert all pen parts of a particular shipment into complete pens (without excess parts). The importer's clients, however, order pens in certain color combinations that the company, at times, is unable to assemble from the colored parts of one particular shipment, causing an excess of the colored parts not ordered. In such cases, intermingling of colored parts from separate shipments is required to assemble the pens ordered in colors the customer requests.

It thus appears that a main reason the goods are entered unassembled is not for requirements or convenience of packing, handling, or transport, but because all the parts required for the assembled pens may not be included in the same shipment. These parts are considered bulk inventory and are separately classifiable on the basis of GRI 1.

In considering the tariff classification of the metal spring for ball point pens, we note that heading 7320, HTSUSA, provides for springs and leaves for springs, of iron or steel. Subheading 7320.20.5015 covers helical (spiral) springs (other than those suitable for motor vehicle suspension) that have a cross-sectional dimension of less than 5.1 mm., and that is the proper classification of this pen part.

As previously noted, heading 9608, HTSUSA, provides for pens and parts of pens. Subheading 9608.99.4000 covers parts of fountain pens, India ink drawing pens, and ball point pens, which is the proper classification of all the remaining pen parts.


The metal spring parts of ball point pens are properly classified in subheading 7320.20.5015, HTSUSA, the provision for "Springs and leaves for springs, of iron or steel: Helical springs: Other...Helical springs, of wire having a cross-sectional dimension of less than 5.1 mm." The applicable column one duty rate is 5.7 percent ad valorem.

All the remaining parts of ball point pens and fountain pens are properly classified in subheading 9608.99.4000, HTSUSA, the provision for "Ball point pens... fountain pens...parts (including caps and clips) of the foregoing articles...: Other: Other: Other: Parts of articles provided for in subheadings 9608.10, 9608.31 and 9608.39...." The column one duty rate applicable to these parts is 0.9 cents each plus 6.1 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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