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HQ 967433

FEBRUARY 9, 2005

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 967433 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 7307.19.9060

Port Director
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
610 S. Canal Street, Room 306
Chicago, IL 60607

RE: Internal Advice 04-027; Gas Meter Swivels, Gas Meter Nuts, Union Nuts

Dear Port Director:

With your memorandum of October 26, 2004 (APP-6-TO:CT306 VDI), you forwarded a letter from counsel for McDonald Manufacturing Company, dated September 24, 2004, requesting internal advice, pursuant to section 177.11(b)(2) of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Regulations. At issue is the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of gas meter swivels, gas meter swivel nuts and gas meter union nuts for use with gas meter sets. At a meeting in our office on October 4, 2004, at counsel’s request, additional facts and legal arguments were presented and descriptive literature and samples provided.

The goods were entered under a provision in heading 9028, HTSUS, as parts and accessories for gas supply or production meters. Counsel reasserts this classification for the gas meter swivels and proposes to reclassify the swivel nuts and meter nuts in a provision of heading 7318, HTSUS, as nuts of iron or steel. Citing existing rulings on substantially similar merchandise, you propose to classify these goods in a provision of heading 7307, HTSUS, as tube or pipe fittings of iron or steel.


The merchandise at issue is gas meter swivels (meter swivel), gas meter swivel nuts and gas meter union nuts (the nuts), used with industrial and residential gas displacement meters. In a typical gas meter set installation, gas
flows from the gas piping system into the inlet portion of a gas meter bar, into and through a meter swivel, then into the gas meter. A typical gas meter bar consists of two cast 45-degree elbows or bends, one at each end, with a hole-punched “bar” in the center to which a bracket can be attached. This insures that the gas meter is securely connected to the building. Meter swivels have a threaded end for joining to the gas meter bar and a specially-designed flanged end for joining to the gas meter by means of the swivel nuts. Gas exits the gas meter through another meter swivel through the outlet portion of the gas meter bar back into the piping system. Union nuts are used to assemble an insulated union, which in turn is connected to a gas pipe, with a gas meter bar or a gas meter valve. The swivel nuts and union nuts (the nuts) are of uncoated malleable cast iron and threaded internally.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

7307 Tube or pipe fittingsof iron or steel:

Cast fittings:


Ductile fittings


7318 Screws, bolts, nutsand similar articles, of iron or steel:

Threaded articles:

7318.16.00 Nuts

Gassupply or production meters, including calibrating meters thereof: parts and accessories thereof:

9028.90.00 Parts and accessories


Whether the meter swivels and the nuts are tube or pipe fittings of heading 7307.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified 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 GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. Customs and Border Protection believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

In its September 24, 2004, submission, counsel maintains that because gas meters are without question provided for in heading 9028, the meter swivels are parts and accessories principally used with such meters and are thus classifiable in subheading 9028.90.00, HTSUS. In addition, for reasons that follow, neither the swivel nuts nor the union nuts are within the common and commercial meaning of the term “pipe fitting.” Counsel maintains that CBP has clearly misunderstood the function and use of pipe fitting nuts and that HQ 965939, dated July 16, 2003, as well as other rulings classifying substantially similar merchandise in provisions of heading 7307, HTSUS, are in error and should be revoked. Finally, counsel claims that the swivel nuts and union nuts are classifiable eo nomine as nuts of iron or steel, in subheading 7318.16.00, HTSUS, or, alternatively, as other threaded articles, in subheading 7307.19.00, HTSUS.

Counsel’s claim is that a reading of the ENs and relevant CBP rulings on similar merchandise indicates that goods of heading 7307 must join together pieces of pipe by connecting the bores of two tubes together, connect a tube to some other apparatus or close the tube aperture, and must extend or form a part of the piping system by forming an integral part of the bore. Counsel asserts that neither the meter swivel nor the nuts conform to this description. The meter swivels and swivel nuts connect gas meters to gas meter bars; they do not join pieces of pipe together, citing NY K83125, dated March 10, 2004. Union nuts are used to fasten insulated unions to gas meter bars or gas meter valves; they do not connect directly to the gas pipe. It is the insulated union that is the pipe fitting, as it is connected directly to the gas pipe. Counsel notes the insulated union is not classifiable as a pipe fitting because it is made of rubber and steel or brass. Because the union nut connects insulated unions to gas meter bars or gas meter valves and the insulated unions are considered pipe fittings and not pipes or tubes per se, they connect a pipe fitting to an apparatus, a function not described by the 73.07 ENs.

As to the claim for the meter swivels under heading 9028, Chapter 90, Note 1(f), HTSUS, excludes from Chapter 90 ‘parts of general use’ as defined in note 2 to section XV. Note 2(a) to section XV identifies articles of heading 7307 as parts of general use. See NY K83125, dated March 10, 2004, which confirms this classification methodology. The first area of inquiry, therefore, is whether the gas meter swivel, as well as the swivel nuts and union nuts, are tube or pipe fittings of heading 7307. As noted previously, the 73.07 ENs state the fittings of that heading are mainly used for connecting the bores of two tubes together, or for connecting a tube to some other apparatus, or for closing the tube aperture. The heading does not cover articles used for installing pipes and tubes but which do not form an integral part of the bore. The description and manner of installation and operation of gas meter swivels and gas meter nuts used with industrial and residential gas displacement meters is discussed fully in HQ 967299, dated December 21, 2004, the contents of which are incorporated by reference in this decision. In discussing the scope of the 73.07 EN, as it relates to gas meter swivels and swivel nuts, HQ 967299 contained the following statement:

The facts in this case indicate that the meter swivels have a National Pipe Thread end which screws into the two pipe elbows or bends of the meter bar that connect to the gas piping (tube). The other end of each meter swivel connects to the gas meter by means of the [swivel] nut which screws onto the [mated] threaded nipples cast into the top of the meter. Thus, under the referenced EN, the meter swivel and meter nut together connect or screw the gas pipe to another apparatus, i.e., the meter, by means of the elbow sections of the meter bar, the center piece of which serves merely as a means of connecting and securing the meter to the wall. The meter swivel and meter nut qualify as goods of heading 7307. This eliminates heading 9028 from consideration.

The gas meter swivel and gas meter nut at issue here likewise conform to the 73.07 EN. We conclude that they are provided for in heading 7307. Heading 9028 is eliminated from consideration. Union nuts are used to assemble an insulated union which in turn is connected to a gas pipe through a gas meter bar. HQ 965939, supra, addressed the tariff status of pipe fitting nuts, referred to variously as meter nuts, swivel nuts and union nuts, among designations, and found them to be classifiable in subheading 7307.19.90, HTSUS. That ruling in part held that the pipe fitting nuts serve to connect other pipe fitting components, e.g., in the case of union nuts, the nuts serve to connect the head and tail components which are in turn connected to the two pipes. The subject pipe fitting nuts, i.e., union nuts, were used to connect the bores of two tubes together, and were within the scope of the 73.07 EN. The findings of fact in HQ 965939 have not been satisfactorily refuted. The legal conclusion that necessarily follows is that the union nuts meet the description in the 73.07 EN. The union nuts are likewise provided for in heading 7307.

The second area of inquiry is whether the swivel nuts and union nuts qualify as goods of heading 7318, either as nuts or, under the rule of statutory construction ejusdem generis, as other threaded articles. This would preclude them from classification in heading 7307. You observe that the term ‘nut’ is to be construed in accordance with its common and commercial meanings, which are presumed to be the same, and maintain that the swivel nuts and the union nuts are within such meaning. You cite HQ 965584, dated September 24, 2002, since revoked by HQ 965939, dated July 16, 2003, which list a number of lexicographic sources defining the term ‘nut’ and argue that the swivel nuts and union nuts have features and design characteristics that are within these lexicons.

Pipe fitting nuts or pipe nuts, the subject of HQ 965939, were internally threaded articles used, in conjunction with other components, to join two pipes. Also called meter nuts, swivel nuts, eclipse nuts, union nuts, regulator nuts, or compression nuts, each type has a ‘shoulder’ or ‘flange’ inside the rim of the nut, interrupting the threads and forming a ‘stop.’ Pipe nuts are designed to exert a clamping force by the shoulder rather than the face as is the case with other nuts. In the latter case, the clamping force is created by the outside face (external bearing surface) pressing against a washer or the surface of the article being assembled. HQ 965939 held that because pipe fitting nuts, which included swivel nuts and union nuts, had different design features and intended usages than so-called ordinary nuts, the former were not described by heading 7318. You assert that the special design features of the pipe fitting nuts in HQ 965939 should not preclude their classification as ‘nuts’ in heading 7318.

You cite United-Carr Fastener Corporation v. United States, C.D. 2648, aff’d. C.A.D. 913 (1967), for the proposition that an article is within an eo nomine classification notwithstanding that additional features and capabilities might enable it to perform functions over and above those of articles within such classification, provided the article retains the essential characteristics of the article named. The following appears on p. 4 of your September 24, 2004 submission “In United-Carr, the court found that an eo nomine statutory designation of a nut included all forms of that article, and that the article before the court was a nut because it came within the common meaning of the term and had a ‘single-mindedness of purpose as a holding device.’” (Italics in the original).

First, we find that the lexicons cited in HQ 965584 provide such a broad range of definitions of the term ‘nut’ as to provide no meaningful context in the present circumstances. Where sources of common meaning are conflicting, tentative and generally not helpful, resort should be to legislative history, administrative practice and other external aids. F.W. Myers, Inc. v. United States, 12 CIT 566 (1988). It is noteworthy that the ENs are often cited in common meaning analyses. In this respect, the 73.18 EN describes ‘nuts’ as metal pieces designed to hold the corresponding bolts
in place. They are usually tapped, i.e., have an internal or female thread, throughout but are sometimes blind. The heading includes wing nuts, butterfly nuts, etc. Lock nuts are sometimes used with bolts. The article in United-Carr Fastener, the TEE NUT, was stamped into a ‘T’ shape, the hollow stem portion or barrel of which is tapped internally with a female thread to enable the barrel to receive and retain the male thread of a bolt. A significant design feature, the crossmember of the ‘T’, with multiple prongs, enabled the crossmember to be driven into wood. The TEE NUT, now secured to the one piece of wood and immovable, provides the link to allow the joining together of that piece of wood to another piece of wood by means of a bolt that is affixed to it.

In United-Carr Fastener, the TEE NUT was found to be within the common meaning of the term ‘nut’ because, irrespective of other design features it may have, it was used with a bolt. That the swivel nuts and union nuts at issue here are not used with bolts is a strong indication that they are not within the common meaning of the term ‘nut.’ The 7318 ENs likewise emphasize that nuts require use with bolts. The tariff term ‘nut’ does not include everything literally within the term. United States v. Andrew Fisher Cycle Co., C.D. 3717, C.A.D. 986 (1970). We affirm the decision in HQ 965939 that “pipe fitting nuts are not of the same class or kind of goods enumerated in heading 7318, HTSUS.”

CBP’s position on the classification of meter swivels, swivel nuts and union nuts has been consistent and longstanding. In addition to HQ 965939, see also NY 859671, dated February 14, 1991, NY K83125, dated March 10, 2004 and HQ 967299, dated December 21, 2004.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the gas meter swivels, gas meter nuts and union nuts at issue are provided for in heading 7307. They are classifiable in subheading 7307.19.9060, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).

You are to mail this decision to the internal advice applicant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.cbp.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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