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HQ 967547

February 16, 2005

RR:CR:GC 967547 RSD


TARIFF NO.: none

Ms. Olga L. Cantu
Port Manager
Norman G. Jensen, Inc.
801 Union Pacific Blvd. Ste 7
Laredo, Texas 78045

RE: Tariff Status of Cadavers Imported for Medical Purposes

Dear Ms. Cantu:

This is in response to your letter of December 13, 2004, on behalf of SmartStar Science Procurement, that was received by the Customs Information Exchange regarding the importation of cadavers from Mexico for medical research. Your letter was forwarded to the Office of Regulations and Rulings in Washington, D.C., for a response.


According to your letter, the importer, SmartStart Science Procurement, intends to import cadavers acquired in Mexico through the ports of El Paso, Texas and Miami, Florida. Before they are exported to the United States the cadavers will be embalmed, rather than being frozen. The cadavers will be imported on behalf of medical institutions for medical analysis. Death certificates will accompany the cadavers.


What is the tariff status of cadavers that are imported into the United States on behalf of medical institutions?


General Note 1 to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) provides that all goods provided for in the HTSUS and imported into the customs territory of the United States from outside thereof are subject to duty or exempt therefrom as prescribed in general notes 3 through 18. Section 141.4(a), CBP Regulations, found in Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR 141.4(a)), provides that [a]ll merchandise imported into the United States is required to be entered, unless specifically excepted.” See Part 141, CBP Regulations, (19 CFR Part 141) generally, and section 141.0 A(a) CBP Regulations (19 CFR 141.0 A(a)) specifically, for a definition of “entry”.

General Note 3(e)(i) of the HTSUS provides that, for the purposes of General Note 1, corpses are not goods subject to the provisions of the HTSUS. Therefore, because corpses are not considered goods subject to the HTSUS, they are not required to be entered. The question that arises is whether corpses and cadavers are synonymous terms.

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (unabridged ed.,1973) provides the following definitions:

Cadaver—a dead body, especially of a human being; corpse. Corpse—a dead body, usually of a human being.

In HQ 958803 dated August 27, 1996, which involved the tariff classification of cadaver bags or body bags, we stated in pertinent part the following:

General Note 16 [now General Note 3] HTSUSA exempts corpses, etc. from General Note 1. The EN to Rule 1 of the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) states that “[T]he Nomenclature sets outgoods handled in international trade.” In reviewing this nomenclature we have concluded that human remains are not an item which would be considered to be encompassed by the term “goods” as that term is used in the HTSUSA, i.e., a cadaver is not an article of trade.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that cadavers and corpses are synonymous terms, and thus they are not goods that are subject to the provisions of the HTSUS. Since under the exemption of General Note 3(e)(i) corpses are not subject to entry requirements, a HTSUS classification for cadavers imported into the U.S. is not necessary.

With regard to the issue of admissibility, the importation of cadavers is subject to the regulations of the Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It appears that, if the deceased has died of natural causes,--i.e., and not from an infectious disease—and has been embalmed, then a death certificate, in English stating the cause of death, would be sufficient for the release of the cadaver. Questions regarding the applicable regulations for shipments of cadavers through the port of El Paso, Texas should be addressed to the following office:

Public Health Service
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tom Bradley International Airport
380 World Way, Box N19
Los Angeles, California 90045
(310) 215-2365
(310) 215-2285 (fax)

Questions regarding importation of cadavers through the port of Miami, Florida should be referred to:

Public Health Service
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Miami International Airport
PO Box 996488
Miami, FL 33299-6488
(305) 526-2910
(305) 526-2798 (fax)


Pursuant to General Note 3(e)(i), HTSUS, cadavers are exempt from entry requirements, and thus they are not subject to being classified in the HTSUS.


Myles B. Harmon, Director

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