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HQ 967758

August 18, 2005



TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.9880

Mr. Pete Mento
Ms. Julie Vair
Expeditors Tradewin, LLC.
1015 Third Avenue, 12th Floor
Seattle, Washington 98104

RE: Soft Close Device for Toilet Seats

Dear Mr. Mento and Ms. Vair:

This is in reference to your letter on behalf of Sankyo Seiki (America) Inc., dated March 14, 2005, to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, in which you requested a binding ruling concerning the classification of a soft close device for toilet seats, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). This request was returned to you requesting additional information by letter dated March 23, 2005. You submitted additional information in another letter requesting a binding ruling in this matter, dated April 19, 2005. You also provided a sample for our review. The binding ruling request was referred to this office for reply. Consideration was also given to information provided during a conference call held with you and representatives of Sankyo Seiki (America) Inc., on August 17, 2005.


The article involved is a soft close module manufactured in Japan for use with a toilet seat. The toilet seat manufacturer designs the toilet seat hinge so that the slow close module may be installed inside the hinge. It is designed to limit the closing speed of a hinged toilet seat to prevent the toilet seat from slamming shut. Although you state that a soft close module could be used with other articles, you also state that for the instant design, no uses beyond a hinged toilet seat are anticipated. The soft close module operates by allowing a hydraulic medium, silicon oil, to flow through a specified opening at a specified rate. The soft close module measures approximately one cubic inch. It is made of molded plastics and is assembled with four metal screws. The soft close module is filled with silicon oil. A flap inside the module controls the flow of the silicon oil from one side of the module to the other. You describe the module’s operation as “a flap inside the module allows fluid to flow from one side of the module to the other with little to no resistance during seat/cover lifting. Then, during seat/cover descent, the flap slows the fluid’s return flow offering resistance and thereby slowing descent.”

You believe that the soft close module should be classified in heading 8479, HTSUSA, as machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof.


Is the soft close module for toilet seats classifiable as machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions in heading 8479, HTSUSA, or as an article of plastic in heading 3926, HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs 2 through 6.

The HTSUSA provisions under consideration are as follows:

3926 Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914:

3926.90 Other:

3926.90.98 Other:

3926.90.9880 Other

8479 Machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof:

Other machines and mechanical appliances:

8479.89 Other:


8479.89.98 Other:


In understanding the language of the HTSUSA, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUSA, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The ENs for Heading 8479, HTSUSA, state, in pertinent part:

This heading is restricted to machinery having individual functions, which : (a) Is not excluded from this Chapter by the operation of any Section or Chapter Note. and (b) Is not covered more specifically by a heading in any other Chapter of the Nomenclature. and (c) Cannot be classified in any other particular heading of this Chapter since : (i) No other heading covers it by reference to its method of functioning, description or type. and (ii) No other heading covers it by reference to its use or to the industry in which it is employed. or (iii) It could fall equally well into two (or more) other such headings (general purpose machines).

The machinery of this heading is distinguished from the parts of machinery, etc., that fall to be classified in accordance with the general provisions concerning parts, by the fact that it has individual functions.

For this purpose the following are to be regarded as having “ individual functions ” : (A) Mechanical devices, with or without motors or other driving force, whose function can be performed distinctly from and independently of any other machine or appliance. Example : Air humidification and dehumidification are individual functions because they can be performed by appliances operating independently of any other machine or appliance. A separately presented air dehumidifier, even if designed to be mounted on an ozone generator falls, therefore, to be classified in this heading as having an individual function. (B) Mechanical devices which cannot perform their function unless they are mounted on another machine or appliance, or are incorporated in a more complex entity, provided that this function: (i) is distinct from that which is performed by the machine or appliance whereon they are to be mounted, or by the entity wherein they are to be incorporated, and (ii) does not play an integral and inseparable part in the operation of such machine, appliance or entity. Example : A chain cutter is a device which is mounted on an industrial sewing machine and which automatically cuts the thread so that the machine can run without interruption. This device performs an individual function because it plays no part in the “ sewing ” function of the machine; as there is no other more specific heading, the chain cutter falls to be classified here.

On the other hand, the function of a carburettor for an internal combustion engine is distinct from that of the engine but it is not an “ individual function ” as defined above because the operation of the carburettor is inseparable from that of the engine. Separately presented carburettors are therefore to be classified as parts of engines in heading 84.09.

Similarly, mechanical or hydraulic shock absorbers form an integral part of the machine or appliance in which they are to be incorporated. Separately presented shock absorbers therefore fall to be classified as parts of the machines or appliances on which they are to be mounted. (Shock absorbers for vehicles or aircraft fall in Section XVII).

The ENs for heading 8479 describe “Machinery of General Use”, “Machinery For Certain Industries” and “Miscellaneous Machinery”. Neither the toilet seat nor the slow close module are similar to the types of described machinery.

You argue that the instant slow close module qualifies for classification in Heading 8479, HTSUSA, under EN 84.79 (B). However, as explained in the EN, this requires the slow close module to be mounted on another machine, appliance or incorporated into a more complex entity. In this case, a plastic toilet seat does not qualify as a machine, appliance or more complex entity. Plastic toilet seats are classified in heading 3922, HTSUSA, a heading which does not describe machines or appliances. See, e.g., NY C84772 (March 11, 1998). A toilet seat is not composed of moving parts that are performing work. Even considering the toilet seat hinge, simply attaching the seat to a bowl and allowing it to raise and lower is not performing work. A toilet seat is passive and not operated by a power source. See HQ 967385 (January 14, 2005). Further, as described in the ENs, a plastic toilet seat is not “a more complex entity” than the slow close module. Therefore, the slow close module is not classified in heading 8479, HTSUSA.

If no single heading describes all of the components of an article, the components must either be considered as a set or composite good under GRI 3(b), or the components must be classified individually. The slow close module has three components, plastic, silicon oil and metal screws. GRI 3(b) which states that when goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

Under EN (VIII) to GRI 3(b), “the factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.”

CBP has taken the position that, in an essential character analysis for purposes of GRI 3(b), the role of the constituent materials or components in relation to the use of the goods is generally of primary importance, but the other factors listed in EN (VIII) for GRI 3(b) should also be considered, as applicable (see, e.g., HQ 961095 dated July 20, 1998; HQ 962047 dated May 17, 1999).

In the instant case, the bulk and shape of the material are composed of plastic. Therefore, we find the essential character of the slow close module to be determined by the plastic component.

CBP has previously classified similar articles for toilets in heading 3926, HTSUS. In NY J80378 (February 4, 2003), CBP classified a plastic unidirectional damper for toilet seats. The article was described as a non-mechanical damper/hinge designed for use in toilet seats to provide a noise-free controlled motion when lifting and lowering a toilet seat. CBP classified this article in 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA. In NY D84311 (November 19, 1998), CBP classified plastic toilet seat hinges in 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA. In NY D83846 (December 1, 1998), CBP classified plastic toilet seat bumpers in 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA. Therefore, we find that the slow close module for toilet seats is classified in heading 3926, specifically subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA, as: “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: Other: Other: Other.”


Pursuant to GRI 3(b), the slow close module for toilet seats is classified in heading 3926. It is provided for in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA, as: “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: Other: Other: Other.” The 2005 column one general rate of duty is 5.3% ad valorum.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUSA and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov/tata/hts.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division

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