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HQ 116684

August 17, 2006

BOR-4-07-RR:BSTC:CCI 116684 rb


Robert Shapiro
Thompson Coburn LLP
1909 K Street, NW., Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20006-1167

RE: Instruments of International Traffic; Accessories; Tamper-Resistant Embedded Controller (TREC); 19 U.S.C. 1322(a); 19 CFR 10.41a

Dear Mr. Shapiro:

In your letter dated June 27, 2006, on behalf of your client, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), you request a ruling designating IBM’s Tamper-Resistant Embedded Controller (TREC) as an instrument of international traffic under 19 CFR 10.41a. Our response to your request follows.


International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) has developed a device known as a Tamper-Resistant Embedded Controller (TREC). The TREC is an enhanced container-security, monitoring and tracking device that, once installed on a shipping container, collects, analyzes and reports data regarding the status, condition and location of the container and its contents from point of origin to destination. In its standard configuration, the TREC tracks the movement of the container using data input by accredited users, global positioning systems, and its various sensors. The TREC sensors monitor for: door opening; motion/intrusion; acceleration; ambient light; temperature; and certain chemicals. Using data parameters input by accredited users, the TREC compiles information for current and later analysis, such as when, where and with what commodity the container is loaded, as well as attempts to otherwise enter the container; and, to this end, the TREC contains wireless communications protocols enabling it to be actively monitored at the port facility or other locations. The TREC is designed to be mounted on new containers, or retrofitted into containers already in circulation; and it is envisioned that the TREC may enter as an installed component or as a separate accessory to be so installed.


Whether the device concerned (TREC) may properly be designated as an instrument of international traffic under 19 U.S.C. 1322(a) and 19 CFR 10.41a.


Generally, to qualify as an instrument of international traffic (IIT), an article must be used as a holder or container; in addition, the article must be substantial, suitable for and capable of repeated use, and be used in significant numbers in international traffic (see, e.g., Headquarters ruling (HQ) 116575, dated January 26, 2006).

Under 19 U.S.C. 1322(a), in pertinent part, IITs 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. In this case, the applicable regulation is set forth in 19 CFR 10.41a. Section 10.41a(a)(1) expressly designates lift vans, cargo vans, shipping tanks, skids, pallets, caul boards, and cores for textile fabrics as IITs, and authorizes the designation of other items as IITs. To this latter end, § 10.41a(a)(3) provides that “‘instruments of international traffic’” includes the normal accessories and equipment imported with any such instrument which is a ‘container’ as defined in Article 1 of the Customs Convention on Containers.”

Once designated as IITs, these items may be released without entry or the payment of duty, subject to the provisions of § 10.41a. In this regard, for example, § 10.41a(a)(2) makes clear that accessories or equipment that are imported separately and intended for installation in “any container of foreign production which is an instrument of international traffic may be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption without the deposit of duty if the person making the entry or withdrawal from warehouse files a declaration...that the accessory or equipment is for a container of foreign production which is an instrument of international traffic. The port director must be satisfied that the importer of the...accessory, or equipment had the declared intention at the time of importation.” See also, subheading 9803.00.50, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.

Following a review of the information submitted in this case, we find that the devices are substantial, suitable for and capable of repeated use with intermodal containers which are IITs, and will serve as accessories or equipment for such containers. Therefore, the TRECs likewise qualify as IITs pursuant to 19 CFR 10.41a(a)(3), and they are so designated (compare, HQ 116288, dated August 12, 2004 (Container Security Units (CSUs) intended to detect unauthorized intrusions into cargo containers designated as IITs pursuant to 19 CFR 10.41a(a)(3))). In those instances where the devices are admitted separately as accessories intended for installation in containers (IITs), entry of the devices, together with a declaration of intent to this effect, would be required in accordance with 19 CFR 10.41a(a)(2), supra (see also HQ 116575, supra (involving shock/climate measuring devices intended as accessories for intermodal containers)).


The TRECs are hereby designated as instruments of international traffic within the meaning of 19 U.S.C. 1322(a) and 19 CFR 10.41a. Specifically, this designation includes TRECs that have been imported with containers under 19 CFR 10.41a(a)(3); and, subject especially to 19 CFR 10.41a(a)(2), it includes TRECs that are imported as separate articles intended for installation in containers.


Glen E. Vereb

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