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HQ 967919

JANUARY 24, 2006



TARIFF NO.: 7318.14.1060, 7318.14.5080

Port Director, U.S. Customs and Border Protection 555 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Protest 2809-05-100439; Coarse Thread Tapping Screws

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 2809-05-100439, filed by counsel on behalf of S&G Specialty Fasteners and Abrasives, Inc., now known as Quickscrews International Corp., against your classification of certain threaded fasteners under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).

The goods were entered as other screws and bolts having shanks or threads with a diameter of less than 6 mm, under subheading 7318.15.60, HTSUS. They were reclassified as wood screws under subheading 7318.12.00, HTSUS, and the entries liquidated on July 29, 2005, under this provision. This protest was timely filed on August 3, 2005. Counsel maintains that subheading 7318.14.10, HTSUS, self-tapping screws having shanks or threads with a diameter of less than 6 mm represents the correct classification. Alternatively, subheading 7318.15.60, HTSUS, is claimed to apply. Samples were provided.


The merchandise under protest comprises two types, “coarse thread” tapping screws and standard tapping screws. The first type are said to be designed from modified tapping screw standards to permit use in man-made materials such as particle
board and medium density fiber board. Such modifications include changing the screws’ thread pitch to a symmetrical 45 degrees, changing the length, reducing the diameter, and sharpening the point from 45 degrees to 20-25 degrees to permit smoother entry of the fastener into the target material. The remaining screws were designed either to a standard tapping screw specification or a substantially similar standard with minor modifications in the nature of improvements.

The entries were liquidated under subheading 7318.12.00, HTSUS, as wood screws, based on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) laboratory reports which identify some design features, i.e., sharp-tipped point and degree of pitch, as common to wood screws. The Customs Form 6445 indicates the fasteners have the majority of design characteristics associated with wood screws and they appear to have been modified so as to suit them for use principally in particle board and fiber board, which are wood products.

Counsel maintains that the CBP laboratory reports focused on only a few of the screws’ design features and contained incorrect references to such features, yet nevertheless characterized them as wood screws. Counsel concludes these reports do not establish the identity of the fasteners as wood screws, nor do the fasteners conform to any recognized industry standard for wood screws. Counsel also maintains that CBP classifies fasteners of the same class or kind as the subject fasteners as tapping screws.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

7318 Screws, bolts, nuts, and similar articles, of iron or steel:

Threaded articles:

7318.12.00 Other wood screws

Self-tapping screws:

Having shanks or threads with a diameter of less than 6 mm

Having shanks or threads with a diameter of 6 mm or more

7318.15 Other screws and bolts:


Having shanks or threads with a diameter of less than 6 mm


Whether the fasteners at issue are tapping screws for tariff purposes.


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. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the Harmonized System. CBP believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

CBP’s position on the classification of threaded fasteners is set forth in HQ 956811, dated April 14, 1995. CBP’s stated position is that the most objectively verifiable standard for differentiating one type of threaded fastener from another is by dimensional standards specified by or on behalf of the industry in which these fasteners are used. However, when there is no industry standard available to cover a particular fastener, as where a standard fastener has been modified so that it no longer conforms to the standard, CBP relies on a more general specification which establishes a recommended procedure for determining the identity of an externally threaded fastener. In cases where a particular fastener does not fall squarely within a recognized standard, we will classify it according to the standard to which it most closely conforms or, if none exists, in accordance with the majority of its design characteristics. There is no specific industry standard that covers the fasteners in this protest. Admittedly, the fasteners are modified, i.e., improved with design features added to better suit them for their intended end use service applications. If possible, we must identify a standard to which they most closely conform.

The liquidations in this case were based on twenty six (26) reports from CBP’s San Francisco laboratory, dated May 2, 10 and 20, 2005. Twenty four characterized the single sample fastener being examined as a wood screw. The remaining two reports identified the samples as tapping screws. A presumption of correctness attaches to laboratory reports and the testing methodology on which their results are based. However, this presumption may be rebutted by showing that the methodology utilized or the results are erroneous. See Consolidated Cork Corp. et al. v. United States, 54 Cust Ct. 83, C.D. 2512 (1965). The reports on wood screws identified thread per inch, i.e., pitch, measurements that corresponded neither to wood screw nor tapping screw measurements. Some identified gimlet points which are listed in American National Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ANSI/ASME) specification B18.6.1 for Wood Screws while others identified auger points which are not wood screw points. The laboratory reports identifying the samples as wood screws were based, in part at least, on design features not found in ANSI/ASME B18.6.1. Moreover, all of the laboratory reports confirming the wood screw classification contained the reference “information from the importer indicates it [the sample] is primarily designed for use in wood” followed by the conclusion that the sample was in fact a wood screw. It is unclear from the record what information the importer provided or the extent to which it may have influenced the conclusion these laboratory reports reached. In addition, there is an indication that wood screws do not work well in particle board, one of the stated uses of the instant fasteners. See HQ 960592, dated August 29, 1997. For all these reasons, we conclude that the San Francisco laboratory reports are inconclusive in identifying the sample fasteners as wood screws.

ANSI/ASME B18.6.4 is the specification for tapping screws. As previously stated, in cases where a particular fastener does not fall squarely within a recognized industry standard, we will classify it according to the standard to which it most closely conforms or in accordance with the majority of its design characteristics. In this case, the fasteners admittedly are modified. Therefore, we will focus on major design features, i.e., head design, thread design, and point design, as well as dimensional tolerances, to discern whether there are characteristics common to tapping screws. Many of the referenced laboratory reports describe flat countersunk, oval countersunk and pan head type screws, head types which are common to both wood screws and tapping screws, while at least four reports describe screws having hex washer heads, which are characteristic of tapping screws.

As to thread design, the 73.18 ENs describe screws for wood, a species of wood screws called coach screws or screw spikes, and self-tapping screws as having cutting threads which enable these fasteners to bite, cut [or “tap”] their own passage into the material. Such screws typically have steep pitch threading, where adjacent threads
are not close together. Random examination of submitted samples, from the smallest ¾-inch screws to the largest 2 and 3 ½-inch screws, indicates a consistent 1/16-inch pitch which we interpret, relative to the entire threaded portion of the shank, as steep. However, thread design is not a relevant factor in distinguishing wood screws from tapping screws.

The point design of these fasteners was discussed previously, albeit briefly, in establishing the inconclusive nature of the laboratory reports. More succinctly, those points described as gimlet points, characteristic of wood screws, measured 20-25 degrees whereas true gimlet points typically measure between 45 and 50 degrees. Auger and double auger points, on the other hand, are not listed in the identified standards either for wood screws or tapping screws. This is a point type modified by cutting a slot into the tip of the fastener to allow for the displacement of material and to reduce the cracking or splitting of the material as the screw is driven. Screws with this modified design feature function in a manner similar to self-drilling screws and are often used to mate dissimilar materials. This is not a typical wood screw application. In addition, auger points have a strong resemblance to the BT Type (flute) point identified in tapping screw specification ASTM/ASME B18.6.4.

Concerning dimensional tolerances, the reference guide Inch Fastener Standards (7th Edition), published by Industrial Fasteners Institute (IFI), provides information on fastener grade identification markings and standards governing fastener manufacture and use. Within the section “An Introduction to Tapping Screws” found in this publication it states “[t]he most important characteristic of tapping screw threads is major diameter.” The standard specification for the screws under protest requires that there be a .007 tolerance for the major diameter of a size 8 and size 10 fastener. This is consistent with specification B 18.6.4 for Type AB, B, BP, BF and BT tapping screws. The subject screws must also satisfy a particular torsion strength, i.e., 32 pounds-per-inch for nominal size 8 and 45 pounds-per-inch for nominal size 10. These are similar to those for Type A tapping screws (39 and 48 pounds-per-inch, respectively) and Type AB tapping screws (39 and 56 pounds-per-inch, respectively). Lastly, we note that invoices relating to entry K80-xxx0221-4 identify fastener part numbers 5715 and 9006 as “SMS,” an abbreviation for sheet metal screw.

The totality of the design features of the subject fasteners, while not conclusive in every respect, lead us to conclude that they most closely conform to ANSI/ASME specification 18.6.4 for tapping screws.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the threaded fasteners at issue are provided for in heading 7318. Those fasteners with shanks or threads with a diameter of less than 6 mm are classifiable in subheading 7318.14.1060, HTSUSA, dutiable in 2004 at the rate of 6.2 percent ad valorem. The protest should be ALLOWED as to these fasteners. Fasteners numbered 5502, 8217 and 13145 have shanks or threads with a diameter greater than 6 mm and are classifiable in subheading 7318.14.5080, HTSUSA, dutiable in 2004 at the rate of 8.6 percent ad valorem. Since the rate of duty under this classification is less than the rate for the liquidated classification (12.5 percent ad valorem) but more than the rate for the claimed classification (6.2 percent ad valorem), the protest should be DENIED except that reclassification of fasteners numbered 5502, 8217 and 13145 under subheading 7318.14.5080, HTSUSA, results in a partial allowance.

In accordance with the Protest/Petition Processing Handbook (CIS HB, January 2002, pp. 18 and 21), you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the CBP 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.


Robert A. Altneu

Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division

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