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HQ 968095

APRIL 21, 2006



TARIFF NO.: 8536.90.4000

Mr. Jim Reynolds
John A. Steer Company
28 S. Second Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

RE: Alligator Clips; NY C81069 Modified

Dear Mr. Reynolds:

In NY C81069, which the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), New York, issued to you on November 19, 1997, on behalf of National Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Products, Inc., a copper alligator clip (part 060CS) was found to be classifiable as other electrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits, for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V, in subheading 8536.90.8085, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed modification of NY C81069 was published on March 15, 2006, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 40, Number 12. No comments were received in response to this notice. The classification of the 20 AMP test clip (part 027) and the rubber insulators (parts 062B/R and 029B/R) expressed in NY C81069 is not affected by this decision.


The alligator clip is not further described in NY C81069 nor is its intended service application or applications stated. It is noted that some alligator clips are merely mechanical clips for attaching one thing to another as, for example, for affixing one’s bib in the dentist’s office. However, the ones under consideration here are of base metal and have spring-loaded serrated jaws on one end and a female portal on the other end. In use, an electrical lead wire is plugged into the female portal and the serrated jaws clamped onto another device to provide a connection for electrical energy to pass through. Among other things, these devices are commonly used with electrostatic discharge systems (EDS), electrocardiogram (ECG) machines and test and measurement systems.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8536 Electrical apparatus for switching or for protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (for example, switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders, junction boxes,) for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V:

8536.90 Other apparatus:

8536.90.40 Terminals, electrical splices and electrical couplings; wafer probers

8536.90.80 Other


Whether the copper alligator clip (part 060CS) is a terminal provided for in subheading 8536.90.40.


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. GRI 6 states, in part, that the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading is to be
according to the terms of those subheadings and any related section and chapter notes and, by appropriate substitution of terms, to Rules 1 through 5, and that only subheadings at the same level are comparable.

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).

In reviewing the classification of this merchandise, alligator or alligator-type clips qualify under heading 8536 as electrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits. However, it now appears the issue of whether they might be terminals of the type classifiable in subheading 8536.90.40, HTSUS, was not given sufficient consideration. As the term “terminal” is not defined in the HTSUS, nor described by any relevant EN, it is to be classified according to the common and commercial meaning of the term, as derived from electronics dictionaries and dictionaries of scientific and technical terms, as well as other authoritative lexicons. Brown Boveri Corp. v. United States, 53 CCPA 19, 23, C.A.D. 870 (1966), and THK America, Inc. v. United States, 17 C.I.T. 1169, 837 F. Supp. 427 (Ct. Int’l Trade, decided November 1, 1993). Thus, if the alligator clips are found to be “terminals” for tariff purposes, subheading 8536.90.40, HTSUS, would more specifically describe the merchandise than subheading 8536.90.80, HTSUS, and would prevail over that provision.

First of all, it is only those alligator clips that are configured for electrical connection, that are at issue here. In this regard, The Modern Dictionary of Electronics, Seventh Edition, Rudolf F. Graf (Editor), defines the term alligator clip as a “spring loaded metal clipused for making temporary electrical connections, generally at the end of a test lead on interconnection wire.” The same source defines terminal as “1. A point of connection for two or more conductors in an electrical circuit. 2. A device attached to a conductor to facilitate connection with another conductor. Webster’s New Universal Dictionary (Unabridged) defines alligator clip as “Elect. A type of terminal for making temporary electrical connections, consisting of a clip-like device” The New Oxford American Dictionary (2d Edition), defines terminal as “n. 2 a point of connection for closing an electrical circuit.” The Illustrated Dictionary of Electronics, Seventh Edition, Stan Gibilisco (Editor), defines terminal as “1. A connection point atan intermediate point of a device, or a point at which a voltage is to be applied. 2. A metal tab or lug attached to the end of a lead for connection purposes.” Finally, in considering the classification of “terminal blocks” for use in connecting telecommunication
equipment circuits inside buildings, HQ 966674, dated March 23, 2004, cited the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary in determining that a terminal was a device attached to the end of a wire or cable or to an electrical apparatus for convenience in making connections, and that terminal blocks secured two or more wires together to set up a circuit. The ruling concluded that when used with telecommunication equipment terminal blocks were devices for connecting electrical circuits together. These sources define devices that provide a connection between or in electrical circuits or systems that allows current or energy to be transferred.

Used with an EDS, one end of the alligator clip attaches an electrical lead wire to a wrist band worn by an assembler/technician with the other end attached to the serrated jaws which clip to the assembly table. Electrostatic energy the technician generates passes from him through the alligator clip to the table, then to ground, bypassing and preventing damage to the electrical components being assembled. An electrocardiogram is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart. In such uses, an electrical lead wire runs from one end of the alligator clip to the ECG machine while the other end attaches to a small tab electrode temporarily attached to the arms, legs and chest of the patient undergoing cardiac testing. The rate and regularity of heartbeats as well as the size and position of the heart’s chambers, in the form of low level electrical impulses, passes through the lead wire via the alligator clip to the ECG monitor, thus completing the circuit and permitting the impulses to be viewed. Finally, in testing and measurement equipment, an electrical lead wire attaches from one end of the alligator clip to testing devices such as an oscilloscope or multimeter. The serrated jaws on the other end attach to a capacitor, transistor or semiconductor device. The electrical property being tested, in the form of low level impulses, travels into the testing machine through the lead wire via the alligator clip. In each of these uses, the alligator clip functions to connect two systems together or to make connections in a circuit so that energy or current can flow from one to the other. We conclude that alligator clips are within the common and commercial meaning of the term “terminal” as discussed above. Therefore, the alligator clips are classifiable as terminals, in subheading 8536.90.40, HTSUS.


Under the authority of GRI 1 and GRI 6, the alligator clips, as described, are provided for in heading 8536 as electrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits. They are classifiable in subheading 8536.90.4000, HTSUSA.


NY C81069, dated November 19, 1997, is modified as to the alligator clips. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Gail A. Hamill
for Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division

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