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NY N009861

May 17, 2007



TARIFF NO.: 4412.99.0600

Stephen S. Spraitzar, Esq.
Law Offices of George R. Tuttle
Three Embarcadero Center, Suite 1160
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: The tariff classification of wood flooring panel with a chipboard (particle board) core from France

Dear Mr. Spraitzar:

In your letter dated April 13, 2007, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of Kahrs International, Inc. (“Kahrs”). You have stated in your letter that the classification ruling is being requested for an engineered flooring panel that will be prospectively imported by Kahrs from France. In addition, you state that Kahrs does not presently have any pending applications for an administrative review with any CBP’s offices. Moreover, Kahrs does not have any pending actions before any United States Courts with respect to the same category of merchandise.

The merchandise in question is a laminated 3-ply wood flooring panel with a thickness of 14 mm, a width of 130 mm, and lengths of 300 mm, 600 mm, 900 mm, and 1200 mm. The face layer consists of a 3.5 mm thick white oak (Quercus Alba), which has been finished with polyurethane. You state that the core layer consist of “chipboard” of a thickness of 8.8 mm. The back layer is made of a 1.7 mm thick spruce veneer. The grain of the face and back veneers is oriented to run along the length of the flooring panel.

You have submitted a sample of the subject product. However, the sample has a face made of iroko, a tropic wood species, because a sample with an oak face was not available. Nevertheless, other than having a face ply of iroko, the submitted sample is identical in all other respects as a sample that would be made with an oak face. The submitted sample is tongued and grooved on the edges (along the length).

You present two arguments in support of classifying the subject merchandise under subheading 4412.99.06, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). In the first, you believe that the subject flooring panels are not plywood. In the second, you believe that the “chipboard” core should be considered a form of particle board.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) and facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and General Rules of Interpretation. While neither legally binding nor dispositive of classification issues, the EN provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The core is described as consisting of “chipboard” that is made from pine trees grown in southwestern France. It is stated that the pine logs are cut and chipped into larger sized chip particles. Urea formaldehyde (UF), a thermosetting resin, is added to the wood particles, and then the mixture is formed into a layer through heat and pressure.

The Explanatory Notes to heading 44.10 describe the term particle board as follows:

Particle board is a flat product manufactured in various lengths, widths and thicknesses by pressing or extrusion. It is usually made from wood chips or particles obtained by the mechanical reduction of roundwood or wood residues. It may also be produced from other ligneous materials such as fragments obtained from bagasse, bamboo, cereal straw or from flax or hemp shives. Particle board is normally agglomerated by means of an added organic binder, usually a thermosetting resin, which generally does not exceed 15 % of the weight of the board.

The chips, particles or other fragments constituting the particle boards of this heading are usually recognisable at the edges of the board with the naked eye. However, in some cases, microscopic examination may be required to distinguish the particles and fragments from the ligno-cellulosic fibres characterising the fibreboard of heading 44.11.

Based on your explanation of the formulation of the “chipboard” and the submitted sample, we agree that the “chipboard” used as the core is a type of particle board.

The term “plywood” as is used in the heading 4412 and defined in the Explanatory Notes for heading 44.12 does not envision a product with a core of “chipboard.” Thus we agree that the subject flooring panels, as described above and as represented by the submitted sample, are not plywood for tariff purposes.

Heading 4412 provides for plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood. Although the subject wood flooring panels are not plywood, they are, nevertheless, a product of heading 4412, HTSUS. Specifically, the subject wood flooring panels are veneered panels.

The Explanatory Notes to heading 4412 state as follows:

Veneered panels, which are panels consisting of a thin veneer of wood affixed to a base, usually of inferior wood, by glueing under pressure.

The applicable subheading for the 14 mm engineered (laminated) wood flooring panels with an oak face and a “chipboard” core will be 4412.99.0600, HTSUS, which provides for plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood, other, other, with at least one outer ply of nonconiferous wood, containing at least one layer of particle board. The rate of duty will be free.

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

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Paul Garretto at 646-733-3035.


Robert B. Swierupski

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