Monday, June 22, 2009

Classification of Gaskets

Last Monday, we introduced our new series of weekly blog articles featuring various classification topics. This week, we will explore the classification of gaskets.

Classification of gaskets would be simple if the HTSUS contained one provision for gaskets. Because gaskets are made of various materials and have multiple uses, a gasket could be classified in one of more than a dozen provisions provided in the HTSUS. So where do we begin?

The first step is to determine if the article being classified is actually a gasket. Gaskets, washers and other seals can be easily confused. Gaskets form a seal by being compressed between stationary parts where liquid or gas could pass. Most gaskets are manufactured to be used only once and are made of materials such as cork, rubber, paper and various metals.

For the second step, we need to determine the composition of the gasket. Is our gasket made of paper or plastic? Gaskets may be found in some of the following HTS Chapters.

Cork – Chapter 45
Plastic – Chapter 39
Rubber – Chapter 40
Paper – Chapter 48
Textile – Chapter 59
Asbestos – Chapter 68
Metal – Chapters 84 73 74 76

As you can see from the examples in Chapter 40, there may be several provisions for the gaskets within each Chapter. This leads us to the third step, which is to determine how the gasket is used. While the composition is critical to the classification, the use may also affect the classification. For example, Chapter 40 breaks out gaskets based on the type of rubber and how the gasket is used. Profile shapes, such as gaskets used around windows and doors, are often considered profile shapes and classified under 4008. Gaskets made of cellular rubber are found in 4016.10.00. Gaskets of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber and used in automotive goods of Chapter 87 are found in 4016.93.10. If the gaskets are vulcanized but are used in other goods, they are classified as 4016.93.50.

Our fourth step shows the importance of reading the Section and Chapter Notes for any special rules concerning gaskets. For example, consider a plastic gasket for use solely with an oil pan drain plug for an automotive engine classified in Chapter 84.

Gaskets made of plastics are described in subheading 3926.90.45, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of plastics…gaskets, washers and other seals. This subheading falls under the heading for other articles of plastics in 3926. When comparing headings, a heading for “parts” is more specific than a heading for “other articles.” Therefore, gaskets of plastics are classifiable in an appropriate provision for parts, unless there is exclusionary language that prevents classification as parts.

Reading the notes to Chapter 39, we find an exclusion in Legal Note 2(p). This note excludes articles of Section XVI (which includes Chapters 84 and 85) from classification in Chapter 39. Since our plastic gasket is solely for use with the engine oil pan in Chapter 84, it is classifiable as parts of the articles in Chapter 84.

Classification of gaskets is complicated and depends on the material composition and use of the gasket. Remember, binding rulings and Informed Compliance Publications can be great resources when classifying difficult items.

Click HERE to view a CBP Ruling on gaskets.
HERE to view CBP’s Informed Compliance Publication on Gaskets.

Join us next week as we tackle another challenging classification issue. If you have any specific commodities or sections of the HTSUS that you would like to see discussed in this series, please feel free to post a comment or send your suggestions to

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