Potential Duty Savings Opportunity

Dear Friends:

I am writing to let you know about a favorable tariff classification ruling we recently obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection for one of our clients that may be of benefit to you.

U.S. Customs determined that certain surgical microscopes satisfy the legal requirements of a special classification provision set out in Chapter 98 of the HTS, and are thus eligible for duty-free treatment upon importation into the United States.  The provision at issue, subheading 9817.00.96, HTS, provides in relevant part for “articles specially designed or adapted for use or benefit of the blind or other physically or mentally handicapped persons.”

In short, we were successful in establishing that the microscopes, which are used to perform ear, nose & throat (ENT) and dental surgery, are specially-designed for the benefit of “physically handicapped persons,” a term defined in the tariff as “any person suffering from a permanent or chronic physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities . . . .”  U.S. Customs agreed that the microscopes are specially-designed and principally used for the benefit of the handicapped (specifically, persons suffering permanent/chronic physical conditions that require surgery), and that, if left untreated, those medical conditions substantially limit a person’s ability to hear, breathe, sleep and/or eat.

This special classification provision has been interpreted broadly by U.S. Customs over the years.   As a result, if you import dutiable healthcare products, it may be worthwhile considering whether any would potentially qualify for duty-free treatment under subheading 9817.00.96, HTS (i.e., whether they are specially-designed for the benefit of persons suffering from permanent/chronic and substantially life-limiting conditions).

We have a great deal of experience advising clients on tariff classification issues.  If you have any questions about the ruling discussed above, or if you would like to discuss whether any of your products can potentially qualify for duty-free treatment, please let us know.

Best regards,