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Metal Testing Products Ineligible for Duty-Free Treatment, CBP Rules

Metal finstock used to test machinery can't be considered articles eligible for testing eligible for duty-free Temporary Importation under Bond (TIB), CBP said in a recently released headquarters ruling.

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The ruling, H314204, came in response to a 3-year-old request by Burr Oak Tool for clarification as to whether its imported finstock -- which it described as a combination of flat-rolled stainless-steel products, copper plates, sheet or strip, and aluminum foil -- could be classified under the subheading 9813.00.30 as articles intended solely for testing, experimental or review purposes.

CBP said the materials in question were ineligible for the provision because they weren't tested themselves, but were instead used as an input to test Burr's machinery.

Burr selected finstock as a testing material because it knew that the finstock would perform as intended when processed by its machines, CBP said. "The sole unknown" in the entire process was whether Burr’s machines, as constructed, would stamp and cut the finstock as requested by its customers. The company doesn't know anything about the finstock after completion of its tests that it didn't know before those procedures, CBP said.

"Testing must be the primary purpose of the importation to qualify under subheading 9813.00.30," CBP said. The subheading says that articles must be entered “solely for testing,” but CBP noted that subjecting articles being tested to other uses is not prohibited as long as such uses are necessary or can reasonably be calculated to assist in the testing. However, in a 2001 ruling, CBP held that racecar engines imported for track testing and development didn't qualify because testing wasn't the primary purpose of the entries.

CBP noted it previously had ruled that testing materials weren't limited to "ritualized testing operations," but also extended to less rigorous procedures as long as they were "designed to yield information about the imported articles" that was unknown prior to completion of tests performed upon them.

Because the tests produced no new information about the finstock itself, the items were not test materials as described by the subheading, meaning that the finstock itself isn't tested by Burr, CBP said.