The U.S. Customs and Border Protection office issued a ruling that proposes to reclassify imports of certain flowmeters. This could have customs duty payment implications for users and manufacturers of flowmeters who are importing equipment into the United States.

Customs Ruling HQ H028098 states that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends to revoke a ruling issued by CBP New York (NY R01762, April 26, 2005) and reclassify certain Mass Flow Controllers (MFC) from Harmonized Tariff Code category 8481 (which covers self-regulating valves) to category 9032.89.60 (covering automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus: Other: Other: Other: Flow and liquid level control instruments. (See HQ H029098).

In the old New York ruling, which is relied on by many flow control equipment companies and product importers, CBP classified Mass Flow Controllers (MFC) under 8481 as a combination of a valve and a measuring, checking or automatically controlling instrument or apparatus. Ruling HQ H028098 indicates that MFC belong under 9032.89.69 because the MFC is not only a measuring apparatus, but they also direct and analyze the flow, which is beyond the scope of category 8481. They also point out that the measuring instrument is not mounted directly on the control valve, as it must be in order for the device to be classified under 8481.

On first review, it appears the basic duty rate under the old ruling was 2 percent of value and under the new classification it is 1.7 percent of value.

Customs (CBP) has opened the issue for public comment until Jan. 10, 2010. To download a copy of the ruling, click here. (A PDF will download directly to your desktop. See pages 25-36.)

Written comments are to be addressed to Customs and Border Protection, Regulations and Rulings of the Office of International Trade, Attention: Commercial Trade and Regulations Branch, 799 9th Street, N.W., 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20229–1179.

Reporting for this article was provided by Eric McClafferty, a partner at the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. Mr. McClatterty can be reached at