Customs Ruling of the Week – Classification of Bird Feeders – International Trade and Investment

In NY Decision N327871 (September 12, 2022), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determines the tariff classification of bird feeders from China. CBP is reviewing three specific products: Snacks’ N’ Treats Single Hanging Feeder (#38200), Copper Acorn Tube (#38288), and Grande Squirrel Resistant Feeder (#50153). All three products are made primarily of plastic and steel components and are designed for outdoor use.

The Snacks’ N’ Treats Single Hanging Feeder (#38200) is a curved black metal hanger with a hook at the top and an open square bottom with a blue plastic feeding dish inside the insert at the bottom open. The basin is made of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and the frame arm and hook are both made of steel.

The Copper Acorn Tube (#38288) is a bronze colored cylindrical bird feeder. This item contains a 10 inch polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic tube and a threaded pole and aluminum finial. The bird feeder also includes a four inch tube lock ring, wire shape retainer, roof, roof locator ring, threaded support pole, hanger nut wire shape , base locator ring, base, portal and port cover – all of which are made of steel. The plastic feeding tube contains a steel cover and a steel base. A plastic wrapped flexible cable loop is attached to the steel top cover so that the product can be hung. There are two ports where birds can perch on the feeder.


The Large Squirrel Resistant Cage Feeder (#50153) is a bronze colored cylindrical bird feeder. There are four ports where birds can perch on the feeder. The feeder is designed to be squirrel-proof, so the spring-loaded perch closes all ports simultaneously when the weight of a squirrel or larger bird lands on the perches or lid. The product contains a PVC plastic tube. The new base, gate, new roof, cage, top roof, deep wire retainer, threaded rod, roof lock nut and oval ring are all steel. The plastic feeding tube is inside the steel feeding cage, and a steel hook is attached to the upper steel cover so that the product can be hung.


Classification according to the HTSUS begins with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), which apply in sequential order. Under GRI 1, the terms of the headings and any related section or chapter notes will determine the classification. covers bird feeders of all three materials, therefore GRI 1 cannot determine the classification.

According to GRI 2(b), goods composed of more than one material or substance are classified according to the principles of GRI 3. In the relevant part, GRI3(b) requires that composite goods made of different components or materials be classified “as if they consist of the material or the element which gives them their essential character. The bird feeders in question, made of steel, aluminum and plastic, are composite products and GRI 3(b) applies. Therefore, the component that gives the essential character to each feeder will determine the classification.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to GRI 3(b) explain that “The factor that determines essentiality will vary between different types of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its volume, the quantity, weight or use of the goods.” CBP further clarifies that the role of the constituent materials in how the product is used will confer essentiality.

In this case, CBP determines that the function of the steel and aluminum brackets provide structure to the feeder and that the steel components also provide the greatest value and volume to both bird feeders. Therefore, steel components lend the essential character to bird feeders made up of steel and plastic.

As described above, the Copper Acorn Tube (#38288) is made of more than one metal: steel and aluminum, which fall under different chapters of the HTSUS. According to Section XV, Note 7 of the HTSUS, “Classification of base metal articles containing two or more base metals shall be treated as articles of the base metal which predominates by weight over each of the other metals.” In the Copper Acord Tube, steel predominates by weight. Therefore, the Copper Acorn Tube is classified under heading 7323, HTSUS, which covers iron or steel household articles.

CBP has ruled that the applicable subheading for Snacks’ N’ Treats Simple Hanging Feeder (#38200), Acorn Copper Tube Feeder (#38288), and Large Squirrel Resistant Feeder (#50153) is 7323.99.9080, HTSUS, which provides “Tableware, kitchenware or other household articles and parts thereof, of iron or steel…other, other, not coated or clad with precious metal, other, other, other.” This provision carries a 3.4% ad valorem.

Finally, the bird feeders in issue are of Chinese origin and, therefore, are subject to additional customs duties. “Per US Note 20 to Sub-Chapter III, Chapter 99, HTSUS, Chinese goods classified under subheading 7323.99.9080, HTSUS, unless specifically excluded, are subject to a surcharge of 25 % ad valorem rate of duty.” Importers must also declare the appropriate subheading of Chapter 99, 9903.88.03.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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