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Potential Duty Refunds on Battery Packs and Cell Phone Charger Cases

Monday, September 21, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Importers of various types of rechargeable battery packs will face higher tariffs beginning Oct. 5, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection revokes five rulings on the classification of these items. However, these revocations are not retroactive and will be effective for subject goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption on or after Oct. 5. As a result, importers of substantially similar goods that were classified other than under the currently applicable tariff numbers and entered before Oct. 5 may seek duty refunds on protestable entries of those items.

The rulings at issue apply to rechargeable battery packs, some of which are used for iPhones and other electronic devices and some of which are used to provide battery power to motor vehicles. In August 2006, CBP issued ruling HQ 968226 to revoke a previous ruling classifying these items under HTSUS heading 8507 according to their battery function and instead classified them as static converters under HTSUS heading 8504 pursuant to their charging function. CBP is now reversing its position and reclassifying these items as electric storage batteries under HTSUS subheading 8507.60.00 (3.4 percent duty).

The following rulings, most of which classified the subject items under HTSUS subheading 8504.40.85 (duty-free), are explicitly being revoked.

- NY N231545: car/wall charger and charging kit with li-polymer rechargeable battery

- NY N232914: battery charger and li-polymer rechargeable battery built into iPhone 4/4S protective case

- NY N233902: li-polymer rechargeable battery enclosed in plastic protective case for iPhone 4/4S

- NY N233370: li-polymer rechargeable battery and paging alarm built into protective case for iPhone 4/4S

- NY N004618: portable rechargeable power station and portable power and air station used to jump start car batteries

Interestingly, ruling HQ 968226 classifying these goods under heading 8504 is not one of the five rulings identified. However, CBP notes that the revocations cover any rulings on this merchandise as well as any treatment previously accorded to substantially identical transactions.  It is therefore likely that CBP will consider at least several other rulings to be effectively revoked despite not being explicitly identified. Importers should be cautious in relying on any rulings that seem similar to the five listed above.

At the same time, importers of substantially similar goods that were classified other than under heading 8504 upon entry have an opportunity to seek reclassification under heading 8504. 

For more information on responding to this development in a manner that bests suits your business, please contact Nina Mohseni at (312) 279-2838.

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