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CBP Proposes to Modify Classification of Self-Propelled Modular Transporters

Monday, February 16, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs is proposing to revoke rulings HQ H122237, HQ H123524, NY 086210, HQ 955231 and HQ 952400 pertaining to the classification of self-propelled modular transporters.

SPMTs are multi-axle machines designed for the purpose of raising, moving and positioning very large, multi-ton payloads such as bridge segments, portions of ship hulls and oil rig constructions. SPMTs feature a series of wheel bogies attached in pairs along a modular, rigid trailer to form the length of the transporter. Hydraulic lift cylinders are mounted on each of the wheel bogies and equip the machine with lifting capabilities as well as independent suspension over uneven terrain. Because of their slow maximum speed and heavy weight, load-carrying SPMTs are not operated on roads or highways without first closing the operations area to public traffic. Similarly, unladen SPMTs are not certified for use on public roadways but instead are typically delivered to worksites on tractor trailers. Although optional driver’s cabins are often available for attachment to SPMT vehicles, the machines are frequently controlled by a pedestrian operator via tethered or remote radio frequency controls.

CBP previously classified SPMTs as motor vehicles for the transport of goods under HTSUS 8704.23.00 (25 percent duty) or self-propelled works trucks under HTSUS 8709.19.00 (duty-free). CBP now believes SPMTs are classified as other self-propelled trucks under subheading 8427.20.80 (duty-free).

CBP explains that while SPMTs are properly described as works trucks, their independent suspension and cargo elevating functions constitute lifting or handling equipment. The SPMTs thus do not fall under the scope of heading 8709, which excludes works trucks not fitted with such equipment, and are properly classified under heading 8427, which specifically covers works trucks that are fitted with such equipment.

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