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Court Rules on Classification of Soft-Sided Pet Carriers

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade ruled Feb. 12 that cloth and mesh carrying bags used for transporting pets are not classifiable as travel, sports, and similar bags under HTSUS 4202.92.30 (17.6 percent duty). However, the court said the record is not sufficiently developed yet for it to determine whether the carriers are classifiable as other made up articles under HTSUS 6307.90.98 (seven percent duty).

Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 42 provides that the expression “travel, sports, and similar bags” means goods of a kind designed for carrying clothing and other personal effects during travel. The court finds that pets are not personal effects, which are generally defined as privately owned items that are regularly worn or carried on one’s person (e.g., keys, watches, wallets). While the U.S. argued that pets are personal property or effects of their owners and cited several cases in support of that contention, the CIT said those categories cover a much broader range of property than “personal effects.”

Similarly, the court said, because pets are living beings and not things or items (which the dictionary defines as inanimate objects), the carriers are not classified under heading 4202 by virtue of the so-called Avenues in Leather test, which focuses on whether the common characteristic or unifying purpose of a product consists of organizing, storing, protecting, and carrying various items. The fact that the carriers also have side pockets that could carry other items does not place the carriers under heading 4202, the court added, because the carriers’ primary purpose is inconsistent with that of the exemplars listed in that heading.

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