In ruling NY N323340 (January 13, 2022), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the classification and country of origin of fish smoker “starter kits.” The item comes packaged together for retail sale with a rack made of Poplar and Beech wood – measuring 13” x 11” x 33.5” high – three metal hooks, one biodegradable bag, a metal stand, and five smoke pins. Users can hang fish from the wooden rack using the metal hooks or lay the food items atop the wood dowel grill. The smoke pins are set below the rack on the metal stand and lit to create smoke while the bag is placed over the fish rack to trap a sufficient amount of smoke. The entire item is intended to be used outdoors in settings such as on a terrace, patio, balcony, and/or a campsite, and it can be used to smoke other foods such as meat, cheese, or vegetables.

First, in order to address the classification of the kit, CBP needed to determine if the item was considered a “set.” CBP noted that, under Explanatory Notes (EN) X to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b) in the U.S. tariff schedule, “set” is interpreted using the following definition:

  1. X) For the purposes of this Rule, the term “goods put up in sets for retail sale” shall be taken to mean goods which :

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings;

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and

(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to end users without repacking (e.g., in boxes or cases or on boards).

CBP noted that the item consists of multiple articles – the wood rack, metal hooks, smoke pins, biodegradable bag, and metal stand – that are classifiable under separate headings. CBP also noted that all the items are put together to serve the same, specific activity – which in this case is smoking fish or other foods. As such, the item would be considered a “set.”

Next, as noted under GRI 3(b), items that are considered sets for retail sale “shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.” CBP determined that the wooden racks give the set its essential character due to their predominate value and because they are an indispensable, reusable component. As such, CBP found that the applicable subheading for the fish smoker kits would be 4421.99.9780, HTSUS, which provides for “Other articles of wood:  Other:  Other:  Other:  Other:  Other.”  The rate of duty is 3.3% ad valorem

Finally, in order to determine the country of origin for entry purposes and marking, CBP needed to establish the country of origin for each article. In its ruling, CBP found that the items are manufactured in the following countries:

  • Wooden rack: Turkey
  • Smokepins: Germany
  • Steel Hooks: China
  • Biodegradable bags: Austria
  • Metal Stand: Denmark

Because the wooden rack is what gives the set its essential character for classification, CBP determined that the wooden rack would also be used as the item for country of origin. For entry purposes, CBP determined that the country of origin for the fish smoker kit would be Turkey. For marking purposes, CBP determined that Turkey, Germany, China, Austria, and Denmark would need to be marked for the entire set.