Main Idea: CBP has long history of limiting classification of items as furniture in chapter 94, HTSUS, to articles used by humans.

A variety of factors impact a product’s classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).  However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has long demonstrated that the most important factor in determining whether an item qualifies as furniture under chapter 94, HTSUS, is whether the product was made for use by humans. This longstanding position emerged once again in ruling N330077 (Jan. 17, 2023), where CBP reviewed the tariff classification of a reptile enclosure from China.

The reptile habit enclosure at issue was specifically designed for housing a pet reptile within a person’s home. It was constructed from medium density fiberboard (MDF) panels that were laminated on both sides with bamboo veneers.  The enclosure also featured aluminum framing and a clear acrylic front panel/door that would allow individuals to view the animal in the enclosure.

In its ruling request, the importer proposed that the enclosure be classified under subheading 9403.82.0015, HTSUS, which provides for “Other furniture and parts thereof, Furniture of other materials, including cane, osier, bamboo and similar materials: Of bamboo: Other household.”  CBP disagreed, asserting that “CBP has a long history of limiting furniture in chapter 94, HTSUS, to articles that are used by humans and otherwise meet the definition of furniture.”  Further, CBP cited numerous prior rulings where it declined to classify products similar to the reptile enclosure products under chapter 94, HTSUS, stating that “furniture is specifically limited to such items used by humans.”    

Concluding its analysis, CBP further explained that while chapter 94, HTSUS, does not cover household structures for animals, chapter 44, HTSUS does.  More specifically, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the HTSUS, which provide the official interpretation of tariffs at the international level, specifically included animal wood enclosures in heading 4421, HTSUS.  The ENs for heading 4421 notes that the heading includes, in relevant part, “Rabbit-hutches, hen‑coops, bee‑hives, cages, kennels, troughs; yokes for livestock.”  As such, CBP determined that the applicable heading for the reptile habit enclosures would be 4421.91.9880, HTSUS, which provides for “Other articles of wood: Other: Of bamboo: Other: Other:” The rate of duty is 3.3% ad valorem.