When is an Aircraft Part NOT an Aircraft Part? When it is Imported! (Part 3 of 3)

There are some parts in aviation that may be imported but that cannot be characterized under the harmonized tariff code “8803.10.00.30” (which is normally the most common code used by most ASA members who are importing aircraft parts).  This article addresses those aircraft parts that are assigned different codes under the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (USHTS).

This is the third in a series of articles discussing import into the United States of aircraft parts. Last week we explained the basics of import classifications of aircraft parts under the USHTS. Today, we will look more closely at the exceptions which drive some aircraft parts to unexpected places in the harmonized tariff code.

U.S. import law applies to goods that enter the customs territory of the United States. Each such part must be classified correctly in order to assess the tariff status of the part. Most aircraft parts will fall within the scope of the Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft, which provides for the duty-free entry of civil aircraft and their parts into signatory nations (including the United States); most commercial airplane parts imported by U.S. repair stations will be described as by harmonized tariff code 8803.30.00.30. But there are significant exceptions to this provision, and there is a significant minority of commercial airplane parts that may not be classified under the “aircraft parts” provisions of this Agreement.

Most exceptions apply to parts. Generally, parts or accessories which are not suitable for use solely or principally with aircraft will not be considered aircraft parts. So a lamp which is used 95% of the time in buildings and 5% of the time in aircraft will not be considered an aircraft part for purposes of import tariff categorization, because its principal use is for non-aviation purposes. In addition the following categories of parts are generally NOT considered to fall under the aircraft parts provisions for import purposes:

  • Joints, washers or the like of any material (classified according to their constituent material or in heading 8484);
  • Articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber (articles of heading 4016);
  • Tools (articles of chapter 82);
  • Pictures and mirrors (articles of heading 8306);
  • Most items of nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances, including machine tools and engines, pumps and tools used in nuclear power generation (articles of headings 8401 to 8479);
  • Engines or motor parts consisting of taps, cocks, and valves for pipes or ball or roller bearings (articles of heading 8481 or 8482);
  • Transmission shafts and cranks, bearing housings, housed bearings and plain shaft bearings, gears and gearing, ball or roller screws, and gear boxes (articles of heading 8483);
  • Electrical machinery or equipment (chapter 85);
  • Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments (articles of chapter 90);
  • Clocks and watches (articles of chapter 91);
  • Bombs, missiles ,or other arms (chapter 93);
  • Lamps or lighting fittings (articles of heading 9405); or
  • Brushes of a kind used as parts of vehicles (heading 9603).
  • Parts of general use (wires and cables, chains, tube or pipe fittings, locks, clasps, springs, castors, automatic door-closers, mountings, frames, mirrors, sign plates or other placards, washers, certain fasteners (like nails, tacks, drawing pins, staples, screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, and cotter pins), and closures like buckles or hooks) made from metal (including articles of section XV and certain heading sunder chapters 73 and 83) or plastic (articles of chapter 39);

Note that the descriptions in this article are altered to make them more understandable to the layman but they ARE NOT the technical language and any questions should be answered from the actual technical language of the tariff code. The chapter, section and heading numbers are for reference only – to facilitate review of appropriate language.

Another exception would apply to foreign parts. Under US regulations (19 CFR 10.183) the duty-free provision applies only to parts manufactured under (1) FAA approval or (2) foreign approval that is recognized by the FAA as equivalent (e.g. under a bilateral agreement). Thus, parts made under foreign production approval where there is no corollary US approval would not be accorded duty-free treatment into the US because they are not recognized as valid aircraft parts under US regulations. This is unlikely to apply to most US repair station stations but it could apply in certain limited cases (such as where the repair station is doing work on foreign-produced aircraft that do not have a US type certificate).

Finally, the normal aviation provisions do not apply to things that look like aircraft but are not aircraft, like reduced scale models (e.g. radio controlled aircraft or other articles under heading 9503) and “aircraft” carnival rides (articles under heading 9508).

If you are importing into the U.S. an article that fits into one of these above-mentioned categories, please make sure that you do not improperly characterize is under the tariff code 8803.10.00.30!

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.

One Response to When is an Aircraft Part NOT an Aircraft Part? When it is Imported! (Part 3 of 3)

  1. Pingback: Don’t Panic: Why the Election Results Should Not Undermine Aviation Business | MARPA

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