CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953313 MBR
Mr. Douglas M. McNeill
Sharp Microelectronics Technology, Inc.
5700 NW Pacific Rim Boulevard
Camas, Washington 98607
RE: Sharp Microelectronics Technology, Inc.; Liquid Crystal
Display; LCD; ADP Output Display; Incomplete; Unassembled;
8531; 8471; 9013; HQ 952246; HQ 951609; HQ 951288; HQ 952360;
E.M. Chemicals v. United States
Dear Mr. McNeill:
This is our reply to your letter of January 12, 1993, on
behalf of Sharp Microelectronics Technology, Inc. ("Sharp"),
requesting classification of incomplete, unassembled Liquid Crystal
Displays (LCDs) for ADP output units, under the Harmonized Tariff
Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).
The instant importation is incomplete (missing only the bezel
and screws) and unassembled. It consists of the following
components for an automatic data processing machine (ADP) flat
panel display: 1) a passive matrix LCD crystal cell; 2) Large Scale
Integration (LSI) chips (20 or 21 depending on the LCD); 3) printed
wiring boards; 4) two jumper connectors.
After importation, the components are assembled with a bezel
made of plastic or metal. The assembly process in the U.S.
requires three simple steps using solder and heat sensitive
The merchandise will not be shipped in "kits." However, each
importation will consist of the components for 1200 display units.
The components of each shipment are intended for assembly to each
other, and are not bulk shipments of inventory parts.
Are the instant LCD ADP output modules classified under
heading 8531, HTSUS, which provides for electric sound or visual
signaling apparatus, or under heading 8471, HTSUS, which provides
for ADP output devices, or under heading 9013, HTSUS, which
provides for liquid crystal devices?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS
govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1
states, in pertinent part:
...classification shall be determined according to the terms
of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...
Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are prima facie classifiable
under the following subheadings:
8531 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example,
bells, sirens, indicator panels...
8531.20.00 Indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal
devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
9013 Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for
more specifically in other headings
9013.80.60 Other devices, appliances and instruments: Other
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
8471 Automatic data processing machines and units thereof
8471.92.80 Other: Input or output units...: Other: Other: Units
suitable for physical incorporation into automatic
data processing machines or units thereof
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Heading 8531, HTSUS, provides for electric sound or visual
signaling apparatus. Therefore, to be classifiable in this
heading, the apparatus must be designed for "signaling."
Therefore, only those LCDs which are limited by design and function
to that of "signaling," are classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS.
E.M. Chemicals v. United States, Appeal No. 90-1141, Cust.
Bul. Vol. 24, No. 51, (1990), 13 CIT 849, 728 F. Supp. 723 (1989),
held that under the TSUS, liquid crystals were classifiable under
item 685.70 (the predecessor provision to heading 8531, HTSUS).
However, there has been a significant change in the relevant tariff
provisions under the HTSUS. In fact, heading 9013, HTSUS, which
provides for LCDs specifically, is a new provision under the HTSUS.
Furthermore, LCDs have been technologically developed for a myriad
of uses, many of which cannot be said to be for "signaling
Automatic Data Processing machine LCD flat panel displays
(laptop and notebook computer displays) typically exhibit the
following characteristics: a pixel configuration of 640 X 480, a
dot pitch of from .27 to .30mm, a thin profile, light weight, a
specific liquid crystal material mix (150 to 200 milliseconds
response time signal to signal), and low power consumption (5V).
Due to the specific ADP design of the instant importation (640
x 480 pixel configuration, dot pitch of 0.27, response time, light
weight, profile, etc.), and principal use of these Sharp LCD
modules for ADP output, they cannot be classified under heading
8531, which provides for "signalling apparatus." See HQ 951288,
dated July 7, 1992, for a protest decision regarding Epson LCDs.
The instant LCD components will be imported without the bezel,
which is in essence a frame which provides support and protection
for the LCD. However, the bezel is not necessary for the LCD to
function. All of the necessary electronics for the LCD are
imported in the same shipment. GRI 2(a) provides guidance for the
classification of incomplete and unfinished articles. It states,
in pertinent part:
Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to
include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished,
provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished
article has the essential character of the complete or
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the HTSUS, regarding GRI 2(a), state in
pertinent part as follows:
(V) The second part of Rule 2 (a) provides that complete
or finished articles presented unassembled or
disassembled are to be classified in the same
heading as the assembled article. When goods are
so presented, it is usually for reasons such as
requirements or convenience of packing, handling or
transport. (Emphasis added).
(VI) This Rule also applies to incomplete or unfinished
articles presented unassembled or disassembled
provided that they are to be treated as complete or
finished articles by virtue of the first part of
(VII) For the purposes of this Rule, "articles presented
unassembled or disassembled" means articles the
components of which are to be assembled either by
means of simple fixing devices (screws, nuts, bolts,
etc.) or by riveting or welding, for example,
provided only simple assembly operations are
Unassembled components of an article which are
in excess of the number required for that article
when complete are to be classified separately.
The importer states that these components are shipped
unassembled to avoid what would otherwise be a high damage rate.
Therefore, it can be said that these displays are presented
unassembled for the convenience of "packing, handling or
transport." Furthermore, the displays are completed with only the
addition of the bezel and some screws ("fixing devices"), requiring
only simple assembly operations.
Therefore, pursuant to GRI 2(a), it is Customs position that
an importation in this configuration has the essential character
of 1200 finished or complete ADP LCDs, which are classifiable under
subheading 8471.92.30, HTSUS, which provides for ADP output display
units without cathode-ray tube (CRT), having a visual display
diagonal not exceeding 30.5 cm. See HQ 951609, dated October 20,
1992, for a decision regarding ADP LCD glass sandwiches, which were
not classifiable as unfinished ADP output units because they lacked
the essential character of the finished display. For other rulings
regarding LCDs, see HQ 952246, dated November 10, 1992, HQ 951868,
dated October 31, 1992, HQ 952360, dated October 15, 1992, and HQ
951288, dated July 7, 1992.
A question has arisen regarding the interpretation of HQ
951511, dated June 1, 1992, regarding the classification of
unassembled articles imported in different containers. However,
HQ 951511 still requires that the articles to be considered
together as an unassembled good are entered in the same
importation. Therefore, they do not have to be in the same
container, box, crate, kit, etc., but only in the same importation.
Furthermore, Customs has consistently held that bulk shipments of
inventory are not to be considered unassembled goods, even if it
would be possible to assemble them together into one or more
Section XVI, Legal Note 1(m) states that: "[t]his section does
not cover: [a]rticles of chapter 90." Heading 9013, HTSUS,
provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles
provided for more specifically in other headings." Therefore,
since the Sharp ADP LCD Modules are provided for more specifically
in another heading, they are not to be classifiable in heading
Therefore, generally speaking, unless a principal use for
signalling (heading 8531, HTSUS), or principal use as an ADP output
unit (heading 8471, HTSUS) can be established satisfactorily either
by design limitation or other reliable means, LCD displays are
classifiable in subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, which provides for:
"[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for
more specifically in other headings: [o]ther devices, appliances
and instruments: [o]ther."
The Sharp Microelectronics Technology, Inc., unfinished,
unassembled, liquid crystal display modules for ADP output displays
are classifiable in subheading 8471.92.30, HTSUS, which provides
for: "[a]utomatic data processing machines and units thereof:
[o]ther: [i]nput or output units, whether or not entered with the
rest of a system and whether or not containing storage units in the
same housing: [o]ther: [d]isplay units: [w]ithout cathode-ray tube
(CRT), having a visual display diagonal not exceeding 30.5 cm."
The rate of duty is Free.
John Durant, Director