CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 954945 RFA
Mr. Edward Woehr
Subaru-Isuzu Automotive Inc.
5500 State Road 38 East
P.O. Box 5689
Lafayette, IN 47903
RE: Combination Lamp Assemblies for Motor Vehicles; Finished and
Unfinished; Visual Signaling Equipment; Other Lighting
Equipment; Essential Character; EN 85.12; GRIs 2(a) and
3(b); HQ 951511, modified; HQs 087078 and 086940, revoked
Dear Mr. Woehr:
In an undated letter to the Regional Commissioner of Customs
in New York, you inquired as to the tariff classification of
combination lamp assemblies under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule
of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was referred to this
office for a response.
The merchandise is finished rear combination lamp assemblies
for motor vehicles which perform the following functions: rear
end illumination for night driving; turn signaling; brake
lighting; hazard signaling; and illumination in reverse gear.
The light bulbs (i.e., lamps) are already incorporated into the
sockets in their imported condition. The components of the rear
right or left hand lamp assemblies include: right or left hand
complete sockets; bulbs; packing/rear combination lamp; right or
left hand end rubber; and right or left hand complete lens and
Are finished rear combination lamp assemblies for motor
vehicles classifiable as visual signaling equipment or as
lighting equipment under the HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in
accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's),
taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be
determined according to the terms of the headings and any
relative section or chapter notes.
The following subheadings are under consideration:
8512.20: Electrical lighting or signaling equipment . . .:
[o]ther lighting or visual signaling equipment:
8512.20.20: Lighting equipment
8512.20.40: Visual signaling equipment
You indicate that the lamp assemblies are provided for in
subheading 8512.20.20, HTSUS, based upon the holdings in HQ
087078, dated November 29, 1990, and HQ 086940, dated August 6,
1990. In HQ 086940, Customs held that motor vehicle wiring
harnesses comprised of insulated wires fitted with lamp sockets
for use as headlights, taillights, dashboard lamps, interior
lamps and other illumination and signaling fixtures were
classifiable as parts of vehicle lighting equipment under
subheading 8512.90.60, HTSUS. The rationale for classification
as a part of vehicle lighting equipment was that wiring harnesses
fitted with lamps did not have the essential character of
complete vehicle lighting equipment because it did not
incorporate a reflective casing or lens.
In HQ 951511, dated June 1, 1992, Customs classified motor
vehicle wiring harnesses imported with lamps (packaged
separately) for various types of lighting and signaling
functions, based upon GRI 2(a), as unassembled motor vehicle
lighting equipment and visual signaling equipment under
subheadings 8512.20.20 and 8512.20.40, HTSUS, respectively.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Cooperation
Council's official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not
legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of
each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the
proper interpretation of these headings. EN 85.12, pages 1349-
1350, states as follows:
This heading covers electrical apparatus and appliances
specialized for use on cycles or motor vehicles for
lighting or signaling purposes. . . .
(4) Side lamps; tail lamps; parking lamps; licence
(5) Braking lights, direction indication lights,
reversing lamps and the like.
(6) Combinations of some of the above-mentioned lamps,
assembled in one casing.
The subject merchandise is a combination of lighting
equipment and visual signaling equipment. It is prima facie
classifiable under two competing subheadings under heading 8512,
HTSUS. Because classification in a single heading cannot be
determined by applying GRI 1, we must apply the other GRI's. GRI
2(a) is not applicable here because the merchandise is not
incomplete or unfinished. GRI 2(b) states that if a product is a
combination of materials or substances that are, prima facie,
classifiable in two or more headings, then GRI 3 applies.
GRI 3(a) states that if a product is classifiable in two or
more headings by application of GRI 2(b), then the
heading which provides the most specific description
shall be preferred to headings providing a more general
description. However, when two or more headings each
refer to part only of the materials or substances
contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only
of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those
headings are to be regarded as equally specific in
relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a
more complete or precise description of the goods.
Because the combination lamp assembly falls under separate
headings in the tariff schedule which describe only a portion of
the merchandise, the headings are to be regarded as equally
specific under GRI 3(a). Therefore, GRI 3(a) fails in
establishing classification, and GRI 3(b) becomes applicable.
GRI 3(b) provides that composite goods consisting of different
materials or made up of different components, shall be classified
as if they consisted of the material or component which gives
them their essential character. EN IX to GRI 3(b), page 4,
[f]or the purposes of this Rule, composite goods made
up of different components shall be taken to mean not
only those in which the components are attached to each
other to form a practically inseparable whole but also
those with separable components, provided these
components are adapted one to the other and are
mutually complementary and that together they form a
whole which would not normally be offered for sale in
separate parts. (emphasis in original)
Because the item is a composite good, we must determine
which component provides the essential character. EN VIII to GRI
3(b), page 4, states that the factors will
vary as between different kinds of goods to determine
the essential character of an article. It may, for
example, be determined by the nature of the material or
component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by
the role of a constituent material in relation to the
use of the goods.
The combination lamp assembly provides some rear end
illumination for night driving. However, the lamp assembly also
serves as a brake light, turn signal light, and a hazard light.
These latter functions perform as visual signaling equipment.
Therefore, we find that the essential character of the finished
combination lamp assembly is the signaling function, provided for
under subheading 8512.20.40, HTSUS.
In making the above determination we find that the holding
in HQ 951511 needs to be modified to provide that the unassembled
wiring harnesses for motor vehicles are to be classified as
unfinished lighting or signaling equipment pursuant to GRI 2(a).
We further find that the holdings in HQ 087078 and HQ 086940
need to be revoked insofar as they classified motor vehicle
wiring harnesses with lamps, but not incorporating a reflective
casing or lenses as parts of motor vehicle lighting equipment.
Based upon the above analysis of the subject merchandise, we find
that the subject merchandise in HQ 087078 and HQ 086940 to be
classified as unfinished lighting or signaling equipment pursuant
to GRI 2(a).
The rear combination lamp assemblies for motor vehicles are
classifiable under subheading 8512.20.40, HTSUS, which provides
for: other visual signaling equipment. The general, column one
rate of duty is 2.7 percent ad valorem.
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
HQ 951511, dated June 1, 1992, no longer reflects the
position of Customs Service and is modified in HQ 955377, of this
date, pursuant to section 177.9(d) of the Customs Regulations [19
HQ 086940, dated August 6, 1990, and HQ 087078, dated
November 29, 1990, no longer reflects the position of Customs
Service and are revoked in HQs 955378 and 955379, of this date,
respectively, pursuant to section 177.9(d) of the Customs
Regulations [19 CFR 177.9(d)].
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division