CLA-2 R:C:M 957722 LTO
Mr. Dennis Heck
Tower Group International
5420 West 104th Street
Los Angeles, California 90045-6069
RE: Automotive Rear View Monitoring System; CCD cameras;
television monitor; mounting brackets; HQ 087404; GRI 3(c);
composite good; EN to GRI 3(b); Section XVI, note 4
Dear Mr. Heck:
This is in response to your letter of February 3, 1995,
requesting, on behalf of Vivitar Corporation, the classification
of an automotive rear view monitoring system and components
thereof under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
The article in question is the SMS-7 Automotive Rear View
Monitoring System (#056439). The system is used on buses, trucks
and recreational vehicles to allow the driver to have a complete
view of the road by eliminating blind spots. The system consists
of the SMC-701 CCD Camera and Weather-Proof Housing/Mounting
Bracket (#056445), the SMS-7R 7" Monitor with Mounting Bracket
(#056447) and the GMB-1 Mounting Bracket (#056465). The system
may also include an optional RSMC-701M Mirror/CCD Camera
The CCD camera incorporates a condenser microphone for
hands-free video and audio capability. The camera utilizes
solid-state electronic technology and incorporates a charge-
coupled device (CCD), which is a semiconductor containing a grid
of photosensitive cells, or pixels. As the image-forming light
of an object is focused onto the grid, each pixel receives a
certain quantity of light, which is translated into an electrical
charge. The result is a pattern of electrical charges which
represents an image. The electrical charges are subsequently - 2 -
processed into magnetic analog signals for processing and
The black and white video monitor has a 7 inch (17.78 cm
visual display diagonal) flat, cathode ray tube (CRT) with a
built-in condenser microphone. The mounting bracket is made of
steel and is used to mount the rear vision camera and housing to
the vehicle. The optional rearview mirror/camera mounts over the
existing mirror and has a built-in condenser microphone.
Whether the Automotive Rear View Monitoring System is
classifiable according to General Rule of Interpretation 3,
HTSUS, under heading 8525, HTSUS, which provides for television
transmission apparatus, or under heading 8528, HTSUS, which
provides for television receivers (including video monitors).
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, that "for legal purposes,
classification shall be determined according to the terms of the
headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ."
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Co-operation
Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System.
While not legally binding, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs
provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the
Harmonized System, and are generally indicative of the proper
interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg.
35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).
The Automotive Rear View Monitoring System consists of a CCD
camera, a black and white video monitor and various brackets used
for mounting purposes. The system may also include an additional
CCD camera (rearview mirror/camera).
The CCD cameras are prima facie classifiable under heading
8525, HTSUS, which provides for transmission apparatus for
television, while the video monitor is prima facie classifiable
under heading 8528, HTSUS, which provides for television
receivers (including video monitors). There is no single heading
that covers all of the components of this system.
GRI 3, HTSUS, governs the classification of goods that are,
prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings. GRI 3(a)
requires the heading which provides the most specific description
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shall be preferred to headings providing a more general
description. However, when two or more headings each refer to
part only of the components contained in a composite good, those
headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to
those goods. Headings 8525 and 8528, HTSUS, refer to part only
of the components of the Automotive Rear View Monitoring System.
Accordingly, no heading provides a specific description of the
GRI 3(b), HTSUS, provides that "composite goods consisting
of different materials or made up of different components, . . .
which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be
classified as if they consisted of the material or component
which gives them their essential character, insofar as this
criterion is applicable." The monitoring system consists of
components which are separable but can be attached by cables.
The components are "adapted one to the other and are mutually
complementary," in that they form a system that is designed to
allow the driver of a bus, truck or recreational vehicle, to have
a complete view of the road. See EN to GRI 3(b), pg. 4.
Moreover, as the monitor and camera(s) are combined with mounting
brackets and/or housings, "the design and intended use of these
components would prevent them from normally being sold
separately." See HQ 087404, dated December 7, 1990. Thus, the
Automotive Rear View Monitoring System is a GRI 3(b) composite
good, and it is classifiable as if consisting of the component
which gives the system its "essential character."
It is our opinion that the monitor and camera(s) play an
equal role in relation to the use of the system, and that neither
gives the system its essential character. Thus, it is necessary
to resort to GRI 3(c), which states that "[w]hen goods cannot be
classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified
under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among
those which equally merit consideration." Accordingly, the
Automotive Rear View Monitoring System is classifiable under
heading 8528, HTSUS, specifically under subheading 8528.20.00,
HTSUS, which provides for black or white video monitors.
If imported separately, the cameras would be classified
under subheading 8525.30.90, HTSUS, which provides for other
television cameras. The monitor would be classified under
subheading 8528.20.00, HTSUS, and the mounting bracket would be
classified under subheading 8302.30.30, HTSUS, which provides for
other steel mountings for motor vehicles.
Finally, we note that the Automotive Rear View Monitoring
System cannot be classified according to note 4 to section XVI,
HTSUS, as a "functional unit." While the system does consist of
individual components, interconnected by electric cables or other
devices, the components do not "contribute together to a clearly
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defined function covered by one of the headings in chapter 84 or
chapter 85 . . . (emphasis added)."
The SMS-7 Automotive Rear View Monitoring System is
classifiable, according to GRI 3(c), under subheading 8528.20.00,
HTSUS, which provides for black or white video monitors. The
corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 5%
If imported separately, the SMC-701 CCD Camera and Weather-
Proof Housing/Mounting Bracket and the RSMC-701 Mirror/CCD Camera
are classifiable under subheading 8525.30.90, HTSUS, which
provides for other television cameras (3.8% ad valorem). The
SMS-7R 7" Monitor with Mounting Bracket is classifiable under
subheading 8528.20.00, HTSUS 5% ad valorem). The GMB-1 Mounting
Bracket is classifiable under subheading 8302.30.30, HTSUS, which
provides for other steel mountings for motor vehicles (2.9% ad
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division