CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 958653 JAS

Port Director of Customs
P.O. Box 3130
Laredo, TX 78044

RE: I.A. 51/95; Electrical Wiring Harnesses, Electrical Apparatus Used as Conductors in Automotive Applications, Apparatus for Supplying Electricity to Working Parts of Automotive Vehicles, Heading 8544; Section XVI, Note 1(l); Parts and Accessories of Motor Vehicles, Heading 8708, Section XVII, Note 2(f); HQ 088477, HQ 951223, HQ 955026, HQ 952493

Dear Port Director:

Your memorandum of October 14, 1995, transmitted a request for internal advice, dated June 14, 1995, from counsel representing Alcoa Fujikura Ltd., on the tariff classification of certain automotive wiring harness assemblies. Samples, photographs and other descriptive literature were submitted.


This request relates to five (5) wiring harness assemblies, all of which are used in electrical distribution systems of automotive vehicles. These wiring harnesses all have the following common components: copper wires (circuits), metal terminals, plastic connectors, plastic and/or cloth tape, plastic protective tubing, and plastic locating devices or clips for securing the harness to the vehicle ("common components"). The copper wires are used incidentally for grounding but primarily for electrical supply. The low gauge copper wires are used to transmit electrical signals for information while the higher gauge wires carry electricity for power.

Model F5DB-9D930-AA is a harness containing thirteen wires and common components listed above, to include metal terminals, plastic connectors, electrical tape, plastic protective tubing, and plastic locating device. This harness conducts electricity between an engine control module and six fuel injectors. - 2 -

Model F5TB-13412-AA is a 6-wire electrical conductor for a rear license plate light. It contains the common components listed above, plus two sockets for light bulbs, but minus the bulbs.

Model F5LB-12A522-AA incorporates 78 wires but contains nothing other than the common components listed above, but no light socket. This is the circuitry for most of a car's engine control elements (sensors, fuel injectors, ignition control, air conditioning, clutch coil control, idle speed control, exhaust gas recirculation solenoid control, alternator and battery, oil pressure sensor, water temperature control, radio noise suppression, and some steering components. This harness functions only to transmit electricity. It neither performs nor assists any engine control function.

Model F5TB-12A581-GN is a 199-circuit engine control harness which, in addition to the common components listed above, contains a power distribution box into which fuses, relays, and diodes are plugged, and an independent resistor/diode welded to a wire. Among its connectors are eight light sockets, without bulbs, for parking lights, turn signals and headlamps, and test connection points for a diagnostic computer used by repair technicians. It does not incorporate any of the engine control elements nor does it assist in their functions other than carrying electricity to them.

Model F5TB-14A265-AA is a 21-circuit, electric door-lock and window regulator harness containing the common components listed above, plus a power switch that enables passengers to lock and unlock doors, and raise and lower power windows. This harness supplies power to the window and door-lock motors, as well as to the right front door courtesy lamp and right door stereo speaker.

Counsel for the internal advice applicant maintains that notwithstanding the presence of power distribution or fuse boxes, light sockets, switches, etc., the five (5) wiring harnesses function primarily as insulated electric conductors of the type described in heading 8544, Harmonized tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), Your office accedes to this classification as to the first four models, but questions whether the power switch on the fifth model that locks/unlocks doors and raises/lowers windows precludes classification as an insulated electrical conductor.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8544 Insulated (including enameled or anodized) wire, cable (including coaxial cable) and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors;...:

8544.30.00 Ignition wiring sets and other wiring sets of a kind used in vehicles, aircraft or ships...5 percent ad valorem - 3 -

* * * * 8708 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705:

8708.99 Other:

8708.99.80 Other...2.9 percent ad valorem


Whether the wiring harnesses, or any of them, are goods of heading 8544.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Articles of Section XVII are excluded from Section XVI, which includes heading 8544. Section XVI, Note 1(l), HTSUS. For purposes of heading 8708, the expression "parts" and "parts and accessories" do not apply to electrical machinery or equipment (Chapter 85). Section XVII, Note 2(f), HTSUS. Therefore, if the wiring harnesses, or any of them, are goods of heading 8544, they cannot be classified in heading 8708.

Relevant ENs, at p. 1404, state in part that heading 85.44 covers insulated electric wire, cable and other conductors (e.g., braids, strip, bars) used as conductors in electrical machinery, apparatus or instruments. Such wires and cables remain in heading 85.44 even if cut to length or fitted with connectors (e.g., plugs, sockets, lugs, jacks, sleeves or terminals) at one or both ends. - 4 -

Each of the wire harnesses in issue contains combinations of apparatus described in these ENs. A series of rulings state that automotive wiring harnesses which are essentially insulated conductors with connectors remain in heading 8544 even if they possess other electric components, provided the entire assembly facilitates the conduction of electricity. HQ 955026, dated September 27, 1993, and related cases.

As previously stated, your office questions whether the model F5TB-14A265-AA is outside the scope of heading 8544 because it contains a power switch that may activate the door-lock mechanism and raises/lowers the windows. Your concern is based on HQ 088477, dated May 9, 1991, in which certain automotive wiring harness assemblies were held to be classifiable in subheading 8708.99.50, HTSUS. These assemblies were found to be excluded from heading 8544 because they "incorporat[ed] a substantial amount of devices in addition to connectors (e.g., complete fuse box, lamps, switches, monitor modules with processor boards)." These devices performed functions separate and apart from facilitating the flow of electricity, i.e., lighting. See also HQ 951223, dated July 17, 1992.

The door-lock and window power switch in model F5TB-14A265-AA contains no computer or electronic elements which regulate the mechanical functioning of the locks and windows. In the "off" position, the switch interrupts or breaks the circuit, a function opposite that of conducting electricity, while in the "on" position, the switch completes an electrical circuit and, in this sense, facilitates the conduction of electricity. We find that the presence of a switch, one function of which is to facilitate the conduction of electricity, does not bring the wiring harness within the scope of HQ 088477, which addressed harnesses with a "substantial" number of devices in addition to connectors. This conclusion is buttressed by HQ 952493, dated September 15, 1992. This ruling held, in part, that an automotive wiring harness for regulating window and door lock systems, incorporating a fuse panel and circuit breaker, among other things, remained a good of heading 8544. Circuit breakers open or close an electric power circuit either during normal power system operation or during abnormal conditions. Circuit breakers and switches perform substantially similar functions.


Under the authority of GRI 1, wiring harness models F5DB-9D930-AA, F5TB-13412-AA, F5LB-12A2522-AA, F5TB-12A581-GN and F5TB-14A265-AA are provided for in heading 8544. They are classifiable in subheading 8544.30.00, HTSUS. Section XVII, Note 2(f), HTSUS, makes it unnecessary to consider heading 8708 with respect to these models. - 5 -

You should mail this decision to the internal advice applicant, through counsel, no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification
Appeals Division