CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 959175 RFA

Mr. Ed Scott
Kintetsu World Express (U.S.A.), Inc.
1811 Adrian Road
Burlingame, CA 94010-9991

RE: Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Panel Module; Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Output Unit; Heading 8471, 9013; Legal Note 5(B) to Chapter 84; HQs 952502, 957163, 952973, and 953313

Dear Mr. Scott:

This is in reference to your letter dated April 4, 1996, to the Area Director of Customs in New York, on behalf of Sotec America Inc., concerning the tariff classification of a liquid crystal display (LCD) module under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was forwarded to this office for a response.


The merchandise is a Hitachi 11.3 inch diagonal thin film transistor (TFT) active matrix color liquid crystal display (LCD) module, model number S3-M1001, which is claimed to be used in laptop and notebook computers. The subject LCD module has the following physical characteristics: an 800 x 600 pixel configuration (format) for the screen; row and column drivers (integrated circuits); a "glide point" pointing device; an interface connector; 35 to 90 milliseconds response time between signals; a thin profile; contains a back light; weighs 500 grams; and needs a maximum of 3.6 V for power supply voltage. The LCD module has a height of 29mm, a width of 280mm, and a depth of 217mm. ISSUE:

Is a Super Video Graphics Array (SVGA) LCD module classifiable as an automatic data processing (ADP) output unit under heading 8471, HTSUS, or as an LCD not more specifically provided for elsewhere under heading 9013, HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Legal Note 1(m) to Section XVI, HTSUS (which includes chapter 84), 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, if the subject merchandise is provided for more specifically in another heading, it would not be classifiable in heading 9013. See Sharp Microelectronics Technology, Inc. v. United States, 932 F.Supp. 1499, CIT Slip Op. 96-104 (July 1, 1996).

To be classified as an ADP unit under heading 8471, HTSUS, an article must meet the terms of Legal Note 5(B) to chapter 84, HTSUS, which provides that:

Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separate units. Subject to paragraph (E) below, a unit is to be regarded as being a part of a complete system if it meets all the following conditions:

(a) It is of a kind solely or principally used in an automatic data processing system;

(b) It is connectable to the central processing unit [CPU] either directly or through one or more other units; and

(c) It is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system.

In HQ 952502, dated March 18, 1993, Customs determined the classification of certain LCD modules with a column configuration (Y axis) of 640 pixels and a row configuration (X axis) of 200 to 480 pixels which were connected to printed circuit boards (PCBs) populated with row and column driver integrated circuits, output connectors, backlighting, and bezel. In that ruling, Customs found that these modules met specific computer industry standards [e.g., Video Graphics Array ("VGA"), Enhanced Graphics Adapter ("EGA"), or Color Graphics Adapter ("CGA")] and, therefore, were principally used as ADP output units, classifiable under heading 8471, HTSUS.

Since that ruling was prepared, Customs has issued several rulings involving the classification of VGA LCD modules under heading 8471, HTSUS. See HQ 957163 (February 14, 1995), HQ 952973 (August 5, 1993), and HQ 953313 (May 10, 1993). However, it has come to our attention that advances in technology has resulted in the computer industry adopting a new flat panel display standard referred to as Super VGA or "SVGA" for laptop and notebook computers. According to the information provided and our own on-going research in this industry, we find that the subject SVGA LCD module meets the terms of Legal Note 5(B) to chapter 84, HTSUS, because it is connectable to the CPU, capable of receiving data from an ADP system, and it is a type of display that is principally or solely used in an ADP system. Therefore, the SVGA LCD module is classifiable under heading 8471, as an ADP output unit.

As Customs becomes further aware of new definable industry standards, we will examine the issue and, if necessary, update the criteria used in classifying ADP output units. This ruling neither modifies nor revokes prior rulings involving the classification of LCDs. Those rulings are still valid. This ruling merely expands the class of computer displays which Customs will accept as ADP output units classifiable under heading 8471, HTSUS.


The Hitachi TFT active matrix color LCD module, model S3-M1001, is classifiable under subheading 8471.60.30, HTSUS, which provides for: "[a]utomatic data processing machines and units thereof . . . : [i]nput or output units, 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 general, column one rate of duty is free.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals