CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 961882 JAS

Mr. Ed Ohlmann
Tektronix, Inc.
P.O. Box 500
Beaverton, OR 97077-0001

RE: N Y C86285 Revoked; Signal Generator, Signal-Producing Device for Testing the Accuracy of Receiver Devices; Measuring or Checking Instrument; Instrument That Carries Out Steps in a Process for Inspecting Goods, Checking, United States v. Corning Glass Works; Section XVI, Note 1(m); HQ 954856

Dear Mr. Ohlmann:

In NY C86285, which the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, issued to you on April 30, 1998, signal generator models SME03, SMIQ02, SMIQ03, and R3561L, were held to be classifiable in subheading 8543.20.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as other electrical machines and apparatus, not specified or included elsewhere in Chapter 85.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed modification of NY C86285 was published on July 1, 1998, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 32, Number 26. No comments were received in response to that notice.


The merchandise in issue, signal generators or function generators, are electronic instruments that produce periodic voltage or current waveforms, signals or pulses, that are used in testing and calibration applications for a variety of electronic equipment. These signal generators perform no independent - 2 -

measuring or checking function; rather, other instruments utilize the signals they produce to measure or check the performance of various electronic systems.


Whether the signal generators in issue are checking instruments of heading 9030.

LAW AND ANALYSIS: 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).

Relevant heading 85.43 ENs, at p. 1518 and 1519, state the heading covers all electrical appliances and apparatus not falling in any other heading of Chapter 85, nor covered more specifically by a heading of any other Chapter of the Nomenclature, nor excluded by an applicable Section XVI legal note.

Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, excludes from that Section goods of Chapter 90. The issue, then, is whether there exists any provision Chapter 90 that describes the signal generators under consideration. In this regard, other ENs, at p. 1652, contain the following statement regarding the scope of heading 90.30 "Apart from the above-mentioned types of instruments or apparatus which generally effect direct measurements, the heading also includes those which supply the operator with certain data from which the quantity to be measured can be calculated (comparative method)." (Emphasis added.) While not necessarily conclusive, these ENs suggest that heading 9030 encompasses not - 3 -

only instruments and apparatus which directly perform a measuring or checking function, but also those which generate electrical signals utilized by other instruments and apparatus that do perform such measuring or checking functions.

On a case-by-case basis, prior administrative and judicial decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting provisions of the HTSUS, particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTSUS. In this respect, the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (now the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) in United States v. Corning Glass Works, C.D. 4716, rev'd., C.A.D. 1216 (1978), considered whether ampul inspection machines were measuring or checking instruments under a nearly identical provision of the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the HTSUS predecessor tariff code. The Court recited its understanding of the common meaning of the term "checking" and concluded it encompasses machines that carry out steps in a process for inspecting ampuls to determine whether they conform to an imperfection-free standard. Limiting the provision to devices that (actually) measure or verify the accuracy of a measurement, the Court concluded, improperly renders "checking" superfluous. We find this decision instructive in determining the scope of heading 9030, particularly when read in conjunction with the referenced 90.30 ENs. See also HQ 954856, dated September 10, 1993, and cases cited. For these reasons, the signal generators in issue are provided for in heading 9030. Section XVI, Note 1(m) thus eliminates heading 8543 from consideration.


Under the authority of GRI 1, signal generator models SME03, SMIQ02, SMIQ03, and R3561L, are provided for in heading 9030. They are classifiable in subheading 9030.89.00, HTSUS, as other instruments and apparatus. The rate of duty is 2.3 percent ad valorem.

NY C86285, dated April 30, 1998, is revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication - 4 -

of rulings or decisions pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1) does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)).


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division