CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 951709 LTO
Mr. P. S. Brockington
50 Columbia Road, Branchburg Township
Somerville, New Jersey 08876-3519
RE: Fire Polished Lenses; EN 90.01; Additional U.S. Note 1 to
Chapter 90 ["optically worked"]
Dear Mr. Brockington:
This is in response to your letter of March 13, 1992,
requesting the classification of fire polished lenses under the
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your
letter was referred to this office for a response.
The articles in question are described as fire polished
lenses. These lenses are used to focus and receive a beam of
light through photoelectric actuation devices, such as, bottle
counting machines and door openers, and in sensing lenses for
post office bar code readers and label bar code readers.
The lenses have optical properties produced by the process
of molding the glass into its final shape while the glass is in a
pliable, heat-softened state. The glass rods are softened and
shaped into lens shapes with curved surfaces. This process is
referred to as "fire polishing."
In a meeting with this office on August 19, 1992, you stated
that some of these "fire polished" lenses are subjected to a
polishing process after the molding operation. The samples you
submitted were examined by the Office of Laboratories and
Scientific Services at Headquarters, and they determined that one
lens was in fact polished after molding.
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1. Whether fire polished (molded) lenses are "optically worked"
according to Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 90.
2. Whether lenses that are subjected to a polishing process
after molding are "optically worked" according to Additional U.S.
Note 1 to Chapter 90.
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 headings at issue are as follows:
7014 Signaling glassware and optical elements
of glass (other than those of heading
7015), not optically worked
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
9001 [L]enses (including contact lenses),
prisms, mirrors and other optical
elements, of any material, unmounted,
other than such elements of glass not
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Co-operation
Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System.
While not legally binding, 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. EN
90.01, pg. 1459, states that "to distinguish between the optical
elements of glass of this heading and those of Chapter 70 it is
necessary to determine whether or not they have been optically
worked [emphasis in original]."
Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 90 states that "[f]or the
purposes of headings 9001 and 9002, the term 'optically worked'
refers to glass the surface of which has been ground or polished
in order to produce the required optical properties." EN 90.01,
pg. 1459, describes this process in greater detail:
The optical working of glass is usually
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performed in two stages, viz., the production of
the surfaces to the shape required (i.e., with the
necessary curvature, at the correct angle, etc.),
and the polishing of these surfaces. This working
consists of grinding the surfaces by means of
abrasives, rough at first, then gradually finer,
the successive operations being roughing, trueing,
smoothing and polishing. Finally, in the case of
lenses required to be of an exact diameter, the
edges are ground; this is known as the centring and
edging operation. This heading applies only to
optical elements of which the whole or part of
their surface has been polished in order to produce
the required optical properties. It applies
therefore to elements which have been ground and
polished as described above, and also to elements
which have been polished after moulding [emphasis
1. Fire polished (molded) lenses
Fire polished lenses obtain their optical properties by the
process of molding the glass into its final shape while the glass
is in a pliable, heat-softened state. The glass rods are
softened and shaped into lens shapes with curved surfaces. The
end result is a lens having optical properties (specific focal
lengths and focal points) similar to those lenses which have been
However, while the lenses have similar optical properties,
they have not been ground or polished to obtain these properties.
Thus, they are not "optically worked" as that term is described
in Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 90, and they cannot be
classified under Heading 9001, HTSUS.
On the other hand, Heading 7014, HTSUS, covers optical
elements of glass which are manufactured in a way that produces
some required optical effect without being optically worked,
including those which have obtained an optical property through a
molding process or other manufacturing process. EN 70.14, pg.
In your letter of March 13, 1992, you suggest that the
lenses in question require no further working because the rod
molding process imparts the required optical properties to the
lenses. This fact, however, does not take the lenses beyond the
scope of Heading 7014, HTSUS, which covers lenses that require no
further optical working after molding, for example, lenses for
automobile headlamps, parking lights, direction indicating
lights, switchboards and panel lights. EN 70.14, pg. 937.
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The fire polished lenses are classifiable under subheading
7014.00.20, HTSUS, which covers finished optical elements which
have been manufactured in such a way so as to produce the
required optical property without being ground and polished.
2. Lenses polished after molding
In the meeting of August 19, 1992, you stated that in
certain instances, the flat surface of the molded lens is ground
and polished to give the focal length of the lens greater
accuracy. This polishing of the molded lens "fine tunes" the
lens' optical properties.
The molding (or "fire polishing") process gives the lens its
rough optical characteristics and the polishing of the lens
brings it to "trueness" or its exact convexity or concavity
specification. Rather than creating a lens with a specific focal
point (which was done during the molding operation), the
polishing process "trues" the surface, removing most of the edge
aberrations, so that all of the light rays fall at the selected
As mentioned above, EN 90.01, pg. 1459, states that Heading
9001, HTSUS, applies only to lenses of which the whole or part of
their surface has been polished to obtain the required optical
properties, and that the heading applies to lenses which have
been polished after molding. While the polishing process in
question does not give the lens its primary optical properties
(which are imparted by the molding operation), it does in fact
increase the accuracy of the focal point of the lens.
According to Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 90 and EN
90.01, the lenses which have been polished after molding are
"optically worked" for tariff purposes. Thus, they are
classifiable under Heading 9001, HTSUS, specifically under
subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS, which provides for optically worked
The fire polished (molded) lenses are classifiable under
subheading 7014.00.20, HTSUS, which provides for "[s]ignaling
glassware and optical elements of glass (other than those of
heading 7015), not optically worked . . . [o]ptical elements
. . . [o]ther." The corresponding rate of duty for articles of
this subheading is 10% ad valorem.
The lenses which have been polished after the molding
operation are classifiable under subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS,
which provides for "lenses (including contact lenses), prisms,
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mirrors and other optical elements, of any material, unmounted,
other than such elements of glass not optically worked . . .
[o]ther . . . [l]enses." The corresponding rate of duty for
articles of this subheading is 5.6% ad valorem.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division