CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955294 MBR
U.S. Customs Service
Los Angeles International Airport
5758 W. Century Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045
RE: Internal Advice 68/93; Hosiden America Corporation; Liquid
Crystal Display Indicator Panel Modules; LCD; Global
Positioning; Bar Code Scanner; HQs 953115, 952973, 954788,
954638, 951069, 951868, 086929, 087362
Dear District Director:
This is our response to Internal Advice 68/93, submitted on
February 5, 1993, by counsel on behalf of the Hosiden America
Corporation, regarding the classification of certain Liquid Crystal
Displays ("LCDs"), under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the
United States (HTSUS). Additional information was submitted and
considered in this decision.
This request pertains to two types of custom designed and
The first type is used in bar code scanning networks. These
scanning networks have various applications including the tracking
of luggage by airlines, and warehouse inventory tracking systems.
In these systems, remote data collection units transmit and receive
data to and from a mainframe computer. The LCDs are incorporated
in the remote units (after importation), and provide limited
information to the user, such as inventory status or article
The other type of LCDs are incorporated in Global Positioning
Systems ("GPS") after importation. The GPS is a worldwide three-
dimensional navigation instrument which is used to determine the
exact position of any point on earth through the use of radio waves
transmitted to and received from satellites. A user of the GPS
simply pushes a button and the LCD panel displays the requested
information, such as: immediate coordinates, estimated time of
arrival, distance to destination, direction of destination, and
Hosiden designs these LCDs pursuant to specific customer
needs. Furthermore, the LCDs are dedicated to their respective
functions by their design, as dictated by: their pixel size and
configuration, voltage requirements, resolution, reflective design
(using ambient light) or transflective design (for backlighting
applications), and pin connection configurations.
Are the LCDs for bar code scanning and global positioning
systems classified under heading 8531, HTSUS, which provides for
electric sound or visual signaling apparatus, or under heading
9013, HTSUS, which provides for liquid crystal devices n.s.p.f.,
under the HTSUS?
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:
...classification shall be determined according to the terms
of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...
The LCDs are prima facie classifiable under the following
8531 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example,
bells, sirens, indicator panels...
8531.20.00 Indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal
devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
9013 Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for
more specifically in other headings.
9013.80.60 Other devices, appliances and instruments: Other.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Heading 8531, HTSUS, provides for electric sound or visual
signaling apparatus. Therefore, to be classifiable in this
heading, the apparatus must be designed for "signaling."
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes (ENs) to heading 8531, HTSUS, page 1381, are
fairly descriptive and restrictive as to the types of "signalling"
indicator panels and the like must perform in order to be
classifiable in this heading. It states: "[t]hese are used (e.g.,
in offices, hotels and factories) for calling personnel, indicating
where a certain person or service is required, indicating whether
a room is free or not. They include:
(1) Room indicators. These are large panels with numbers
corresponding to a number of rooms...
(2) Number indicators. The signals appear as illuminated
figures on the face of a small box; in some apparatus of
this kind the calling mechanism is operated by the dial
of a telephone. Also clock type indicators in which the
numbers are indicated by a hand moving round a dial.
(3) Office indicators, for example, those used to indicate
whether the occupant of a particular office is free or
(4) Lift indicators. These indicate, on an illuminated
board, where the lift is and whether it is going up or
Only those LCDs which are limited by design and function to
that of "signaling," are classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS. Bar
code scanning does provide only certain limited information to a
user such as item designation or destination, and as such, is
similar to those types of limited indication functions enumerated
above. Therefore, Customs concurs that the instant LCDs for bar
code scanning are designed for and dedicated to signaling. See HQ
954638, dated December 2, 1993, in which Customs held that LCDs
with limited operational capabilities for signalling functions
(such as electronic price tags, medical instrumentation, diving
equipment, camera controls, and industrial controls) were properly
classifiable as signalling apparatus.
Similarly, the GPS LCDs are designed for and dedicated to
provide certain limited information such as: coordinates, estimated
time of arrival, distance to destination, direction of destination,
and destination coordinates. Therefore, these LCDs are also
classifiable under the provision for signaling apparatus. See HQ
953115, dated May 10, 1993, in which Customs held that similar
avionics LCDs modules for collision avoidance systems (which
provide limited information such as location of other aircraft and
directional heading to avoid collision), were properly classifiable
as signaling apparatus.
Heading 9013, HTSUS, provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices
not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other
headings." The ENs to heading 9013, HTSUS, page 1478, further
(1) Liquid crystal devices consisting of a liquid crystal
layer sandwiched between two sheets or plates of glass
or plastics, whether or not fitted with electrical
connections, presented in the piece or cut to special
shapes and not constituting articles described more
specifically in other headings of the Nomenclature.
However, the instant LCDs are more specifically described in
subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectric sound
or visual signalling apparatus...: [i]ndicator panels incorporating
liquid crystal devices (LCD's)...." Customs has consistently held
that subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, is more specific than subheading
9013.80.60, HTSUS. See HQ 952973, dated August 5, 1993, HQ 954788,
dated December 1, 1993, and HQ 954638, dated December 2, 1993.
Therefore, these LCDs are classifiable in subheading 8531.20.00,
The importer argues alternatively for classification under
several parts provisions (ADPs and navigational instruments).
However, the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation, regarding
"parts" classifications versus classifications under eo nomine
provisions, direct as follows:
1. In the absence of special language or context which
(c) a provision for parts of an article covers products
solely or principally used as a part of such
articles but a provision for "parts" or "parts and
accessories" shall not prevail over a specific
provision for such part or accessory"
Therefore, the instant LCDs are classifiable in the specific
provision for signaling apparatus, and not a provision for "parts."
The Hosiden Liquid Crystal Display Indicator Panel Modules for
bar code scanners and global positioning systems are classifiable
in subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for:"[e]lectric
sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens,
indicator panels...: [i]ndicator panels incorporating liquid
crystal devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's)." The
rate of duty is 2.7 percent ad valorem.
You should advise the Internal Advice Applicant of this
decision. This decision should be mailed by your office to the
inquirer no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Sixty
days from the date of this decision, the Office of Regulations and
Rulings will take steps to make this decision available to Customs
personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via
the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information
Act and other public access channels.
John Durant, Director