CLA-2 R:C:M 957723 KCC
U.S. Customs Service
Building #77, JFK Airport
Jamaica, New York 11430
RE: IA 2/95; liquid crystal devices; LCDs; 9013.80.60; liquid crystal devices not constituting
articles provided for more specifically in other headings; HRLs 955447, 954788, 953115,
952502, 951288, 952360, 954638 and 955062; EN 90.13; signaling apparatus; EN 85.31
Dear District Director:
This is in regards to Internal Advice 2/95, initiated by counsel for Sanyo Semiconductor
Corporation, in a letter to your office dated October 20, 1994, which concerns the tariff
classification of liquid crystal displays under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
(HTSUS). We note that the National Import Specialists knowledgeable about liquid crystal
displays visited a Sanyo facility to view samples and meet with counsel.
The liquid crystal displays (LCDs) at issue are referred to as fixed LCDs or icon-type
LCDs, which are represented by model numbers LCD 9108H, LCD 9077JPH, and LCD
4192RF1. They are low character fixed displays showing limited information, i.e., numbers or
symbols. These are relatively simple displays using icons, segments, bar graphs, and fixed text.
The LCDs are fitted with electrical connectors. They do not contain a printed circuit board or any
integrated circuits, but are inserted as one of many components on a circuit board inside the
machine into which it is designed to be incorporated. The IA applicant describes this merchandise
in their sales literature and on their commercial invoices as LCD panels. However, they state that
there is not an industry-applied term for this particular type of LCD.
Are the LCDs classified under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, as "[e]lectric sound or
visual signaling apparatus...[i]ndicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's)...", or
under subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, as "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles
provided for more specifically in other headings..."?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of
Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, 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...."
The subheadings at issue are:
8531.20.00 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator
panels, burglar or fire alarms), other than those of heading 8512 or 8530; parts
thereof...Indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's) or light
emitting diodes (LED's)....
9013.80.60 Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in
other headings; lasers, other than laser diodes; other optical appliances and
instruments, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts and
accessories thereof...Other devices, appliances and instruments...Other.
There is no dispute that the LCDs are limited by design and function to that of signaling
and are, therefore, classifiable under heading 8531, HTSUS. Additionally, you contend that the
LCDs are classifiable under subheading 9013, HTSUS, as liquid crystal devices not constituting
articles provided for more specifically in other headings. You state that the industry frequently
refers to the LCDs at issue as glass sandwiches. This classification opinion is based on
Headquarters Ruling Letters (HRL) 955477 dated February 9, 1994, which classified glass
sandwiches under subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, and Explanatory Note (EN) 90.13 (pg. 1478),
(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
(emphasis in original).
In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and
Coding System (HCDCS) ENs may be consulted. The ENs, although not dispositive, provide a
commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the
proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See, T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23,
We are of the opinion that the glass sandwiches classified under subheading 9013.80.90,
HTSUS, in HRL 955477 are not similar to the LCDs at issue. Glass sandwiches are incomplete
units which generally are not dedicated to a particular function at the time of importation. In
HRL 955447, as imported, the glass sandwiches required row and column drivers to be installed
in order for the unit to operate as designed. The LCDs at issue do not require row and column
drivers because they are not organized to display information in rows or columns. We note that
the LCDs at issue, appear, by visual inspection, to be glass sandwiches. However, as imported,
they are workable, complete LCDs without a power source which, by design, do not require row
and column drivers to function. Moreover, the LCDs do not require integrated circuits containing
software to define what the displayed graphics or numbers will look like because all the graphics
and numbers that will be displayed on the LCDs are ingrained into the LCDs themselves.
Everything that is needed to enable the LCDs to function, other than a power source, is included
in the LCDs at the time of importation. Therefore, it is our opinion that the LCDs are not
classifiable as glass sandwiches under subheading 9013.80.90, HTSUS.
We agree with the IA applicant that the LCDs at issue are specifically described under
subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, as "[e]lectric sound or visual signaling apparatus...[i]ndicator
panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's)...." Only those LCD's which are principally
used and/or limited by design to "signaling" are classifiable under subheading 8531.20.00,
HTSUS. See, HRL 954788 dated December 1, 1993, HRL 953115 dated May 10, 1993, HRL
952502 dated March 18, 1993, HRL 952360 dated October 15, 1992, HRL 951868 and HRL
951288. The articles under consideration are complete, workable LCDs which present limited
indication information to a user, i.e., a feature is in use, battery usage, administration of
medication, etc. This type of indication information is similar to the types of limited indication
functions enumerated in EN 85.31 (1381). Therefore, the LCDs are principally used for visual
signaling, and are classifiable under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS. See also, HRL 955062
dated March 21, 1994 (global positioning, traffic signal controller, portable data collector, lottery
system, pipeline monitoring, gasoline pump indicator, and medical, measurement and industrial
instruments), HRL 954638 dated December 2, 1993 (electronic price tags, medical
instrumentation, diving equipment, camera controls, and industrial controls) and HRL 953115
dated May 10, 1993 (avionics LCDs for collision avoidance systems), which classified LCDs with
limited operational capabilities for signaling functions under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, as
The LCDs, represented by model numbers LCD 9108H, LCD 9077JPH, and LCD
4192RF1, are classified under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, as "[e]lectric sound or visual
signaling apparatus...[i]ndicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's)...." The
corresponding duty rate for articles of this subheading is 2.4 percent ad valorem.
This decision should be mailed by your office to the internal advice requester 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 the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other
public access channels.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division