Ms. Emily K. Petrusa
AFL Telecommunications LLC
170 Ridgeview Center Drive
Duncan, SC 29334

RE: The tariff classification of an optical adapter assembly plate from an unspecified country.

Dear Ms. Petrusa:

In your letter dated November 4, 2010, you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The merchandise under consideration is described as the Optical Adapter Assembly Plate. The Optical Adapter Assembly Plate consists of an aluminum, steel, or plastic faceplate which features multiple slots, each equipped with a fiber optic cable connector adapter. The fiber optic cable connector adapters provide two sockets, one at either end of the adapter, designed to accept male fiber optic cable connectors. From the information you provided, this Assembly Plate will be incorporated into patch panel modules or optical cassettes designed for use in telecommunication apparatus. Each fiber optic connector adapter fitted on the faceplate facilitates a connection that simply mechanically aligns two optical fibers end to end in a digital line system.

The Optical Adapter Assembly Plate is considered to be a composite good made up of different components which are classified under different headings. General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b) of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) provides, in relevant part, that composite goods which cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a) shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character. The fiber optic cable connector adapters clearly provide the essential character of this item.

In your ruling request you suggest classification of the Optical Adapter Assembly Plate in 8538.90.8080, HTSUS as an other part suitable for use solely or principally with articles of 8535, 8536, or 8537. However, the Optical Adapter Assembly Plate is itself mechanically aligning optical fiber cables end to end. Connectors for optical fibers, optical fiber bundles or cables are specifically provided for in heading 8536, HTSUS.

The applicable subheading for the Optical Adapter Assembly Plate will be 8536.70.0000, HTSUS, which provides for “Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits…connectors for optical fibers, optical fiber bundles or cables: Connectors for optical fibers, optical fiber bundles or cables.” The general rate of duty will be Free.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Thomas Campanelli at (646) 733-3016.


Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division