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HQ 082047

December 15, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082047 TLS


TARIFF NO.: 8537.10.00

Mr. Michael R. Smiszek
C.J. Tower, Inc.
128 Dearborn Street
Buffalo, New York 14207

RE: Microcomputer program controller

Dear Mr. Smiszek:

You request a ruling on the proper classification of a Model 170 microcomputer program controller under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Your letter dated March 2, 1988 has been submitted to this office for a reply.


The Model 170 microcomputer is a microprocessor based apparatus that is comprised of plug-in printed circuit modules running on a Motorola 6800 based stored program which provides logic control for traffic signals or other control applications. Operator interface is achieved by means of a front panel keyboard and associated display indicators.


Under which of the following HTSUSA headings is the traffic signal controller properly classifiable:

8530, HTSUSA, covering electrical signaling, safety or traffic control equipment for railways, streetcar lines, subways, roads, inland waterways, parking facilities, port installations or airfields (other than those of heading 8608); parts thereof;

8537, HTSUSA, covering boards, panels (including numerical control panels), consoles, desks, cabinets, and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity, including those incorporating instruments or apparatus of chapter 90, other than switching apparatus of heading 8517.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI) govern the classification of articles under the HTS. GRI 1 requires us to classify articles under the HTS according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Heading 8530 specifically mentions traffic control equipment as an article covered under that provision. We understand that the Model 170 microcomputer is sold to many public transportation authorities to be used solely as a traffic controller. In that capacity, it is specifically programmed to regulate the flow of automobile traffic through city streets by controlling the timing of the traffic lights. It can be programmed to perform other functions as well, however.

It is well settled that imported merchandise must be classified with reference to its condition as imported. The Carrington Co. et al. v. United States, 61 CCPA 77, C.A.D. 1126, 496 F.2d 902 (1974); Olympus Corp. of America v. United States, 72 Cust. Ct. 176, C.D. 4538 (1974). The Model 170 is in fact imported and marketed as a general purpose controller according to the instruction manual provided with the apparatus. We cannot ignore the general programmability of microcomputer in its imported condition. Therefore, we cannot properly classify the Model 170 microcomputer under heading 8530 as a traffic controller.

Heading 8537 covers, among other things, control apparatus. The microcomputer is, as noted above, a general purpose controller capable of perform various control functions. This article is of the kind covered under the heading. Therefore, we find the Model 170 microcomputer to be properly classifiable under HTSUSA heading 8537.


The Model 170 microcomputer is classified under subheading 8537.10.00, HTSUSA, as a programmable control apparatus with voltage not exceeding 1,000 V.


John Durant, Director

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