United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1990 HQ Rulings > HQ 0082932 - HQ 0083057 > HQ 0082933

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 082933

August 4, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:CV:G 082933 VEA


TARIFF NO.: 8513.10.2000

Ms. Beth C. Brotman, Esq.
Tompkins & Davidson
One Whitehall Street
New York, N. Y. 10004

RE: Combination Flashlight/Signaling Device

Dear Ms. Brotman:

Your inquiry of October 12, 1988, on behalf of your client, Dorcy International, requests reconsideration of a New York ruling dated April 22, 1988 (File # 828324), classifying a portable electrical lighting device as a flashlight in heading 8513 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise at issue consists of a portable electrical lighting device, style no. 41-0900, imported from Hong Kong. The unit is cylindrical in shape. It is made of plastic and is approximately 6 5/8 inches long and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. It consists of a filament bulb with a reflector and socket, a clear lens, a rechargeable nickel cadmium battery, and a built-in plug that fits the automobile cigarette lighter socket, for recharging the battery. A magnet is attached to the bottom of the unit so that it will adhere to metal surfaces. It is imported and sold with a rechargeable battery.

The device is designed to be used around automobiles and has two functions. It acts as both a flashlight and an emergency blinker. Pushing forward on the switch located on the case activates the flashlight, and pulling forward on the grooved area at the head of the flashlight activates the emergency blinker. Although the blinker and flashlight share a common power source, a separate circuitry allows each to perform their individual functions.

Our New York office classified the lighting device as a flashlight in heading 8513. You disagree with this classification and argue that the merchandise should be classified in heading 8531 as electrical visual signaling apparatus, or as electrical apparatus not specified elsewhere, in heading 8543.


Whether a portable electrical lighting device is electric sound or visual signaling apparatus classified in heading 8531; electrical machines and apparatus classified in heading 8543; or portable electric lamps (flashlights) classified in heading 8513.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), the legal principles by which merchandise is classified, govern classification under the HTSUS. According to GRI 1, the primary consideration in determining whether merchandise should be classified in a heading should be given to the language of the heading and to any relevant chapter or section notes. The headings at issue in this case, 8531, 8513, and 8543 state:

8531 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:

8531.80.00 Other apparatus

8513 Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy
(for example, dry batteries, storage batteries magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof:

8513.10 Lamps:

8513.10.20 Flashlights

8543 Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof:

8543.80 Other machines and apparatus:

8543.80.90 Other

Under GRI 3(a), the article in this case cannot be classified in heading 8543. GRI 3(a) states that the heading providing the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. Headings 8531 and 8513 more specifically describe the article, since it has two functions, emergency blinker and flashlight. Under the HTSUS, GRI 3(b) governs when there are two headings which describe an article, but each refers to only one of its components. GRI 3(b) states that mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character.

The factor that determines the essential character of an article varies between different kinds of articles. It may be the nature of the material or component, its weight, value, bulk, or quantity, or its role in relation to the use of the goods.

The importer argues that it is impossible to determine the essential character of the lighting device because it has two independent and co-equal functions. It is not primarily a
flashlight or blinker. Since essential character cannot be determined, GRI 3(c) governs.

We disagree with the importer that the essential character of the lighting device in this case cannot be determined. Based on the facts presented, the nature of the device and the role that the flashlight plays in relation to the overall use of the article suggest that the flashlight gives the device its essential character.

Although the flashlight and emergency blinker perform two independent functions, the overall design of the product indicates that it was intended to be used as a flashlight. The product looks like a flashlight. It is cylindrical in shape and is approximately 6 5/8 inches long and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. A round plastic lens covers the bulb. Moreover, since both the blinker and flashlight operate using the same light source (the flashlight bulb), the blinker is only operative if the flashlight bulb operates. Finally, as a practical matter, the lighting device would be purchased not because of its use as an emergency blinker but because it is a flashlight.

Under these facts, the flashlight gives the lighting device its essential character. The emergency blinker merely serves as an added feature and only enhances the overall feature of the lighting device. Since the merchandise can be classified according to GRI 3(b), it is unnecessary to look to GRI 3(c).


The portable electric lighting device is properly classified as a flashlight in heading 8513, subheading 8513.10.20.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: