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HQ 085081

October 30, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G: 085081 DPS


TARIFF NO.: 9005.80.4040

Mr. Sam Walters
S. Walters, Inc.
30423 Canwood
Suite 126
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

RE: Monoculars

Dear Mr. Walters:

Your letter of June 12, 1989, to our New York office has been referred to this office for reply concerning the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of monoculars imported by your company from Japan. Samples of each were provided with your ruling request and are being returned herewith.


The merchandise requiring classification consists of two models of monoculars. They are: (1) a Walters, model M-100 8 x 20 mm monocular; and (2) a Walters, model M-100 4 x 12 mm monocular. A monocular is a device that is designed to render distant objects more distinct, and is used with one eye. The importer states that the subject monoculars are designed as close focusing implements specifically for the legally blind individual. According to the importer, most people with extreme visual problems are only able to use one eye, making binoculars useless to them.

Heading 9005, HTSUSA, covers binoculars, monoculars, other optical telescopes, and mountings therefor, as well as other astronomical instruments and mountings. Subheading 9005.10, HTSUSA, covers binoculars, and subheading 9005.80, HTSUSA, covers other instruments, and has breakouts for optical telescopes (9005.80.4040, HTSUSA). Although the term "monoculars" is included in the language of Heading 9005, no breakout for monoculars exists under Heading 9005.


Where, within Heading 9005, HTSUSA, are monoculars classified; under the subheading covering binoculars, other, 9005.10.0080, HTSUSA, the subheading covering optical telescopes, other, 9005.80.4040, HTSUSA, or the subheading which covers "other," 9005.80.6000, HTSUSA?


The General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System (GRI's) govern classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. 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 term, "monocular," is used in the language Heading 9005, but no six or even eight digit breakout covering monoculars is included within the heading. The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA, which constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, are silent with regard to classification of monoculars. The description which most closely resembles that of monoculars, is the Explanatory Notes' description of telescopes. They provide, at page 1463, in pertinent part:

This heading [9505] includes: (2) Telescopes for hunting, touring, for use at sea, for firing ranges, for health resorts (for observing scenery or the sky), etc. They may be in one piece (pocket or other telescopes) or with sliding drawers for focussing; they may also be designed to be fitted on a stand....

Because the relevant Explanatory Notes provide little guidance in determining where monoculars fit within Heading 9005, HTSUSA, an examination of various lexicographic authorities is instructive. Reference to lexicographic authorities to determine the common meaning of tariff terms is an accepted practice amongst the courts. See, inter alia, Hasbro Industries, Inc. v. United States, 703 F. Supp. 941 (CIT 1988), aff'd, Appeal No. 89-1202 (Fed. Cir. 1989), Customs Bulletin, Vol.23, No. 31 at p.26; and C.J. Tower & Sons of Buffalo, Inc. v. United States, 673 F.2d 1268, 1271 (CCPA 1982).

The first task in classifying monoculars is to determine whether binoculars are distinguishable from monoculars. The term "monocular" is defined in the Photonics Dictionary, Vol.4 (35th Ed. 1989), at p. d-84, as "viewed with one eye." In The Optical Industry and Systems Directory, monocular is defined as "pertaining to one eye." In the same reference book, the word "binocular" is defined as, "any instrument in which both eyes can be used to view the image to achieve a stereoscopic effect, or merely facilitate observation." The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms (3rd Ed. 1984), at p.181, defines binocular as "of, pertaining to, or used by both eyes." The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Vol.2 (6th Ed. 1987), p. 504, defines binocular as: "any optical instrument designed for use with both eyes to give enhanced views of distant objects, whose distinguishing performance feature is the depth perception obtainable." The Chambers Science and Technology Dictionary (1988 Ed.), at p. 91, defines binoculars as, "a pair of telescopes for use with both eyes simultaneously." The Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 3 (Int'l. Ed. 1989), at p.756, defines binocular as an "optical device consisting of two parallel telescopic systems that enable the user to see an enlarged image of a distant object with both eyes."

Consistent with the definitions discussed above, the subject Walters monoculars cannot be called a type of binocular because they are not, by definition, binoculars. A monocular only pertains to one eye, whereas, a binocular pertains to two. Accordingly, monoculars are not classifiable under the provision for binoculars under subheading 9005.10, HTSUSA.

The term "telescope" is defined in the Chambers Science and Technology Dictionary (1988 Ed.), at p.889, as an optical instrument for producing a magnified image of a distant object. It consists of a system of mirrors, lenses or both. The McGraw- Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms (3rd Ed. 1984), at p.1617, states that a telescope is any assemblage of lenses, mirrors, or both, that enhances the ability of the eye to see objects with greater resolution or to see fainter objects. The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Vol. 18 (6th Ed. 1987), at p. 175, states that small refracting telescopes are used in binoculars, cameras, gun sights, etc. The sources indicate that all optical telescopes have two elements: (1) the objective, which intercepts and focuses incoming radiation (light); and (2) a mounting, by which the objective is supported and aimed. The objective is a lens or series of lenses or a mirror or a combination of both. An eyepiece is used for viewing the image formed by the objective.

Here, the monoculars at issue contain lenses, an eyepiece and a housing or mounting which supports them. In accordance with the technical and lexicographic authorities discussed above, a monocular is considered to be an optical telescope. Therefore, the subject Walters monoculars are classifiable as optical telescopes under subheading 9005.80.4040, HTSUSA.


The subject monoculars are considered to be, for classification purposes under the HTSUSA, optical telescopes. Therefore, they are classifiable in the provision for optical telescopes, other, under subheading 9005.80.4040, HTSUSA. Items classified under this subheading are subject to a duty rate of 8 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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