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 0085756 - HQ 0085839 > HQ 0085794

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 085794

February 14, 1990

CLA-1 CO:R:C:G 085794 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 3701.30.0000; 3702.44.0000; 3703.90.6000

Mr. Sidney H. Kuflik
Lamb & Lerch
233 Broadway
New York, New York 10279

RE: Imaging media film; direct transfer color imaging media; color copying film

Dear Mr. Kuflik:

We have received your letter of October 11, 1989, regarding the classification of imaging media film to be imported by Mead Imaging. Your request and a sample of goods were forwarded to this office for a ruling.


The three products in this case are non-durable components of a color image reproduction process. These products are designed to be used exclusively with one another; i.e., they cannot be used independently or in conjunction other processes. The three components at issue here are:

Cycolor Donor Film: a polyester film coated with light sensitive microcapsule called cyliths. Each cylith contains a liquid called a monomer, which is composed of a leuco dye and light sensitive hardening agent.

Cycolor Developer Paper: A specially coated paper which is capable of accepting the developed image from the Cycolor Donor Film.

Cycolor Developer Overhead Transparencies: Similar in function to the Developer Paper, these goods are made of clear plastic transparency material to permit the transfer of color images onto overhead transparencies.

During the copying process, the Donor Film is exposed to light, which causes certain of the monomer filled capsules to harden, depending on the nature of the light falling on the film. When the exposed and partially hardened Donor Film is pressed against the Developer Paper or Developer Transparency, the remaining soft cyliths rupture, thereby releasing their dye and transferring the image to the paper or transparency.


How are these goods classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) 1 through 5. The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. Then, if GRI 1 fails to classify the goods, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

In reviewing the headings eligible for classification of these goods, it would appear that the headings of Chapter 37, which classify photographic goods, may include items such as these. Those headings provide for, in part:

3701 Photographic plates and film in the flat, sensitized, unexposed, of any material other than paper, paperboard or textiles; . . .:

3702 Photographic film in rolls, sensitized, unexposed, of any material other than paper, paperboard, or textiles; . . .:

3703 Photographic paper, paperboard and textiles, sensitized, unexposed:

The issue in this case centers around the determination of whether or not these items are considered "photographic" goods. If so, they may be classified in one of the headings 3701 - 3703, HTSUSA. If not, they will be more properly classified elsewhere in the nomenclature.

The Chapter Notes to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule are legally binding guides to interpreting the nomenclature heading terms. Legal Note 2 to Chapter 37 defines "photographic":

2. In this chapter, the word "photographic" relates to a process which permits the formation of visible images directly or indirectly by the action of light or other forms of radiation on sensitive surfaces.

The Explanatory Notes to Chapter 37, which are not legally binding but represent the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level, indicate that the scope of the chapter headings includes color as well as monochrome reproduction. In addition, there are no explicit restrictions on the coating or emulsion material which must be used on photographic goods.

Cycolor Donor Film

The sample referred to as "Cycolor Donor Film" is clearly exposed by light, and used for indirectly creating visible reproductions of an image. While the final, visible image is not created on the donor film itself, we do not believe that this prevents their consideration as "photographic goods". We base this conclusion on the fact that the exposure of the donor film to light constitutes an indispensable step in the Cycolor reproduction process, thereby "permitting" the formation of visible images. The film itself is "sensitized" by the coating of microcapsules found on the surface of the film, and is present at the time of importation. It is our opinion, therefore, that these goods fall within the scope of heading 3702.44.0000, HTSUSA.

Cycolor Developer Paper

Although the "Cycolor Developer Paper" sample is not directly exposed to light, it is also an integral part of the Cycolor reproduction process, resulting in the formation of a visible image. Therefore, we do not consider the use of the developer paper in a step once removed from the exposure process to be a bar to inclusion in a heading for photographic goods. In addition, your submission indicates that the Cycolor Developer Paper is sensitized for use only with the Cycolor Donor Film, that it cannot be used in other color reproductive processes, and that no other paper may be substituted in the Cycolor process. We are therefore of the opinion that the Cycolor developer paper is so intimately tied to the Cycolor photographic process that it is classified in heading 3703.90.6000, HTSUSA.

Cycolor Developer Film

The sample referred to as "Cycolor Developer Plastic Overhead Transparencies" is distinguishable from Cycolor developer paper only in the use of film rather than paper as its base material. Therefore, the same reasoning for classifying Cycolor Developer Paper under a heading for photographic goods applies to the Cycolor Developer Plastic Overhead Transparencies as well. These goods are classified in subheading 3701.30.0000, HTSUSA.


Because all of the goods presented with your ruling request are products integrated in a single process for the formation of visible images, either directly or indirectly by the action of light on a sensitive surface, they are considered photographic goods under the HTSUSA. The individual items are classified as follows:

Cycolor Donor Film: Classified in subheading 3702.44.0060, HTSUSA, as photographic film in rolls, sensitized, unexposed, of any material other than paper; other film, without sprocket holes, of a width exceeding 105 mm, but not exceeding 610 mm; other. These goods have a duty rate of 3.7% ad valorem.

Cycolor Developer Paper: Imported as 8 inch by 11 5/8 inch sheets, these goods are classified in subheading 3703.90.6000, HTSUSA, as photographic paper, sensitized, unexposed; other; other. These goods have a duty rate of 3.7% ad valorem.

Cycolor Developer Overhead Transparencies: Also imported as 8 inch by 11 5/8 inch sheets, these goods are classified in subheading 3701.30.0000, HTSUSA, as photographic plates and film in the flat, sensitized, unexposed, of any material other than paper, other plates and film, with any side exceeding 255 mm. The applicable rate of duty is 3.7% ad valorem.

The rates of duty set out above are based on the assumption that the merchandise will be the product of a country entitled to the General rates of duty.


John A. Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: