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HQ 088495

April 12, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 088495 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 8541.40.20

Mr. King Van Nostrand
The Myers Group (U.S.), Inc.
1 World Trade Center, Suite 3911
New York, NY 10048

RE: Light-Emitting Diodes; LED "Devices"; Housing; Electrical Leads; 8541

Dear Mr. Van Nostrand:

This is in reply to your letter of November 19, 1990, on behalf of the Dialight Corporation, requesting classification of light-emitting diodes, imported from Japan, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


You have submitted seventeen different light-emitting diode (LED) samples.

Five models of LEDs have transparent red or green plastic housings. Visible inside the LED housing is the LED itself and what appears to be a resistor.

One model has a black plastic housing and a transparent green plastic cover.

The remaining eleven models have a metal housing. Six of these models have recessed LEDs while the other five have protruding LEDs.

Two electrical leads extend from the base of the housing of every model. Fourteen models have a nut and a washer for mounting. The other two models appear to have "snap in" installation.


What is the classification of light-emitting diodes, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, 7th Edition, (1989), delineates the operation of LEDs:

Recombination or injection electroluminescence was first observed in 1923 by Lossew, who found that when point electrodes were placed on certain silicon carbide crystals and current passed through them, light was often emitted. Explanation of this emission has been possible only with the development of semiconductor theory. If minority charge carriers are injected into a semiconductor, i.e., electrons are injected into p-type material or "positive holes" into n-type material, they recombine spontaneously with the majority carriers existing in the material. If some of these recombinations result in the emission of radiation, electroluminescence results.

The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Vol. 10, (1987), page 61, states:

Some of the most commonly used light-emitting diode structures are shown in Fig. 2 [page 62]. The metal- flanged, single-lead design (Fig 2a) is very rugged and easy to insert; the lead-frame package (Fig. 2b) can easily incorporate built-in voltage regulators so that the light- emitting diodes can be operated over a range of input voltages such as 3-15 V. Some packages have provisions to focus or redistribute the light, such as the lead frame with a built-in reflector (Fig. 2c).

Subheading 8541.40.20, HTSUSA, provides for: "Light- emitting diodes (LED's)."

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs), to heading 8541, page 1399, state:

(C) Light Emitting Diodes

Light emitting diodes, or electroluminescent diodes, (based, inter alia, on gallium arsenide or gallium phosphide) are devices which convert electric energy into visible, infra- red or ultra-violet rays. They are used, e.g., for displaying or transmitting data in control systems.

Clearly, the LEDs under consideration "are devices which convert electric energy into visible...rays...used, e.g., for displaying."

The issue has arisen whether the instant merchandise remains properly classifiable under the provision for LEDs since they are housed, wired with a resistor, and have electrical leads. Here, the EN above provides guidance. As imported, the instant LEDs are "based, inter alia, on gallium arsenide or gallium phosphide, and are, in fact, completed LED "devices," or structures, since they have housings, resistors, and leads. Clearly, the common and commercial meaning of an LED includes completed LED "devices" such as the instant merchandise.

A question has arisen whether heading 9013, HTSUSA, provides for this merchandise. Heading 9013, HTSUSA, provides for: "Other optical appliances and instruments, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter." The ENs to heading 9013, HTSUSA, state:

This heading includes:

(11) Optical lightbeam signalling apparatus, for the long distance transmission of optical signals (for example, in morse code).

Van Nostrand's, page 61, delineates the uses for LEDs:

Applications. Visible light-emitting diodes are used as solid-state indicator lights and as light sources for numeric and alphanumeric displays. Infrared light-emitting diodes are used in optoisolators and in optical fiber transmission in order to obtain the highest possible efficiency.

Clearly, the instant visible light-emitting diodes are not "for the long distance transmission of optical signals." Further, it is Customs position that although the infrared LEDs are used for optical fiber transmissions, the EN is not intended to include LEDs of any type. In fact, this EN is intended to include optical lightbeam signalling apparatus, for the long distance transmission of optical signals, for example those used for communication between ships at sea, i.e., using morse code to avoid radio transmission detection.

Furthermore, pursuant to GRI 3(a), LEDs are properly classifiable under heading 8541, HTSUSA, which provides the most specific description.


The sixteen models of LED devices are properly classifiable under subheading 8541.40.20, HTSUSA, provides for: "Light- emitting diodes: Light-emitting Diodes: Light-emitting diodes (LED's)." The rate of duty is 2% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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