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HQ 951476

June 23, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 951476 LTO


TARIFF NO.: 8536.50.00

Mr. Michael R. Doram
Politis, Pollack & Doram
3255 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1688
Los Angeles, California 90010

RE: Magnetic Contacts; EN 85.31; 8536; EN 85.36; Note 4 to Section XVI; GRI 2(a); Note 2(a) to Section XVI

Dear Mr. Doram:

This is in response to your letter of March 12, 1992, requesting the classification of magnetic contacts under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was referred to this office for a response.


The articles in question are magnetic contacts (Model 10 and Model 50). Model 10 is a 3/8" concealed magnetic contact, and Model 50 is an overhead door contact. Both models incorporate dual reed switches in a parallel circuit, an Alnico 5 magnet and electrical insulated wire conductors.

The magnetic contacts are placed by windows, doors, gates and any other objects the user wishes to protect from unauthorized entry. When the magnet and the dual reed switches are in close proximity, a closed loop circuit exists. When the magnet is not in close proximity to the switches, the contacts open and the switches activate the alarm.


Whether the magnetic contacts are covered by Heading 8531, HTSUS, which describes electric signaling apparatus and parts thereof.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS
govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states in pertinent part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ."

The headings at issue are as follows:

8531 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels, burglar or fire alarms), . . . parts thereof

8536 Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits . . ., for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V

You contend that the articles in question are classifiable under Heading 8531, HTSUS, as either "functional units" whose function is described therein (according to Note 4 to Section XVI), as incomplete alarms (according to GRI 2(a)), or as parts of alarms.

Note 4 to Section XVI states as follows:

Where a machine . . . consists of individual components . . . intended to contribute together to a clearly defined function covered by one of the headings in chapter 84 or chapter 85, then the whole falls to be classified in the heading appropriate to that function.

You suggest that the individual components of the magnetic contacts are intended to contribute together to a clearly defined function covered by Heading 8531, HTSUS. The clearly defined function covered by this heading is that of signaling. It is clear that the articles in question do not, by themselves, perform such a function.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Co-operation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, they are generally indicative of proper interpretation of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are thus useful in ascertaining classification under the System.

EN 85.31, pg. 1381, states that Heading 8531, HTSUS, covers, with certain exceptions, "all electrical apparatus used for signalling purposes, whether using sound for the transmission of the signal . . . or using visual indication . . ., and whether operated by hand . . . or automatically (e.g., burglar alarms)." The articles in question are not, by themselves, sound signaling equipment, nor are they visual signaling equipment. Thus, they are not classifiable under Heading 8531, HTSUS, according to Note 4 to Section XVI.

The articles in question are also not classifiable under Heading 8531, HTSUS, as incomplete alarms according to GRI 2(a). GRI 2(a) states in part as follows:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

Burglar alarms consist of two parts, "a detecting part, and a signalling part . . . which is set off automatically when the detecting part operates." EN 85.31, pg. 1382. They operate by various means, including "electrical contacts which are operated by stepping on a certain part of the floor, opening a door, breaking or touching wires, etc. [emphasis in original]." EN 8531, pg. 1382. The articles in question act as the detecting part of a burglar alarm. When the door or window to which they are attached is opened and the contacts broken, the alarm is activated.

The magnetic contacts would be classifiable as incomplete alarms only if they have the "essential character" of complete alarms. The articles in question provide the means of operation for the bell, buzzer or other signaling equipment. They do not contain any of the alarm's signaling equipment. Thus, it is our opinion that the magnetic contacts, the detecting portion of the alarm, do not have the essential character of complete alarms.

As described by EN 85.31, pg. 1382, the articles in question are clearly parts of burglar alarms. However, Note 2(a) to Section XVI states that "[p]arts which are goods included in any of the headings of Chapters 84 and 85 (other than headings 8485 and 8548) are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings . . . [underlining added]." Thus, if the articles in question are goods included in Heading 8536, HTSUS, they cannot be classified as parts of electric sound signaling apparatus under Heading 8531, HTSUS.

EN 85.36, pg. 1389, states that Heading 8536, HTSUS, covers apparatus for switching electrical circuits, including switches operated by the opening or closing of a door. It further states that "[t]hese apparatus consist essentially of devices for making or breaking one or more circuits in which they are connected, or for switching from one circuit to another."

When energized, the magnetic contacts react to any unauthorized entry by opening the closed loop circuit to activate the alarm's signaling device. The fact that they merely contain dual reed switches, and that switches generally do not contain magnets or insulated electrical wire leads, does not take them beyond the scope of Heading 8536, HTSUS. Thus, the articles in question are apparatus for switching electrical circuits classifiable under Heading 8536, HTSUS, specifically under subheading 8536.50.00, HTSUS.


The magnetic contacts are classifiable under subheading 8536.50.00, HTSUS, which provides for "[e]lectrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (for example, switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders, junction boxes), for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V . . . [o]ther switches." The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 5.3% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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