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HQ 953516

July 1, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953516 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 9013.80.60

District Director of Customs
International and Terrace Streets
Nogales, AZ 85621

RE: Protest No. 2605-92-100015; Laser Pointers; Laser Diode; other optical appliances and instruments; EN 90.13; 9013.20.00

Dear District Director:

The following is our decision regarding the request for further review of Protest No. 2605-92-100015, which concerns the classification of laser pointers under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The entries of the subject merchandise were liquidated on June 5, 1992. The protest was timely filed on September 3, 1992.


The subject merchandise is a battery-operated laser pointer shaped like a fountain pen which functions as a pointer by directing a narrow beam of red light at a chart or similar item. The laser pointer contains a laser diode (a semiconductor laser) and optics to direct the beam of light.

The merchandise was entered under subheading 9013.20.00, HTSUS, as lasers, other than laser diodes. The entry was liquidated under subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, as other optical appliances and instruments.

Heading 9013 provides for:

Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings; lasers, other than laser diodes; other optical appliances and instruments, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter. . .

The subheadings under consideration are as follows:

9013.20.00: Lasers, other than laser diodes. . .

Goods classifiable under this provision have a general, column one rate of duty of 3.9 percent ad valorem.

9013.80.60 Other devices, appliances, and instruments: [o]ther. . .

Goods classifiable under this provision have a general, column one rate of duty of 9.0 percent ad valorem.


Whether the laser pointers are classifiable as lasers or as other optical appliances and instruments under the HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. Counsel cites the following from EN 90.13(2), page 1478:

Lasers. These produce or amplify electro-magnetic radiation in the wavelength range between 1 nanometre and 1 millimetre (ultraviolet, visible light and infra- red regions of the spectrum), by the process of controlled stimulated emission. When the lasing medium (e.g., crystals, gases, liquids, chemical products) is excited by the light from an electric source or by the reaction from another source of energy, the light beams which are produced inside the lasing medium are repeatedly reflected and amplified in such a way that a coherent light beam (visible or invisible) is emitted from one end which is partly transparent.

Counsel then argues that this is a broad definition which covers all types of lasing media, and includes optical products which encompass any type of laser device. Therefore, the pointer which contains a laser diode, should be classified as a laser, even though it is optical.
However, the EN continues, on page 1479, as follows:

In addition to the lasing medium, the energy source (pumping system) and the resonant optical cavity (reflector system), i.e., the basic elements combined in the laser head (possibly with Fabry-Perot interferometers, interference filters and spectroscopes), lasers generally also incorporate certain auxiliary components (e.g., a power supply unit, a cooling system, a control unit and, in the case of the gas laser, a gas supply system or, in the case of liquid lasers, a tank, fitted with a pump for the dye solutions). Some of these auxiliary components may be contained in the same housing as the laser head (compact laser) or may take the form of separate units, connected to the laser head by cables, etc. (laser system). In the latter case the units are classified in this heading provided they are presented together.

Lasers are classified in this heading not only if they are intended to be incorporated in machines or appliances but also if they can be used independently, as compact lasers or laser systems, for various purposes such as research, teaching or laboratory examinations. (emphasis added)

It is clear to us that only laser devices specifically described in EN 90.13(2) are included within subheading 9013.20.00, HTSUS, and that a simple pointing device containing a laser diode is not within the class of articles described in the EN.

Counsel also states that the Australian Customs Service has issued advice on laser pointers, classifying them as lasers. Treasury Decision (T.D.) 89-80, "Guidance For Interpretation of Harmonized System" (54 FR 35127) states that Customs is not bound to abide by another country's rulings and that they are merely instructive of how other countries may classify like goods. We find that this advice is not instructive because the language "lasers, not being any of the goods listed in Table A other than those specifically mentioned in Table B", cited by counsel in support of his claim, does not appear in the United States tariff.


For the foregoing reasons, the laser pointers are classifiable under subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, as other optical appliances and instruments.

You should deny the protest in full. A copy of this decision should be attached to Customs Form 19 and provided to the protestant as part of the notice of action on the protest.


John Durant, Director

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