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HQ 954695

November 18, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 954695 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 8471.99.15, 8473.30.40

Mr. Patrick K. McCooey
Mitsubishi International Corporation
520 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022

RE: Fiber Optic Data Link; Optoelectronic Signal Converting Units; Control or Adapter Units; Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Machines; Parts; ROSA; TOSA; Legal Note 5(B) to Chapter 84; HQ 952554; NY 884918

Dear Mr. McCooey:

In letters dated June 14, and July 2, 1993, to the Regional Commissioner of Customs in New York, you inquired as to the tariff classification of the RFC4000 series fiber optic data link with connector under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letters were referred to this office for a response.


The merchandise, labeled as the RFC4000 series fiber optic data link with connectors, consists of the following optoelectronic signal converting modules: the simplex module RFB4011T (a transmitter optical subassembly or TOSA) which is composed of a LED transmitter and an integrated circuit (IC) chip that is placed in a plastic housing; the simplex module RFB4011R (a receiver optical subassembly or ROSA) which is composed of a pin detector and an IC chip that is placed in a plastic housing; and the duplex module RFB4012 which is composed of the receiver and transmitter modules placed in one plastic housing. The modules will be imported with their compatible connectors. The modules will be physically attached to the PC board by soldering so that no optical design work is required on the board.

The subject merchandise is used to convert electrical signals to optical signals, and vice versa, in order to allow for the manipulation and movement of data in optical form without special design work on the board itself. The submitted literature notes that the RFC4000 fiber optic data link will be used in various applications such as industrial control equipment, medical instruments, office machines, audio equipment, electronic measuring instruments and robotics.


Are the fiber optic data links classifiable as parts of automatic data processing (ADP) machines under heading 8471, HTSUS or as parts of other telephone or telegraph apparatus under heading 8517, 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.

Legal Note 5(B) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, provides guidance regarding the classification of ADP machines as follows:

Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separately-housed units. A unit is to be regarded as being a part of the complete system if it meets all the following conditions:

(a) it is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units;

(b) it is specifically designed as part of such a system (it must, in particular, unless it is a power supply unit, be able to accept or deliver data in a form (code or signals) which can be used by the system).

The RFB4012 duplex module meets the definition of Legal Note 5(B) because when the duplex module is connected to the PC board, it is able to accept or deliver data in a form which can be used by the system. See HQ 952554 (January 4, 1993); NY 884918 (April 16, 1993).

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. EN 84.71(I)(D), page 1299, describes separately presented ADP units as follows:

This heading also covers separately presented constituent units of data processing systems. Constituent units are those defined in Parts (A) and (B) above as being parts of a complete system.

Apart from central processing units and input and output units, examples of such units include:

(4) Control and adapter units such as those to effect interconnection of the central processing unit to other digital data processing machines, or to groups of input or output units which may comprise visual display units, remote terminals, etc.

In HQ 952554, Customs held that a complete transmitter and receiver module like the RFB4012 duplex module has the essential character of an ADP signal converting unit because it performs the actual signal conversion, transmission, and reception and as such is classifiable under heading 8471, HTSUS. Therefore, we find that the duplex module should be classified under subheading 8471.99.15, HTSUS, as control and adapter units for ADP machines. The transmitter and receiver simplex modules which are subassemblies of the duplex module, do not have the essential character of a finished ADP unit. Therefore, they are classifiable under heading 8473, HTSUS, which provides for parts of ADP machines.

Because you claim that the merchandise can be used in various applications, consideration was given to classifying the merchandise under heading 8517, HTSUS, as other telegraph apparatus. Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation 1(a) states:

[i]n the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires-- a tariff classification controlled by use (other than actual use) is to be determined in accordance with the use in the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation, of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong, and the controlling use is the principal use.

The Court of International Trade in Group Italglass U.S.A., Inc. v. United States, CIT Slip Op. 93-208 (Nov. 1, 1993), recently stated: "The court stresses that it is the principal use of the class or kind of goods to which the imports belong and not the principal use of the specific imports that is controlling under the Rules of Interpretation." (emphasis in original).

Even though the literature does not state that the subject merchandise is used in conjunction with ADP machines, we find that based upon Group Italglass's interpretation of Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation 1(a), we find that the principal use of the merchandise is that of use with ADP machines. See HQ 952554; NY 884918.


The RFB4012 duplex module is classifiable under subheading 8471.99.15, HTSUS, which provides for: "[a]utomatic data processing machines and units thereof: [o]ther: [o]ther: [c]ontrol or adapter units. The general, column one rate of duty is free.

The RFB4011T transmitter and RFB4011R receiver simplex modules are classifiable under subheading 8473.30.40, HTSUS, which provides for: "[p]arts and accessories. . . suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of heading 8469 to 8472: [p]arts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471: [n]ot incorporating a cathode ray tube." The general, column one rate of duty is free.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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