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HQ 956686

August 15, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 956686 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 8471.92.62

Mr. Robert E. Burke
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
200 East Randolph Drive, Suite 7920
Chicago, IL 60601

RE: Industrial Ink Jet Printer; ADP Machine and Unit Thereof; Chapter 84, Note 5; Explanatory Notes 87.41(D) and 84.43; General Explanatory Note (E) to Chapter 84; HQs 955018 and 955263; NYs 854057 and 876142; 8443.50.50

Dear Mr. Burke:

This is in response to your letter of July 5, 1994, on behalf of Videojet Systems International, Inc., concerning the classification of an industrial ink jet printer under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise consists of an industrial ink jet printer, consisting of a printer unit and a printer mechanism (model no. SR 25B/SR 50B), which is part of an ink jet imaging system. The printer unit, which weighs 725 pounds, measures 57 inches in height, 47.2 inches in width, 23.6 inches in depth. The entire imaging system is comprised of the ink jet printer and a personal computer (PC). The printer is imported into the U.S. without media transport.

Specific software must be downloaded into the PC for the printer unit, which is incapable of operating independently, to function. The printer unit itself contains input/output and memory boards for receiving output data from the PC. Once the data is obtained, a formatter board governs the entire process of printing. The printer unit also contains a control board which controls the mix of inks, and controls the destination of each ink droplet discharged by the printer mechanism. The type of ink jet printing which the system produces is called "continuous stream" ink jet printing. The system is used for printing bar codes, high resolution fonts and complex graphic images on items as varied as paper and envelopes to packaged consumer goods. The system allows the user to manipulate images with graphics software programs which are loaded into the PC. Text can also be typed in on the PC's keyboard in a variety of sizes and fonts.

The subheadings under consideration are as follows:

8443.50.50: [o]ther printing machinery: [o]ther.

The general, column one rate of duty for goods classifiable under this provision is 3.3 percent ad valorem.

8471.92.62: [a]utomatic data processing machines and units thereof; . . . : [o]ther: [i]nput or output units, whether or not entered with the rest of a system and whether or not containing storage units in the same housing: [o]ther: [p]rinter units: [o]ther: [i]nk jet.

Goods classifiable under this provision receive duty-free treatment.


Whether the industrial ink jet printer is classifiable under subheading 8443.50.50, HTSUS, as other printing machinery, or under subheading 8471.92.62, HTSUS, as an ink jet printer unit.


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 is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Chapter 84, note 5, HTSUS, states:

(A) For purposes of heading 8471, the expression "automatic data processing machines" means:

(a) Digital machines, capable of (1) storing the processing program or programs and at least the data immediately necessary for execution of the program; (2) being freely programmed in accordance with the requirements of the user; (3) performing arithmetical computations specified by the user; and, (4) executing, without human intervention, a processing program which requires them to modify their execution, by logical decision during the processing run;

(b) Analog machines capable of simulating mathematical models and comprising at least: analog elements, control elements and programming elements;

(c) Hybrid machines consisting of either a digital machine with analog elements or an analog machine with digital elements.

(B) 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 of the following conditions:

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

(b) It is specifically designed to be 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).

Such units entered separately are also to be classifiable in heading 8471.

Heading 8471 does not cover machines incorporating or working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine and performing a specific function. Such machines are classified in the headings appropriate to their respective functions, or, failing that, in residual headings.

It is our position that the subject ink jet printer is an automatic data processing (ADP) unit as defined under chapter 84, note 5(B), HTSUS. It is indirectly connectable to the ADP machine's central processing unit (CPU), and it is specifically designed to be a part of an ADP system. In fact the printer is inoperable without such a system and the corresponding software.

It has been suggested that the ink jet printer has a specific function, that of printing, and should be precluded from classification under heading 8471, HTSUS.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). In part, Explanatory Note 84.71(D) (p. 1299) states:


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:

(1) Additional input and output units (. . . , printers, . . . ).

In part, General Explanatory Note (E) (p. 1139) to chapter 84, HTSUS, states:


(Chapter Note 5, last paragraph)

In accordance with the provisions of the last paragraph of Note 5 to Chapter 84, the following classification principles should be applied in the case of a machine incorporating or working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine, and performing a specific function:

(ii) Machines presented with an automatic data processing machine and intended to work in conjunction therewith to perform a specific function other than data processing, are to be classified as follows:
the automatic data processing machine must be classified in heading 84.71 and the other machines in the heading corresponding to the function which they perform unless, by application of Note 4 to Section XVI or Note 3 to Chapter 90, the whole is classified in another heading of Chapter 84, Chapter 85 or of Chapter 90.

As stated in Explanatory Note 84.71(D), printers are considered to be additional output units, and are to be classifiable under heading 8471, HTSUS, as long as they work in conjunction with an ADP machine to perform the function of data processing, as described under General Explanatory Note (E) to chapter 84, HTSUS. The subject printer does not perform a specific function other than that of data processing. The purpose of the printer is to print data processed from the PC and its software. Therefore, it is our position that the industrial ink jet printer is specifically classifiable under subheading 8471.92.62, HTSUS. See HQ 955018, dated January 25, 1994;
HQ 955263, dated January 19, 1994; NY 854057, dated July 10, 1990; and NY 876142, dated July 6, 1992, for rulings which held certain laser jet and ink jet printers classifiable under heading 8471, HTSUS.

It is also our position that the subject printer is not classifiable under subheading 8443.50.50, HTSUS. After an examination of Explanatory Note 84.43 (pp. 1238-1241) and the rulings classifying goods under heading 8443, HTSUS, we find that none of the exemplars listed, and none of the goods so classified, describe the class of merchandise to which the printer belongs.


The industrial ink jet printer is classifiable under subheading 8471.92.62, HTSUS, as an ink jet printer unit.


John Durant, Director

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