United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1995 HQ Rulings > HQ 953938 - HQ 954376 > HQ 954364

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 954364

January 27, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 954364 LTO


TARIFF NO.: 8531.20.00

Mr. Martin E. Barrera
Harper Robinson & Co.
300 North Oak Street
Inglewood, California 90301

RE: LCD Modules; HQ 951288; HQ 951868; HQ 952360; HQ 952502; HQ 952973; HQ 953115; HQ 954788; EN 85.31; Chapter 90, note 2(a); heading 9014; Add. U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a)

Dear Mr. Barrera:

This is in response to your letter of May 4, 1993, to Customs in Los Angeles, California, requesting on behalf of Honeywell, Inc., the classification of LCD Modules under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was referred to this office for a response. We have also considered information provided by letter dated January 6, 1994, from the Commercial Flight Systems Group of Honeywell, Inc.


The articles in question are LCD Modules which are specially designed for use with the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) for aircraft. They are color modules, 640 x 560 dots (consisting of three color sub-pixels per dot), with a dimension of 400 x 400 x 35mm. The modules will be manufactured in Japan.

The LCDs will be used to display current vertical speed, traffic and resolution advisories (alert crew to a vertical maneuver that must be performed or avoided to prevent a collision or near-collision). They will also display the aircraft's own position by an aircraft symbol surrounded by a ring of dots. Other symbols are used, in increasing order of threat, to indicate the status of traffic. They display an intruder's relative altitude, as well as whether the intruder is climbing or descending (by use of an arrow). The modules merely display information. They do not include the backlighting module, processor or power supply.


Whether the LCD Modules are classifiable as other navigational instruments and appliances under heading 9014, HTSUS, or as electric sound or visual signaling apparatus under heading 8531, HTSUS.


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), other than those of heading 8512 or 8530; parts thereof

9014 Direction finding compasses; other navigational instruments and appliances; parts and accessories thereof

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, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings.

EN 85.31, pg. 1381, states that heading 8531, HTSUS, "covers all electrical apparatus used for signalling purposes, whether using sound for the transmission of the signal (bells, buzzers, hooters, etc.) or using visual indication (lamps, flaps, illuminated numbers, etc.) . . . . The heading covers 'signaling' indicator panels which "are used (e.g., in offices, hotels and factories) for calling personnel, indicating where a certain person or service is required, indicating whether a room is free or not. They include:"

(1) Room indicators. These are large panels with numbers corresponding to a number of rooms . . .
(2) Number indicators. The signals appear as illuminated figures on the face of a small box; in some apparatus of this kind the calling mechanism is operated by the dial of a telephone. Also clock type indicators in - 3 -
which the numbers are indicated by a hand moving around a dial.
(3) Office indicators, for example, those used to indicate whether the occupant of a particular office is free or not . . .
(4) Lift indicators. These indicate, on an illuminated board, where the lift is and whether it is going up or down . . .

EN 85.31, pg. 1381-2.

Heading 8531, HTSUS, is a use provision subject to Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), which states that: "a tariff classification controlled by 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." See HQ 951288, dated July 7, 1992. Customs has uniformly stated that "LCDs which are limited by design and/or principal use to that of 'signaling,' are classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS." HQ 953115, dated May 10, 1993 (See also HQ 952502, dated March 18, 1993, HQ 952973, dated August 5, 1993, HQ 951868, dated October 31, 1992, and HQ 952360, dated October 15, 1992).

The LCDs in question are specially designed for use with the TCAS II. They are not "generic" LCDs, and would have to be reconfigured to be used with any other system. They are part of the TCAS II system, which provides a supplement to ground based air traffic control (ATC). The system preserves ATC separation by tracking aircraft, evaluating collision potential and displaying/announcing advisories, including recommended evasive action in the vertical plane. The system also computes range, relative altitude and bearing of nearby aircraft from its ATC transponder replies.

Due to the specific design, function and principal use of the instant LCDs for visual signaling, they are prima facie classifiable under heading 8531, HTSUS. See HQ 954788, dated December 1, 1993 (wherein custom designed avionics LCDs were classified under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS).

The LCD modules are also prima facie classifiable under heading 9014, HTSUS, as parts of navigational instruments. However, note 2(a) to chapter 90 provides as follows:

Subject to note 1 above, parts and accessories for machines, apparatus, instruments or articles of this chapter are to be classified according to the following rules:

(a) Parts and accessories which are goods included in any of the headings of this chapter or of chapter 84, 85 or 91 (other than heading 8485, 8548 or 9033) are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings . . .

Thus, because the modules are "goods included" in heading 8531, HTSUS, they cannot be classified as parts of navigational instruments under heading 9014, HTSUS.


The LCD modules are classifiable under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for "[e]lectric sound or visual signaling apparatus . . . [i]ndicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's)." The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 2.7% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: