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HQ 955062

March 21, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955062 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 8531.20.00

Elizabeth Higgins
Vice President Finance & Operations
Densitron Corporation
3425 West Lomita Boulevard
Torrance, CA 90505

RE: Liquid Crystal Display Module; LCD; Signaling; 8531; 9013; HQ 951609; HQ 951288; HQ 952360; HQ 086929; HQ 952973; HQ 955294

Dear Ms. Higgins:

This is our response to your letters of September 23, 1993, and February 25, 1994, regarding the classification of certain Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs), under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The Densitron Corporation imports liquid crystal display modules ("LCDs"), complete with row and column drivers and electrical connections. You have submitted the following information regarding the principal use of these LCDs:

LCD Model Application Function

LM3328 Global Positioning Indicates

LM4328 Audio/Visual System Indicates Device Controller Setting

LM4129 Traffic Signal Indicates System
Controller Operation

LM3160 Portable Data Indicates Data Stored Collector

LM4328 Lottery System Indicates Logged Data

LM656 Medical Instrument Indicates Patient Blood Gases

LM4129 Industrial Gas Monitor Indicates Gas Levels

LM4328 Raid Disk Backup Indicates Measurements and Parameters

LM4183 Measurement Instrument Indicates Measurements

LM3229 Medical Instrument Indicates Results of Blood Tests

LM4229 Pipeline Monitoring Indicates Pressure and Flow Rate

LM56A128 Measuring Device Indicates Flow

64 X 240 Gasoline Pump Indicator Indicates Payment Information


Are the instant liquid crystal displays classifiable under the provision for electric sound or visual signaling apparatus, or under the provision for liquid crystal devices, not more specifically?


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:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

The instant LCDs are prima facie classifiable under the following subheadings:

8531 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels...

8531.20.00 Indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's)

9013 Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings

9013.80.60 Other devices, appliances and instruments: Other

Heading 8531, HTSUS, provides for electric sound or visual signaling apparatus. Therefore, to be classifiable in this heading, the apparatus must be designed for "signaling," as that term is defined for tariff purposes.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to heading 8531, HTSUS, page 1381, are fairly descriptive and restrictive as to the types of "signaling" indicator panels and the like must perform in order to be classifiable in that provision. It states: "[t]hese 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 which the numbers are indicated by a hand moving round 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. etc.

Only those LCDs which are limited by design, function, or principal use to that of "signaling," are classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS. The principal uses enumerated above are applications in which only certain limited indication information is provided to a user (such as measurement, coordinates, flow rate, etc.), and as such, these LCDs provide similar indication information as those types of limited indication functions enumerated in the EN above. Therefore, Customs concurs that the instant LCDs are principally used for visual signaling. See HQ 954638, dated December 2, 1993, in which Customs held that LCDs with limited operational capabilities for signalling functions (such as electronic price tags, medical instrumentation, diving equipment, camera controls, and industrial controls) were properly classifiable as signalling apparatus. See also HQ 953115, dated May 10, 1993, in which Customs held that similar avionics LCDs modules for collision avoidance systems (which provide limited information such as
location of other aircraft and directional heading to avoid collision), were properly classifiable as signaling apparatus.

Heading 9013, HTSUS, provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings." The ENs to heading 9013, HTSUS, page 1478, further state:

(1) Liquid crystal devices consisting of a liquid crystal layer sandwiched between two sheets or plates of glass or plastics, whether or not fitted with electrical connections, presented in the piece or cut to special shapes and not constituting articles described more specifically in other headings of the Nomenclature.

However, the instant LCDs are more specifically described in subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectric sound or visual signalling apparatus...: [i]ndicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's)...." Customs has consistently held that subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, is more specific than subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS. See HQ 955294, dated March 18, 1994, HQ 952973, dated August 5, 1993, HQ 954788, dated December 1, 1993, and HQ 954638, dated December 2, 1993. Therefore, these LCDs are classifiable in subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS.

The importer argues alternatively for classification under the provision for ADP parts. Firstly, the instant LCDs do not appear to be used with ADP machines as delineated in chapter 84, Legal Note 5. Secondly, the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation, regarding "parts" classifications versus classifications under eo nomine provisions, state as follows:

1. In the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires--

(c) a provision for parts of an article covers products solely or principally used as a part of such articles but a provision for "parts" or "parts and accessories" shall not prevail over a specific provision for such part or accessory"

Therefore, the instant LCDs are classifiable in the specific provision for signaling apparatus, and not a provision for "parts."


The Densitron Corporation liquid crystal displays are principally used for visual signaling functions. Therefore, they are classifiable in subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels...: [i]ndicator panels
incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's)." The rate of duty is 2.7 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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