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HQ 956993

March 28, 1995

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 956993 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 8473.30.10

Mr. Stephen S. Spraitzar
Law Offices of George R. Tuttle
Three Embarcadero Center
Suite 1160
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Central Processing Boards Without CPU Chips; Automatic Data Processing (ADP) machines; Chapter 84, Note 5(A)(a); 8471.91; GRI 2(a); EN 84.71; HQ 087695; HQ 950762; HQ 951566; HQ 951443; HQ 950832; HQ 089008

Dear Mr. Spraitzar:

This is in response to your letter dated August 30, 1994, on behalf of Force Computers, Inc. [hereinafter "Force"] concerning the tariff classification of certain central processing unit (CPU) boards without the CPU chips under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). We regret the delay in responding.


The subject merchandise involves two models of central processing unit (CPU) boards or sometimes known as "motherboards", models CPU-5CE and CPU-10/6U, which will be manufactured without the CPU chips. Force is engaged in the manufacture and sale of printed circuit board assemblies ("boards") for "embedded systems" market. The "embedded systems" segment of the computer industry consists of users who due to their highly specialized needs, are not able to use off-the-shelf software and ready-made computer hardware.

To make its boards usable for various operating systems, Force will code the necessary logic in its CPU boards so that they are compatible with various software programs. Each of the two models contain one or more microprocessors, memory in the form of a SRAM or a DRAM, and an operating system. After importation, the CPU chip will be added.


Whether the subject microprocessor boards are classifiable as an unfinished automatic data processing machine or as a part for an automatic data processing machine under the HTSUS?


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

In order to qualify as an automatic data processing machine (ADP), the merchandise must meet the definition of an ADP set forth in Chapter 84, Note 5(A)(a), HTSUS, which provides that for the purposes of heading 8471, HTSUS, ADP machines mean:

[d]igital 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.

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. See T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). EN 84.71, page 1298, states that for a digital data processing system to be complete, it must comprise a central processing unit (CPU), an input unit (i.e., keyboard) and an output unit (i.e., computer monitor).

In HQ 087695, dated March 6, 1991, we addressed the issue of essential character for incomplete or unfinished ADP machines. In that ruling, we held that an incomplete or unfinished circuit board (motherboard) without the data processing chips did not possess the essential character of an ADP machine under heading 8471, HTSUS. This line of reasoning was upheld and affirmed in other decisions. See HQ 951566 (August 12, 1992); HQ 951443 (April 13, 1992); HQ 950832 (February 11, 1992); HQ 950221 (November 22, 1991).

The subject microprocessor board does not meet the definition of an ADP machine as set forth in Note 5(A) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, and the rulings cited above, because it lacks the CPU chip. Therefore, we find that the subject merchandise is classifiable as parts of a computer under subheading 8473.30.10, HTSUS.


For the foregoing reasons, we find that the subject microprocessor boards are classifiable under subheading 8473.30.10, HTSUS, which provides for: "Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of headings 8469 to 8472: [p]arts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471: [n]ot incorporating a cathode ray tube: [p]rinted circuit assemblies other than for power supplies for automatic data processing machines. . . ." Goods classifiable under this provision have a general, column one free rate of duty.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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