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HQ 957524

March 28, 1995

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 957524 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 8473.30.50

Ms. Lisa Cortes
AST Research Inc.
16215 Alton Parkway
Building #3 MS 3-44
Irvine, CA 92718

RE: Notebook ADP Machine Subassemblies; BIOS ROM; Chapter 84, Note 5(A)(a); GRI 2(a); HQs 950672, 950221, and 951443; NYs 851540, 874448, and 869571

Dear Ms. Cortes:

This is in response to your letter of December 14, 1994, concerning the classification of notebook automatic data processing (ADP) machine subassemblies under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise consists of two configurations of notebook ADP machine subassemblies with liquid crystal display (LCD). The first configuration is comprised of the notebook ADP machine without the BIOS ROM chip. The second configuration is comprised of the notebook ADP machine without the ROM BIOS chip, hard drive unit, and floppy drive unit.

The subheading under consideration is as follows:

8473.30.50: [p]arts and accessories . . . 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: [o]ther: [o]ther.

Goods classifiable under this provision receive duty- free treatment.


Whether the two configurations of notebook ADP machine subassemblies impart the essential character of finished ADP machines, or are classifiable under subheading 8473.30.50, HTSUS, as parts of heading 8471, HTSUS, not incorporating a cathode ray tube.


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

The definitions for "motherboard" and "BIOS ROM" can be found in The Computer Glossary, Fourth Edition. The term "motherboard" is defined as:
the main printed circuit board in an electronic device which contains sockets that accept additional printed circuit boards. In a personal computer, the motherboard contains the bus, the microprocessor and all the chips used for controlling the peripherals that are considered standard with the system, such as the keyboard, text and graphics display, serial and parallel ports and joystick and mouse interfaces.

The term "BIOS ROM" is defined as:
the part of an operating system that contains the machine instructions necessary to activate the peripheral devices. The ROM indicates that it is permanently stored in a read only memory chip.

By definition, then, the motherboard, which is part of both subassembly configurations described herein, contains all the devices necessary for controlling the peripherals with the system. The BIOS is responsible for activating the peripheral devices. Therefore, the BIOS is essential to the operation of the motherboard.

Chapter 84, note 5(A)(a), HTSUS, states that:

(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.

In HQ 950672, dated February 20, 1992, a CPU motherboard with an 80286 microprocessor, two 64k EPROMS, and a direct memory access controller was classified as a finished digital processing unit under heading 8471, HTSUS. In the ruling, it was stated that "[t]he subject CPU board satisfies this description [note 5(A)(a), chapter 84, HTSUS] of an ADP machine. The 80286 microprocessor and EPROMS enable the board to perform these functions."

Unlike the motherboard in HQ 950672, the subject subassemblies do not contain the BIOS ROM chip. Therefore they cannot perform the functions described in note 5(A)(a), chapter 84, HTSUS. The lack of the BIOS ROM chip prevents the motherboard within the subassemblies from performing input/output functions with the keyboard. Logic and control functions cannot be performed. Also, the processing program cannot be executed without human intervention.

GRI 2(a) provides that:

[a]ny reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule) entered unassembled or disassembled.

In HQ 950221, dated November 22, 1991, it was held that a motherboard, imported without a CPU unit, did not have the essential character of a finished ADP processing unit. Consequently, under GRI 2(a), because the subject subassembly configurations do not possess the BIOS ROM chip, essential to their operation, they do not impart the essential character of finished ADP units. See HQ 951443, dated April 13, 1992; NY 851540, dated April 23, 1990; NY 874448, dated May 19, 1992; and NY 869571, dated December 12, 1991. In their imported state as subassemblies, the configurations do not impart the essential character of any of their constituent components. Because the merchandise is imported in subassembly form, it is our position that individual components cannot be imported separately, and an entire subassembly cannot be classifiable under a provision describing an individual component. Because the subassemblies are necessary to the completion of an ADP system, as integral, constituent, and component parts, they are classifiable as such.


The two configurations of notebook ADP machine subassemblies are classifiable under subheading 8473.30.50, HTSUS, as parts of heading 8471, HTSUS, not incorporating a cathode ray tube.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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