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HQ 957793

April 19, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:M 957793 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 8543.80.98

Ms. Betty Bell
Critikon, Inc.
4110 George Road
P.O. Box 31800
Tampa, Florida 33631-3800

RE: Display panels for blood pressure monitors; electroluminescent devices; HRL 956830 modified

Dear Ms. Bell:

This is in regards to Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 956830 issued to you on March 27, 1995, concerning the tariff classification of display panels under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), and whether the display panels are substantially transformed into a product of the U.S. when incorporated into blood pressure monitors. We have reviewed HRL 956830 and determined that the tariff classification of the display panels is incorrect. Accordingly, for the reasons contained herein, HRL 956830 is modified.


The facts contained in HRL 956830 are, by reference, incorporated into this ruling. HRL 956830 classified the display panels under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for:

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

Additionally, HRL 956830 determined that the display panel is not substantially transformed into a product of the U.S. when it is plugged into a blood pressure monitor. Therefore, it is not eligible for duty-free treatment under subheading 9801.00.10, HTSUS, when it is subsequently returned to the U.S. for repair. This modification of HRL 956830 only concerns the tariff classification of the display panels.


Are the display panels classified under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, as electric sound or visual signaling apparatus, indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's)?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states, in part, that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...."

The display panels at issue are electroluminescent. Although electroluminescent display panels are similar to liquid crystal display panels in that they each are designed to display data or information, they use different technology to achieve their function. Electroluminescent display panels do not incorporate liquid crystal devices. As such, they are not described by the terms of subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, and, therefore, are not classifiable as electric sound or visual signaling apparatus, indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's).

It has come to our attention that the Compendium of Classification Opinions (Compendium) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) includes Opinion 8543.80/1 which concerns the classification of electroluminescent devices. The Compendium consists of the classification opinions adopted by the Customs Co-operation Council (now the World Customs Organization). Opinion 8543.80/1 is a decision that, although originally issued under an earlier nomenclature on which the HS is modeled, was adopted and carried forward as a decision applicable under the HS (See Doc. 33.993/D, adopting decision in Doc. 13.450/F/10). Opinion 8543.80/1 states that subheading 8543.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule, includes:

Electroluminescent devices, generally in the form of tapes, plates or panels, consisting essentially of:

(i) an electroluminescent crystalline substance (usually zinc sulphide) sandwiched between two layers of electrically conductive materials, one of which is transparent (plastics or special glass);

(ii) electrical leads;

(iii) two thin sheets, usually of plastics, sealing and protecting the whole;
when excited by an alternating current, these devices become luminescent over their whole surface and have many applications such as: background lighting, decoration, signalling, etc (emphasis in original).

Similar to the HS Explanatory Notes, the issuance of a classification opinion in the Compendium constitutes the Customs Co-operation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. Although generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the various provision, they are not legally binding on the United States as one of the contracting parties. Thus, while they should be consulted for guidance, these documents should not be treated as dispositive. T.D. 89-90, 23 Cust. Bull. 36 91988), and 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

However, we have carefully reviewed this matter and, in this instance, we are of the opinion that the Compendium Opinion 8543.80/1 concerning the tariff classification of electroluminescent devices is applicable. Therefore, electroluminescent display panels, at issue, are properly classified under subheading 8543.80.98, HTSUS, which provides for:

Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof...Other machines and apparatus...Other...Other...Other....


The electroluminescent display panels are classified under subheading 8543.80.98, HTSUS, as other electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter. Articles classified under this tariff provision are dutiable at the Column 1 rate of 3.6 percent ad valorem. HRL 956830 is modified as set forth in this ruling.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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