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HQ 958451

FEBRUARY 8, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 958451 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8537.10.90

Mary E. Gill, Esq.
Guilford Center 1 - 3A10
P. O. 25000
Greensboro, NC 27420

RE: Switch Assembly; Rubber Dialpad, Rubberized Domes for Making Connections to Printed Wiring Board in Corded Telephone Sets; Heading 8517, Parts for Telephone Sets; Apparatus for Electric Control or the Distribution of Electricity; HQ 958708, HQ 958709, HQ 958711

Dear Ms. Gill:

In a letter, dated July 28, 1995, you inquire as to the tariff classification of switch assemblies for corded telephone sets. Samples were submitted.


Submitted samples of the switch assemblies in issue are of rubber, in the form of squares, rectangles, strips, or individual pieces. You state that while the same or similar technology is used in computer keyboards, calculators and childrens' games, these samples are used in corded telephones. The square sample illustrates their method of operation. It is in the shape of a telephone dialpad and measures 2 ½ x 2 ½ inches. It has twelve (12) raised rubber domes each with a molded plastic cap with numerals and letters. The assembly is designed to attach to the surface of the printed wiring board (PWB) of a corded telephone. As the user depresses a rubber dome a black carbonized dot of conductive rubber on the underside of the dome makes contact with the surface of the PWB beneath it. This joins two ends of the electrical path on the PWB, thus completing an electric circuit.

You state that by function and design switch assemblies represented by the samples have two or more of the apparatus of headings 8535 or 8536 mounted on a board or panel. For this reason, you maintain they are boards or panels for electric - 2 -
control or the distribution of electricity of the type classifiable in subheading 8537.10.90, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8517 Electrical apparatus for line telephony or telegraphy, including such apparatus for carrier-current line systems; parts thereof:

8517.90 Parts:

Other parts, incorporating printed circuit assemblies:

8517.90.12 Parts for telephone sets...8.5 percent

8537 Boards, panels (including numerical control panels), consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity * * *:

8537.10 For a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V:

8537.10.90 Other...4.8 percent


Whether the switch assemblies for corded telephone sets are parts for tariff purposes; whether they are boards or panels of heading 8537.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 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, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and - 3 -
are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Subject to certain exceptions that are not relevant here, goods that are identifiable parts of machines or apparatus of Chapter 84 or Chapter 85 are classifiable in accordance with Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS. Nidec Corporation v. United States, 861 F. Supp. 136, aff'd. 68 F. 3d 1333 (1995). Parts which are goods included in any of the headings of Chapters 84 and 85 are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings. See Note 2(a). Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading, are to be classified with the machines of that kind. See Note 2(b).

The design of the switch assemblies represented by the square sample and the rectangular sample suggests that they are principally, if not solely used with telephone sets. This leads to a consideration of subheading 8517.90.12. However, relevant ENs at p. 1391, state that the goods of heading 85.37 consist of an assembly of apparatus of the kind referred to in headings 85.35 and 85.36 (e.g., switches and fuses) on a board, panel, console, etc., or mounted in a cabinet, desk, etc., for electric control or distribution of electricity. The switch assemblies in the shape of squares, rectangles, strips and individual pieces, each consist of collapsible protrusions or domes on a rubber pad, each dome constituting a switch, and each containing a conductive rubber contact. These switch assemblies meet the description in heading 8537 as a base equipped with two or more apparatus of headings 8535 or 8536 (i.e., switches) for electric control or the distribution of electricity, as required by Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS. HQ 958708, HQ 958709 and HQ 958711, each dated February 6, 1996, are in accord.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the switch assemblies for corded telephone sets, in the form of squares, rectangles, strips and individual pieces, are provided for in heading 8537. They are classifiable in subheading 8537.10.90, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification

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