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HQ 958709

FEBRUARY 6, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 958709 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8537.10.90

George Kleinfeld, Esq.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
1615 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-5694

RE: HQ 087362 Revoked; Keyboard/Panel Switch for Cellular Mobile Telephone; Parts of Transmission Apparatus for Radiotelephony Whether or Not Incorporating Reception Apparatus, Heading 8529; Bases for Electric Control or the Distribution of Electricity, Heading 8537, Nidec Corporation v. U.S., Section XVI, Note 2

Dear Mr. Kleinfeld:

This is in reference to HQ 087362, dated February 19, 1991, in which we replied to your inquiry on behalf of NEC America, Inc., dated May 11, 1990, concerning the tariff classification of a keyboard/panel switch for cellular mobile telephones. In that ruling we confirmed that the merchandise was classifiable in subheading 8529.90.50 (now 99), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), a provision for other parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8525 to 8528.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed revocation of HQ 087362, was published on January 3, 1996, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 30, Number 1. The one comment received in response to this notice favored the proposal. The commenter noted that the merchandise in issue is plainly described by the language of heading 8537, and that neither the heading text nor the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes contains limiting language that reduces the scope of heading 8537 to encompass only large scale equipment.


As described in HQ 087362, the keyboard/panel switch, also referred to as a keyboard and a keyboard assembly, is comprised of 20 push button type switches, 14 pin type connectors, and 11 metal contacts, all affixed to a printed circuit board. After importation, the article is inserted into the logic board of a cellular mobile telephone (CMT). When a key on the CMT dialpad is depressed the keyboard/panel switch diverts an electrical signal along a certain path so that the logic circuit board assembly recognizes the path. The keyboard/panel switch enables the user to make a telephone call or to avail himself of the other functions of the CMT.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8529 Parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8525 to 8528:

8529.90 Other:

8529.90.99 Other...4.7 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 keyboard/panel switch is a good included in 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 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 as 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 kind of 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).

As explained on p. 2 of HQ 087362, when the user depresses a key on the CMT keypad, the keyboard/panel switch diverts an electrical signal along a path so that the logic board of the CMT recognizes the key typed. It was concluded that the keyboard/panel switch was not described by the terms of heading 8537. We disagree. 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. The keyboard/panel switch in issue contains multiple switches, together with connectors and contacts, and functions by closing an electronic loop that switches an electric signal to the appropriate port on the CMT logic board. It meets the description in heading 8537 as a base for electric control or the distribution of electricity, as required by Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the keyboard/panel switch is provided for in heading 8537. It is classifiable in subheading 8537.10.90, HTSUS.

HQ 087362, dated February 19, 1991, is hereby revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1) does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)).


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification
Appeals Division

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