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HQ 958953

April 25, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 958953 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 9013.80.60

Donald Alfred Weadon, Jr., Esq.
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Suite 700- North Building
Washington, D.C. 20004-2602

RE: Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Indicator Panel for Typewriters; Signaling Apparatus; Headings 8473, 8531, 9013; Legal Note 1(m) to section XVI; EN 85.31; HQs 951868, 951609, 952360, 952973, 954788, 953115, 952502, 951288, and 957435; HQ 952722, modified

Dear Mr. Weadon:

This is in reference to HQ 952722, issued to you on September 27, 1994, in which several liquid crystal display modules (LCDs) were classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). In the course of ruling on similar merchandise involving LCDS for typewriters, we have determined that HQ 952722 needed to be modified. 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)(1993), notice of the proposed modification of HQ 952722 was published on March 20, 1996, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 30, Number 12. One comment, which disagrees with the proposal, was received in response to the notice.


The subject merchandise is an liquid crystal display (LCD) panel, part number TLX-1151-50BN, for electric typewriters. The LCD panel is attached to a printed circuit board (PCB) with row and column driver integrated circuits, controller chips, Read Only Memory, Random Access Memory, and a mounting bezel. The LCD is ready to be installed/"plug in" condition. ISSUE:

Whether the LCD panel for electric typewriters is classifiable as parts of typewriters, or as a visual signaling indicator panel, or as LCDs not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings, 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 HQ 952722, dated September 27, 1994, Customs determined that the subject LCD panel for electric typewriters along with other LCDs were classifiable under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectric sound or visual signaling apparatus . . . [i]ndicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's)...." To be classified in this subheading, the LCDs must be designed for "signaling."

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS) Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be consulted. The ENs, although not dispositive, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See, T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). EN 85.31, page 1381, is fairly descriptive and restrictive as to the types of "signaling" panels and the function they must perform in order to be classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS. EN 85.31 states indicator panels and the like: "[a]re used (e.g., in offices, hotels and factories) for calling personnel, indicating where a certain person or service is required, indicating whether a room is free or not. They include:

(1) Room indicators. There are large panels with numbers corresponding to a number of rooms. When a button is pressed in the room concerned the corresponding number is either lit up or exposed by the falling away of a shutter or flap.

(2) Number indicators. The signals appear to illuminated figures on the face of a small box; in some apparatus of this kind the calling mechanism is operated by the dial of a telephone. Also clock type indicators in which the numbers are indicated by a hand moving round a dial.

(3) Office indicators, for example, those used to indicate whether the occupant of a particular office is free or not. Some types are merely a simple "come in" or "engaged" sign illuminated at will by the occupant of the office.

(4) Lift indicators. These indicate, on an illuminated board, where the lift is and whether it is going up or down.

(5) Engine room telegraph apparatus for ships.

(6) Station indicating panels for showing the times and platforms of trains.

(7) Indicators for race course, football stadiums, bowling alleys, etc.

Certain of these indicator panels, etc., also incorporate bells or other sound signaling devices (emphasis in original).

Therefore, only those LCD's which are principally used and/or limited by design to "signaling" are classifiable under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS. See HQ 954788, dated December 1, 1993; HQ 953115, dated May 10, 1993; HQ 952502; HQ 951868, dated October 31, 1992; HQ 952360, dated October 15, 1992; and HQ 951288, dated July 7, 1992.

In HQ 957435, dated August 8, 1995, Customs determined that LCDs which are designed and used for electric typewriter displays, are not principally used or designed as signaling/indicator panels. In that ruling, Customs stated that for LCDs to be classifiable under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS, they must display limited indication information to a user, i.e., measurement, coordinates, flow rate, etc. Because the LCDs for electric typewriters displayed more information than typical indicator panels, Customs found that they were not principally used or designed for visual signaling. Customs then considered classification of the LCDs as parts of electric typewriters under heading 8473, HTSUS. However, Legal Note 1(m) to section XVI, HTSUS, states that: "[t]his section does not cover: [a]rticles of chapter 90." Heading 9013, HTSUS, provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings." Therefore, if the subject merchandise is provided for more specifically in another heading, it would not be classifiable in heading 9013, HTSUS. Customs further stated that it is Customs position that heading 8473, HTSUS, which provides for "parts," is not a more specific heading than heading 9013, HTSUS. Therefore, because the subject merchandise was classifiable in heading 9013, HTSUS, it was not classifiable in heading 8473, HTSUS, which falls in section XVI, HTSUS. HQ 957435. See also HQ 952973, dated August 5, 1993; HQ 951609, dated October 20, 1992; HQ 952360; and HQ 951868.

One comment was received in response to the proposed modification. While the comment agrees that the merchandise does not meet the terms of heading 8531, HTSUS, they disagree as to classifying the subject LCDs for typewriters under heading 9013, HTSUS, as opposed to heading 8473, HTSUS. The comment cites to HQ 957723, dated June 2, 1995, in support that an LCD which contains everything necessary to function, was not classifiable under heading 9013, HTSUS. However, HQ 957723 dealt only with the issue of a fixed-LCD or icon-type LCD which did not need row and column drivers to display an image or limited information, because the image was already ingrained into the glass. In its condition as imported, the fixed LCD met the terms of heading 8531, HTSUS, because it was designed solely for displaying limited information. The proper interpretation of this ruling is that the merchandise was not a typical glass sandwich of heading 9013, because it met the terms of signaling in heading 8531, HTSUS.

The comment also argues that the LCDs are "more than" the glass sandwiches of heading 9013, HTSUS, and that the merchandise is properly classifiable under heading 8473, HTSUS, as parts of typewriters. In support of this claim, the comment refers to EN 90.13, which describes LCDs. However, we note that the terms of heading 9013, HTSUS, specifically provide for "Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings". Absent a showing of meeting the terms of headings 8471 or 8531, HTSUS, Customs has consistently held that LCDs are classifiable under 9013, HTSUS. See HQs 954788, 953115, 952502; 951868, 952360, and 951288. Customs has previously addressed the claim that heading 8473, HTSUS, is a more specific provision than heading 9013, HTSUS, in HQ 957435. See also Legal Note 2(a) to Section XVI and Legal Note 2 to Chapter 90, HTSUS, for the treatment of "parts". As to the application of GRI 3(a), we note that classification is resolved through the application of GRI 1, the terms of the headings, and the relevant section and chapter notes.

As stated previously, the LCD panel, part number TLX-1151-50BN, which is designed for use in electric typewriters, displays more information than typical signaling/indicator panels. Therefore, they cannot be classified under heading 8531, HTSUS. Based upon HQ 957435, we find that HQ 952722 must be modified to reflect that LCD panel, part number TLX-1151-50BN, for electric typewriters is classifiable under heading 9013, HTSUS, as LCDs not constituting articles provided for more specifically in another heading.


For the foregoing reasons, the LCD panel, part number TLX-1151-50BN, for electric typewriters is classifiable under subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, which provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings . . . : [o]ther devices, appliances and instruments: [o]ther
. . . . " The column one, general rate of duty is 7.2 percent ad valorem.


HQ 952722, dated September 27, 1994, is hereby modified as set forth in this ruling. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1), this ruling will become effective 60 days after 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

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