United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1996 HQ Rulings > HQ 959031 - HQ 959256 > HQ 959139

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 959139

AUGUST 16, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 959139 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 9001.90.40, 9002.90.95

Mr. Walter R. Manns
Ford Motor Company
P.O. Box 6094
Dearborn, MI 48121

RE: NY 8187 86 affirmed; plastic lenses for automobile lamps, mounted and unmounted; front parking lamp lenses, side marker lamp lenses, tail light lenses; lenses with molded patterns to direct light from the bulb; optical elements; parts of lighting equipment, subheading 8512.90; Section XVI, Note 1(m); NY 816227, NY 818099

Dear Mr. Manns:

In your letter of April 4, 1996, you ask that we reconsider a ruling to Ford on the classification of plastic automotive lamp lenses. Samples and drawings were submitted.


In NY 818786, dated March 1, 1996, the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, held that five (5) models of plastic automotive lamp lenses produced in Canada and Mexico were classifiable as lenses and other optical elements, in subheading 9001.90.40, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), if unmounted, and in subheading 9002.90.95, HTSUS, if mounted. Samples designated F2DB-13450-AC, F37B-13450 and F24B-13540 are tail lamp covers, sample F4SB-13202-AA is a front parking lamp and side marker, and sample F5ZB-13450-BAW is a tail lamp cover in a plastic frame. The five samples are clear, yellow and red in color, depending on their location and function on the vehicle, and have patterns molded into the plastic for the purpose of directing light from the front parking lamp bulbs, the tail light lamp bulbs, and the side marker lamp bulbs.

You maintain these plastic lenses are more appropriately parts of electrical lighting or signaling equipment of a kind used on motor vehicles, provided for in HTS subheading 8512.90. Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the HTSUS predecessor tariff code, electric lighting equipment designed for motor vehicle use, and parts thereof, were unconditionally free of duty under item 683.65. You note that under the HTSUS, item 683.65 was converted to subheadings 8512.90.20 and 8512.90.90. Under these provisions, automotive lamp lenses which are Canadian articles and original motor-vehicle equipment are eligible for duty-free entry under the Automotive Products Trade Act of 1965, as amended (APTA). However, no such APTA breakouts exist under subheadings 9001.90.40 and 9002.90.95. In addition, you express concern that the lamp lenses are not optical elements under these provisions because they are not within the term "optically worked" as defined in Chapter 90, Additional U.S. Note 1, HTSUS.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8512 Electrical lighting or signaling equipment...of a kind used for cycles or motor vehicles...:

8512.90 Parts:

8512.90.20 Of signaling equipment...2.6 percent ad valorem (Free under APTA)

Of lighting equipment:

8512.90.60 Other...Free

8512.90.90 Other...2.9 percent ad valorem (Free under APTA)

9001 ...; lenses, prisms, mirrors and other optical elements, of any material, unmounted...:

9001.90 Other:

9001.90.40 Lenses...4.2 percent ad valorem

9002 Lenses, prisms, mirrors and other optical elements, unmounted...:

9002.90 Other:


9002.90.95 Other...6.2 percent ad valorem


Whether plastic automotive lamp lenses are optical elements for tariff purposes.


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 ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Whether an optical element need be "optically worked" is relevant only to distinguish optical elements of glass of chapter 90 from similar glass articles of chapter 70. The issue is not relevant to articles of plastic. The ENs at p. 1459 include within heading 90.01 (D) Optical elements of any material other than glass, whether or not optically worked, not permanently mounted (e.g., elements of...plastics). Heading 90.01, therefore, includes non-glass articles that qualify as optical elements even though they have not been optically worked. For purposes of clarification, heading 70.14 ENs at p. 937 include - 4 -

(B) Optical elements of glass (colourless or coloured). The heading includes elements which are manufactured in such a way that they produce some required optical effect without being optically worked. (Underlining added). Among others, these articles include mainly lenses and similar articles for automobile headlamps, parking lights, direction indication lights. The ENs for chapters 70 and 90, read in para materia, suggest that plastic automotive lens covers may be considered optical elements of chapter 90 if manufactured in such a way as to impart optical properties. In common meaning, the term Lens (optics) is defined as "A curved piece of ground and polished or molded material, usually glass, used for the refraction of light (Underlining added). McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Vol. 9 (1987), p. 663.

In this case, the plastic articles represented by the submitted samples all have clearly defined horizontal and/or vertical patterns, often together with dot-like configurations, molded into their surfaces. These appear designed to refract or diffuse light from the lamps they are used with. The submitted blueprints designate these patterns low and high spread "optics," flute and pillow "optics," and transition "optics." We conclude that these lamp lenses are optical articles for purposes of chapter 90. Substantially similar automotive lenses of plastic have consistently been classified in subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS. NY 816227, dated November 30, 1995, and NY 818099, dated February 2, 1996. Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, precludes heading 8512 from consideration.


Under the authority of GRI 1, plastic automotive lamp lenses represented by the five (5) submitted samples are provided for in heading 9001, if unmounted, or in heading 9002 if permanently mounted, that is, fitted in a support or frame, etc. They are classifiable in subheadings 9001.90.40 or 9002.90.95, HTSUS, as appropriate.

NY 818786, dated March 1, 1996, is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: