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 > 1997 HQ Rulings > HQ 958475 - HQ 958870 > HQ 958726

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 958726

May 5, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 958726 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 8541.10.00

Mr. Louis Schneider
Wasserman, Schneider & Babb
90 John Street
New York, NY 10038

RE: Bridge Rectifier Diodes; Thyristor Modules; Electrical Static Converters; Legal Notes 2 and 5 to Chapter 85; Headings 8504 and 8541; ABB Power Transmission v. United States, Slip Op. 95-141; HQ 086223 and HQ 085540, revoked

Dear Mr. Schneider:

This is in response to your letter dated November 1, 1995, requesting reconsideration of HQ 086223, dated April 11, 1990, which affirmed HQ 085540, dated February 18, 1989, on behalf of General Instrument Corporation. In HQ 086223 and HQ 085540, Customs determined the tariff classification of bridge rectifier diodes under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). 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 revocation of HQ 085540 and HQ 086223 was published on April 2, 1997, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 31, Number 14.


The merchandise consists of the General Instrument series KBPC6 Bridge Rectifier Diodes (BRD's). The BRD's are comprised of four discrete rectifier diodes or cells connected together into a bridge configuration, some with mountings, housings and integral cooling attachments. Each of the four diodes is a two terminal device with a single p-n junction which allows current to pass in one direction.

The articles have four terminals and an asymmetrical voltage-current characteristic used for the purpose of rectification. All the series KBPC6 BRD's are used for the function of converting alternating current to direct current. The BRDs are used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products, such as power supplies, personal computers and associated equipment (i.e., printers and monitors).


Are the BRD's classified as diodes under heading 8541, HTSUS, or as static converters under heading 8504, 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.

Legal Note 2 to chapter 85, HTSUS, states that: "[h]eadings 8501 to 8504 do not apply to goods described in heading 8511, 8512, 8540, 8541 or 8542." The HTSUS clearly indicates that merchandise classifiable under heading 8541 takes precedence over heading 8504 as evidenced by Legal Note 5 to chapter 85, which provides in pertinent part:

For the purposes of headings 8541 and 8542:

(a) "Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices" are semiconductor devices the operation of which depends on variations in resistivity on the application of an electric field;

For the classification of the articles defined in this note, headings 8541 and 8542 shall take precedence over any other heading in the tariff schedule which might cover them by reference to, in particular, their function.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). EN 85.41 states in pertinent part: "[d]iodes which are two-terminal devices with a single p n junction; they allow current to pass in one direction (forward) but offer a very high resistance in the other (reverse). They are used for detection, rectification, switching, etc. The main types of diodes are signal diodes, power rectifier diodes, voltage regulator diodes, voltage reference diodes."

In HQ 085540, dated December 18, 1989, Customs determined that the BRDs did not satisfy the description of diodes within the terms of heading 8541, HTSUS, because the BRD is composed of four of these two terminal devices which pass current in two directions. Customs further found that because the BRD are used to transfer energy from alternating current to direct current, it met the terms of heading 8504, HTSUS, which provides for static converters. EN 85.04, which defines the scope of static converters of heading 8504, HTSUS, states in pertinent part:


The apparatus of this group are used to convert electrical energy in order to adapt it for further use. They incorporate converting elements (e.g., valves) of different types. They may also incorporate various auxiliary devices (e.g., transformers, induction coils, resistors, command regulators, etc.). Their operation is based on the principle that the converting elements act alternately as conductors and non-conductors.

The fact that these apparatus often incorporate auxiliary circuits to regulate the voltage of the emerging current does not affect their classification in this group, nor does the fact that they are sometimes referred to as voltage or current regulators.

This group includes:

(A) Rectifiers by which alternating current (single or polyphase) is converted to direct current, generally accompanied by a voltage change.

Electrical static converters may be divided into the following principal categories according to the type of converting element with which they are equipped:

(1) Semiconductor converters based on the one-way conductivity between certain crystals. Such converters consist of a semiconductor as the converting element and various other devices (e.g., coolers, tape conductors, drives, regulators, control circuits).

These include:

(a) Monocrystalline semiconductor rectifiers using, as a converting element, a device containing silicon or germanium crystals (diode, thyristor, transistor).

(b) Polycrystalline semiconductor rectifiers using a selenium disc.

In a request to reconsider HQ 085540, Customs recognized that a BRD's individual diodes, if classified separately from each other, may meet the Legal Note 5(A) to chapter 85 definition for diodes and be classified under heading 8541, HTSUS. However, the merchandise in its condition as imported, consisted of assemblies which were designed to perform a principal function of rectifying alternating current to direct current, a function specifically described by another heading of the HTSUS. Therefore, Customs concluded that the BRDs met the terms of heading 8504, HTSUS, as static converters, and affirmed HQ 085540. (See HQ 086223, dated April 11, 1990.)

You claim that the proper classification of the BRDs should be under heading 8541, HTSUS, based upon a decision by the Court of International Trade (CIT). In ABB Power Transmission v. United States, 896 F.Supp. 1279, CIT Slip Op. 95-141 (August 4, 1995), the CIT determined that a thyristor module consisting of six thyristors connected in a series, heatsinks, voltage divider circuits and electronic "firing" circuitry mounted onto a frame, was classifiable under heading 8541, HTSUS. Even though the thyristor module contained significant components in addition to thyristors, the court found that the function the module performs falls within the definition of a thyristor as a similar semiconductor device.

Based upon Legal Notes 2 and 5 to chapter 85, HTSUS, and the rationale in ABB Power Transmission, we find that the subject BRDs, which are made up of individual diodes, are classifiable under heading 8541, HTSUS, as other diodes. Because of the decision in ABB Power Transmission we find that HQ 086223 and HQ 085540 must be revoked.


The BRDs are classifiable under subheading 8541.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[d]iodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, including photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made up into panels . . . : [d]iodes, other than photosensitive or light-emitting diodes. . . ." The general, column one rate of duty is free.


HQ 086223, dated April 11, 1990, and HQ 085540, dated December 18, 1989, are revoked. 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

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: