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HQ 962904

June 20, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 962904 GOB


TARIFF NO.: 8517.21.00

Ms. Fusae Nara
Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts
One Battery Park Plaza
New York, NY 10004-1490

RE: Facsimile machine; Plain paper laser facsimile; Condition as imported

Dear Ms. Nara:

This is in response to your letter of June 3, 1999 on behalf of Sharp Electronics Corporation (“Sharp”), in which you request reconsideration of PD E81158, issued by the Customs Port Director, Boston, on May 18, 1999, concerning the classification of a laser facsimile machine.


In PD E81158, Customs in Boston determined that the Sharp Model FO-2850 plain paper laser facsimile is classified in subheading 8517.21.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”).

In your reconsideration request you describe the subject article as follows:

The merchandise subject to this request is a multifunction plain paper facsimile machine incorporating a laser printer engine capable of printing and copying, which is imported with a toner cartridge

When an optional FO-28MK multifunction kit is installed, Model No. FO-2850 functions as a printer. As shown in the installation manual of FO-28MK , the optional kit includes a CD-ROM and a parallel interface cable. When the software is installed and Model No. FO-2850 is connected to a personal computer using the parallel interface cable, Model No. FO-2850 becomes a printer compatible with most Windows applications and documents can be printed from a personal computer directly connected thereto. Model No. FO-2850 features 600 gpi resolution and is capable of printing 4.5 pages per minute when printing on standard letter size paper.

The subject model is capable of sending and receiving ordinary faxes and, with additional software included in FO-28MK, can also function as a so-called PC fax, where a user can send faxes directly from a personal computer connected thereto. The subject merchandise also functions as a digital copier, and documents can be copied using a document feeder.

The subject article is advertised as the “Sharp FO-2850 plain paper laser facsimile” according to the marketing brochure. The article has a design typical of a facsimile machine and includes a 14,400 bps modem, laser printer and scanner. It appears to be a desktop machine designed for small and home office use. The marketing brochure refers to the “mutifunction option” and provides: “With the addition of the FO-28MK multifunction kit, the FO-2850 can be transformed into your on-line partner in document management The FO-28MK Kit includes bi-directional parallel cable and multifunction software.”

Photocopied materials entitled “FO-28MK Multifunction Kit Manual,” which were submitted with your request, provide in pertinent part:

The FO-2850 is a facsimile that can perform basic copy functions, but by installing the FO-2850 Utility Software included in the FO-28MK Multifunction Kit, it can also be used as a laser printer and scanner. PC faxing can also be performed, by using the WinFax LITE in the CD-ROM.

The unit is shipped from the factory with a resin cover over the parallel interface connector. In order to connect the parallel interface cable included in the FO-28MK Multifunction Kit to the unit, this cover must first be removed

The same materials indicate that the following items are included in the FO-28MK Multifunction Kit Manual: CD-ROM; parallel interface cable; and multifunction kit manual.

According to information provided by the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, the subject article was listed on Sharp’s web site as a “plain paper laser fax;” it was not listed on Sharp’s web site in the category entitled “multifunctional fax.”

With respect to the classification of the subject article you state:

Model No. FO-2850 is prima facie classifiable under heading 8471, heading 8517 or heading 9009, HTSUS

Model No. FO-2850 is a composite good made up of different components which are described under different provisions of the HTSUS

The essential character of Sharp’s Model No. FO-2850 is given by the printing mechanism incorporating the laser engine. It is the central feature used in each of the product’s functions. It is used not only when the product functions as a printer but also when it functions as a facsimile machine or copier. Applying GRI 3(b), the product should be classified under heading 8471 as an output unit of an ADP machine because the printing mechanism imparts the essential character of the multifunction digital printer, facsimile and copier systems.


The tariff classification of the Sharp Model FO-2850 plain paper laser facsimile – is it provided for in heading 8471, heading 8517, or heading 9009, HTSUS?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRI’s”). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI’s may then be applied.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“EN’s”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the EN’s 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.

Heading 8471 covers:

Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, not elsewhere specified or included[.]

Sharp contends that the subject article is classified in subheading 8471.60.52, HTSUS as “Input or output units, whether or not containing storage units in the same housing: Other: Printer units: Assembled units incorporating at least the media transport, control and print mechanisms: Laser: Other[.]”

Heading 8517 covers:

Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, including line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof[.]

The port classified the article in subheading 8517.21.00, HTSUS as “Facsimile machines and teleprinters: Facsimile machines[.]”

Heading 9009 covers:

Photocopying apparatus incorporating an optical system or of the contact type and thermocopying apparatus; parts and accessories thereof[.]

Customs has consistently followed the long-standing classification principle stated by the Supreme Court in United States v. Citroen, 223 U.S. 407, 414-15, 32 S. Ct. 259, 56 L.Ed. 486 (1911):

[t]he rule is well established that “in order to produce uniformity in the imposition of duties, the dutiable classification of articles imported must be ascertained by an examination of the imported article itself, in the condition in which it is imported.” Worthington v. Robbins, 139 U.S. 337,341, 35 L. Ed. 181, 182, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 581; Dwight v. Merritt, 140 U.S. 213, 219, 35 L. Ed. 450, 452, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 768; United States v. Schoverling, 146 U.S. 76, 82, 36 L. Ed. 893, 895, 13 Sup. Ct. Rep. 24; United States v. Irwin (C.C.A. 2d C.) 24 C.C.A. 349, 45 U.S. App. 746, 78 Fed. 799, 802. [Emphasis supplied.]

In its condition as imported, the subject article is a facsimile machine. The article needs the optional kit in order to be able to perform functions above and beyond those of a facsimile machine.

As stated in the FACTS section, above, Sharp refers to the subject article as a “plain paper laser fax” in its marketing brochure. According to information provided by our National Commodity Specialist Division, it also listed the article under this designation on its web site.

We find that HQ 961153 of March 30, 1998, cited by you, is distinguishable from the present case. The article here, as imported, is a facsimile machine and, at the time of importation, is not capable of the additional functions that the machine in HQ 961153 was.

We find that NY B87181 of July 2, 1997, also cited by you, is not on point because that ruling involved a digital imaging system.

We find that, at GRI 1, the subject article is provided for in heading 8517, HTSUS and is classified in subheading 8517.21.00, HTSUS, as “Facsimile machines and teleprinters: Facsimile machines[.]”


At GRI 1, the subject article is provided for in heading 8517, HTSUS and is classified in subheading 8517.21.00, HTSUS as “Facsimile machines and teleprinters: Facsimile machines[.]”

PD E81158 is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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