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HQ 964495

February 12, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964495AM


TARIFF NO.: 8513.10.20

Ms. Barbara Y. Wierbicki
Tompkins and Davidson, LLP
One Astor Plaza 1515 Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10036-8901

RE: Retractable Flashlight

Dear Ms. Wierbicki:

This is in reference to your letter, on behalf of Avon Products, Inc., dated August 7, 2000, to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, concerning the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of a "retractable flashlight." Your letter was referred to this office for reply.


The sample submitted, item # PP212640, is a battery-operated, cylindrical-shaped combination flashlight and desk lamp that consists of a filament bulb, a reflector, a clear plastic lens and a slide-switch light mechanism. Both functions (as a flashlight and as a desk lamp), are controlled by the slide-switch light mechanism, share a common power source and filament bulb.

To convert the article for use as a table lamp, the lamp head, which is attached to two telescoping antenna-like arms, is extended upwards to approximately 10 inches. When extended, the lamp head can be tilted downward to approximately a 170 degree angle. The article fits into a round weighted base that has a diameter of approximately 2 ½ inches and the pieces are notched to fit together. This enables the device to be placed vertically on a leveled surface for use as a desk lamp or lantern. It is noted that even when extended, the lamp can still be held in the hand by its housing and used as a flashlight.


What is the classification of a combination flashlight and desk lamp?


Merchandise imported into the U.S. is classified under the HTSUS. Tariff classification is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context that requires otherwise, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUS and are to be considered statutory provisions of law. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any related section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order. GRI 6 requires that the classification of goods in the subheadings of headings shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings, any related subheading notes and mutatis mutandis, to the GRIs. In interpreting the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System may be utilized. The ENs, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUSA. See T.D. 8980, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (August 23, 1989).

The following HTSUS subheadings are under consideration:

Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy (for example, dry batteries, storage batteries, magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof:



8513.10.40 Other [than flashlights]

The Section XVI, HTSUS, legal notes state, in pertinent part, the following:

Unless the context otherwise requires, composite machines consisting of two or more machines fitted together to form a whole and other machines adapted for the purpose of performing two or more complementary or alternative functions are to be classified as if consisting only of that component or as being that machine which performs the principal function.

5. For the purposes of these Notes, the expression “machine ” means any machine, machinery, plant, equipment, apparatus or appliance cited in the headings of Chapter 84 or 85.

The ENs to the section notes state, in pertinent part, the following:


In general, multi-function machines are classified according to the principal function of the machine.

Where it is not possible to determine the principal function, and where, as provided in Note 3 to the Section, the context does not otherwise require, it is necessary to apply General Interpretative Rule 3 (c); such is the case, for example, in respect of multi-function machines potentially classifiable in several of the headings 84.25 to 84.30, in several of the headings 84.58 to 84.63 or in several of the headings 84.69 to 84.72.

There is no dispute that the subject goods are described by and are thus classifiable in heading 8513, HTSUS. The issue arises at the 8 digit level. Therefore, we begin the analysis using GRI 6. Flashlights have been defined as small, battery operated, portable electric lights normally held in the hand by the housing. Sanyo Electric Inc. v. United States, 496 F.Supp. 1311, aff’d., 642 F.2d 435 (1981). The primary function of a flashlight is to project a beam of light. Subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, covers flashlights. Subheading 8513.10.40, HTSUS, covers all other portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy. Here, the lighting device functions as a flashlight with a telescoping head and base to enable it to temporarily be used as a desk lamp or lantern. It is our view that the "other" provision, subheading 8513.10.40, HTSUS, does not cover the telescoping head and base feature, in other words, part of the good. Instead that provision refers to portable lamps other than flashlights. Since the device in question projects a beam of light, is battery-operated and is held in the hand by its housing, it is a flashlight and can not simultaneously be considered something "other than a flashlight." See, Headquarters Ruling Letters (HQ) 951855, dated July 24, 1992; HQ 084852, dated March 28, 1990; HQ 953262, dated July 26, 1993, and HQ 962528, dated February 18, 2000). Hence, as between the two subheadings at issue, only the text of subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, describes this article, and it does so eo nomine.

Moreover, section note XVI note 3 dictates that a multi-function machine, such as this one, should be classified according to its principle function. Here the principle function of the article is as a flashlight. The article meets the definition of a flashlight as established in Sanyo Electric, supra, and will be used as such. The telescoping head and stand are secondary attributes.

You claim that the lighting device described in NY B85332, dated May 22 1997, and classified in subheading 8513.10.40, HTSUS, governs this case. We have reviewed NY B85332 and believe the item therein described, referred to as a "disco stick", is distinguishable from the instant merchandise. The disco stick does not project a beam of light in the same way that the subject "retractable flashlight" projects light.

You claim that the instant merchandise is a composite good and, using GRI 3(b), that the essential character of this article is its use as a desk lamp. Alternatively, you argue that the essential character can not be determined and, using GRI 3(c), the merchandise is classified in the later descriptive subheading, in this case, 8513.10.40, HTSUS.

First, GRI 3 can only be used when goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more subheadings. That is not the case here as discussed above. The merchandise is classifiable at GRI 1 in the eo nomine provision for flashlights in subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS.

Arguendo, the classification of the merchandise is governed by GRI 3(b), for reasons stated above, the essential character of the product is imparted by its flashlight qualities. The essential character of this merchandise can be determined and we need not resort to GRI 3(c) for classification purposes.


The merchandise is classified in subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, the provision for "[P]ortable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy (for example, dry batteries, storage batteries, magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof: [L]amps: [F]lashlight."


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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