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 > 2002 HQ Rulings > HQ 964372 - HQ 964557 > HQ 964555

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 964555

October 18, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964555 BJB


TARIFF NO.: 8536.69.40

Port Director of Customs
111 West Huron Street
Buffalo, NY 14202-2378

RE: Internal Advice 00/22; Printed Circuit Connectors; RJ Series Modular Jacks

Dear Port Director:

The following is in response to your memorandum (CLA-1-0:COD:JM), dated August 30, 2000, forwarding a request for internal advice (IA 00/22; G81960), submitted by counsel on behalf of Amphenol Canada Corporation (“Amphenol”), concerning the classification of RJ series connectors under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). Counsel’s letter of July 14, 2000, and attachments, were provided for our examination. On October 10, 2001, counsel and Amphenol experts held a telephone conference with a representative of our office and made a supplemental submission of October 15, 2001. We regret the delay in responding.


Based upon the information and exhibits provided, the merchandise consists of “RJ” series of electrical connectors. The RJ series of modular jack electrical connectors are used to connect twisted pair telecommunication cable to printed circuit boards used in computer and telecommunication applications. RJ series are all fitted with plastic clips on their base to facilitate mounting into holes on printed circuit boards. Amphenol states that its RJ series are all modular jack connectors and are one type of electrical connectors commonly referred to in its industry as “printed circuit connectors.”

You determined that the connectors are classifiable in subheading 8536.69.80, HTSUS, as “electrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits for a voltage not exceeding 1000V: Lamp-holders, plugs and sockets: Other: Other.” Customs at the Port of Detroit determined that these same connectors are classifiable in subheading 8536.69.40, HTSUS,
as “[e]lectrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits for a voltage not exceeding 1,000V: Lamp-holders, plugs and sockets: Other: Printed circuit connectors.” Amphenol concurs with the Detroit position.


Whether the RJ series of modular jack electrical connectors are classifiable in subheading 8536.69.40, HTSUS, as “printed circuit connectors;” or subheading 8536.69.80, HTSUS, as “other” types of plugs and sockets?


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 GRIs may then be applied.

The HTSUS heading and subheadings under consideration are as follows:

8536 Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (for example, switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders, junction boxes), for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V:

Lamp-holders, plugs and sockets:

8536.69 Other:

8536.69.40 Coaxial connectors; cylindrical multicontact connectors; rack and panel connectors; printed circuit connectors; ribbon or flat cable connectors

8536.69.80 Other

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

The goods at issue are described within heading 8536, as “electrical apparatus . . . for making connections to or in electrical circuits . . . for a voltage not exceeding 1,000V. Further, there is no dispute that these articles, in their condition as imported, are classifiable in subheading 8536.69, HTSUS, as “electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for connections to or in electrical circuits . . ., for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: Lamp-holders, plugs and sockets: Other[.]” As a result of the Information Technology Agreement, (see 62 FR 35909 (July 2, 1997)), subheading 8536.69.00, HTSUS, was divided into subheadings 8536.69.40 and 8536.69.80, HTSUS, and guidance is being sought as to the appropriate eight-digit level classification for this merchandise.

GRI 6 requires that the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings, any related subheading notes, and mutatis mutandis, to the GRIs, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable.

Plugs and sockets are described in 8536 EN (III)(A)(1) as follows:

“(III) Apparatus For Making Connections To Or In Electrical Circuits

This apparatus is used to connect together the various parts of an electrical circuit. It includes:

Plugs, sockets and other contacts for connecting a movable lead or apparatus to an installation which is usually fixed. This category includes:

(1) Plugs and sockets (including those for connecting two movable leads). A plug may have one or more pins or side contacts which match corresponding holes or contacts in the socket. The rim of one of the pins may be used for earthing purposes.”

In addition, tariff terms may be construed in accordance with their common and commercial meanings. Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc., v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable resource materials. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982).

At GRI 1, subheading 8536.69.40, HTSUS, specifies different types of connectors, including cylindrical multicontact connectors, rack and panel connectors, ribbon or flat cable connectors, and printed circuit connectors. The term “printed circuit connectors,” like the other types of connectors in this subheading are not defined in the tariff. If these goods do not meet the terms of subheading 8536.69.40, HTSUS, by virtue of GRI 6, they would fall to be classified in 8536.69.80, HTSUS.

We have reviewed numerous lexicons for a definition of the term “printed circuit connector.” The Electronic Engineer’s Master Online Glossary, (www.eem.com) provides the following:

“Printed circuit connector: Connectors which are used in conjunction with printed circuit boards. There are two distinctly different styles.

Edgeboard. May be called edge or card. The printed circuit (PC) board edge enters the connector.

Two-piece: One part of the connecting pair is physically attached to the PC board itself. The other part is attached to something else such as a cable or a motherboard.”

Although the The Computer Glossary, 8th Ed., p. 356, by Alan Freedman, does not provide a specific definition for a “printed circuit connector,” it does provide a definition of the terms “RJ-11, RJ-45,” which are two of Amphenol’s connectors in its RJ series, and standard in the electrical connector industry.

“RJ-11 is the four-wire connector used for telephone plugs and sockets. RJ-45 is an eight-wire connector widely used for Ethernet and Token Ring connections.”

Counsel and Amphenol experts state that all of Amphenol’s RJ series are modular jacks with pins or contacts that match corresponding holes or contacts on printed circuits. As such, this merchandise conforms to the general industry definition of a “printed circuit connector,” set forth above. Moreover, these articles meet the description provided in the ENs. They are plugs used for connecting moveable leads or apparatus to a fixed installation, i.e., a printed circuit board to which they are permanently affixed.

At GRI 1, the modular jack connectors of the RJ series are “printed circuit connectors,” specifically provided for in subheading 8536.69.40, HTSUS.

Our determination is supported by New York Ruling (NY) D87005, dated February 16, 1999, which classified a printed circuit board mount jack used on printed circuit boards to allow the connection of cable to the printed circuit board, in subheading 8536.69.40, HTSUS.


Under the authority of GRI 1 and GRI 6, the subject RJ printed circuit connectors are classifiable under subheading 8536.69.40, HTSUS, as printed circuit connectors for making connections to or in electrical circuits.

You are directed to mail this decision to the internal advice applicant, no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other public methods of distribution.


Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: