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HQ 965636

August 30, 2002

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 965636 TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8472.90.80

Ms. Fusae Nara
Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts
One Battery Park Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10004

RE: Sharp Electronics; AR-335; AR-5132; Multi-function Digital Office Machine; Copier; Optional Printer Interface; NY D87961 Revoked.

Dear Ms. Nara:

This is in reference to NY D87961, issued to you on February 25, 1999, in response to your letter of February 12, 1999 to the Director, Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting a tariff classification ruling on the Sharp models AR-335 and AR-5132 multi-function digital office machines under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”).

NY D87961 classified the multi-function digital office machines under subheading 8471.60.6100, HTSUS. We have had an opportunity to review this classification, and now believe it to be incorrect for the reasons explained below. This ruling also provides the correct classification for the Sharp AR-335 and AR-5132.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), notice of the proposed revocation of NY D87961 was published on July 24, 2002, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 36, Number 30. Three comments were received in response to the notice.


The products at issue are finished multi-function digital office machines, Sharp models AR-335 and AR-5132. They are described in NY D87961 as follows:

The merchandise under consideration involves the models AR-5132 and AR-335 digital copier/printers which incorporate a laser printer engine. Both models are designed to be used as output units in an automatic data processing (ADP) machine environment, in addition to functioning as a copier.

When an optional controller board is attached, the AR-5132 and the AR-335 function as a printer. Documents can be printed from a personal computer directly connected to the parallel port of either model or from personal computers connected to model AR-5132 or model AR-335 by means of a local area network (LAN).

The AR-5132 features 400 dots per inch (dpi) resolution and is capable of printing more than 20 pages per minute when printing on standard letter size paper. The resolution of the AR-335 is 600 dpi. It is also capable of printing more than 20 pages of standard letter size paper per minute.

The AR-5132 and AR-335 multifunctional digital copier/printers also function as digital copiers. When used as copiers, the merchandise produces black and white copies with 256 levels of gradation. The digital copier incorporates a scanning mechanism that reads the document to be copied, which is converted into digital signals which are then fed to the internal printer memory. A copy of the document is then printed from the internal printer memory by using the laser print mechanism. Thus when the subject multifunction equipment is used as a digital copier, the system uses the same laser printer engine that is used for printing documents when the product is used as a printer.


A printer interface is an optional item for both machines. This interface would allow them to function as ADP laser printers. However, this part is not in the machines at time of importation.

All of the comments to the proposed revocation asked for clarification as to the definition of an “optional controller” and “optional printer controller.” The printer controller is the necessary component for a MFD machine to communicate with an ADP machine. It contains a processor, ROM and RAM chips and associated components for electrical connectivity. It facilitates communication through a port, such as a parallel port, or USB port. The primary languages used for communication are Printer Command Language (“PCL”) and Postscript. The controller structures the data it receives from the ADP machine in order to create the correct page layout. It sets page margins, arranges words and inserts graphics. When Customs uses the term “optional,” it is referring to fact that this device is not present in the MFD machine at the time of its importation, but may be added at a later point in time, either by the importer, a third party, or the ultimate consumer. It is a necessary component for the MFD copier to properly function as a unit of an ADP machine.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Printing machinery used for printing by means of printing type, blocks, plates, cylinders and other printing components of heading 8442; ink-jet printing machines, other than those of heading 8471; machines for uses ancillary to printing; parts thereof:

8471 Automatic data processing machines, and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto media in coded form and machines for processing such data, not elsewhere specified or included:

8472 Other office machines (for example hectograph or stencil duplicating machines, addressing machines, automatic banknote dispensers, coin-sorting machines, coin-counting or wrapping machines, pencil-sharpening machines, perforating or stapling machines):


What is the classification of the Sharp AR-335 and 5132 multi-function digital office machines?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). 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 Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“ENs”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither 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.

As imported, the AR-335 and AR-5132 are finished digital imaging systems, which scan documents and store them as digital information in memory. The data is then printed via a connected print engine. Classification of units of ADP machines is governed by the terms of Legal Note 5 to Chapter 84, HTSUS, which provides in relevant part as follows:

Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separate units. Subject to paragraph (E) below, a unit is to be regarded as being part of an complete system if it meets all the following conditions:

It is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and It is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system.

Printers, keyboards, X-Y co-ordinate devices and disk storage units which satisfy the conditions of paragraphs (B)(b) and (B)(c) above, are in all cases to be classified as units of heading No. 8471.

The information provided for the AR-335 and AR-5132 indicate that in order for them to function as ADP printers, an optional controller board is required. Therefore, the machines do not meet the conditions laid out in Note 5(B)(b) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, because they are not connectable to an ADP system at the time of their importation. They are, however, fully functional and finished MFD copiers at the time of their importation.

Prior to January 1, 2002, these types of machines were classifiable under heading 8443, HTSUS, as printing machines. See HQ 957981, dated July 9, 1997, classifying a four color digital printer under heading 8443; and HQ 959651, also dated July 9, 1997, classifying similar merchandise under heading 8443. However, the terms of that heading have been amended so that certain digital print machines can no longer be classified under that heading.

Because these digital printers do not meet the terms of note 5(B) to chapter 84, nor do they meet the terms of heading 8443, HTSUS, they are classified under heading 8472, specifically under subheading 8472.90.80, which provides for other office machines, other printing machines, other than those of heading 8443 or 8471.

One commenter claimed that the MFD machines should nonetheless be classified under heading 8471 as a matter of fact and law. That submission claimed that because the MFD copiers may be connected to an ADP machine through the aforementioned absent printer controllers that they meet the requirements of Note 5 (B)(b), HTSUS, in that they are connected to the CPU of an ADP machine, not directly, but through one or more other units (i.e., the printer controller). However, as mentioned above, in their condition as imported, neither the Sharp model AR-335 nor 5132 come with this printer controller. They are imported as complete and fully functional MFD copiers, and are therefore, classified as such.

Furthermore, the comments submitted indicate that all printers for data processing systems require a controller board in order to connect to the central processing unit of the system and that this controller board is a conduit for the transmission and reception of information. Even if we were to accept, arguendo, that because the MFD copiers may at some future point in time be connected to an ADP machine through the optional printer controller, and accept that that would be enough to satisfy the requirement of Note 5(B)(b), the MFD copier would still fail to satisfy the requirements of Note 5(B)(c), because, by the commenters own admission, without the card, the copier is not able to accept or deliver data in a form which can be used by the system. It is the role of the printer card to facilitate this communication.

As described in the “Facts” section above, an optional printer controller adapts a digital copier so that it may be used as a printer for an ADP machine or system. These cards are not standard equipment and may be added post importation. Should importers have any further questions as to this classification of specific goods consequent to this notice, they may write to the National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, for a ruling.


For the reasons stated above, classification of the Sharp models AR-335 and 5132 multi-function digital office machines is under subheading 8472.90.80, HTSUS, which provides for other office machinesotherprinting machines other than those of heading 8443 or 8471.


NY D87961 is revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director

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