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 965588 - HQ 965700 > HQ 965681

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 965681

August 30, 2002

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 965681 TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8472.90.80

Mr. Raymond Valdes
Ricoh Corporation
5 Dedrick Place
West Caldwell, N.J. 07006

RE: Ricoh 355; Ricoh 455; Multi-function Digital Office Machine; Fax, Copier, Optional Printer Interface; NY E81729 Revoked.

Dear Mr. Valdes:

This is in reference to NY E81729, issued to you on May 12, 1999, in response to your letter of April 30, 1999 to the Director, Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting a tariff classification ruling on the Ricoh 355 and Ricoh 455 multi-function digital office machines under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”).

NY E81729 classified the multi-function digital office machines under subheading 8471.60.5100, 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 Ricoh 355 and Ricoh 455.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), notice of the proposed revocation of NY E81729 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-functional digital office machines, models Ricoh Aficio 355 and Aficio 455. They are described in NY E81729 as follows:

These machines are multifunctional imaging devices, which perform printing, copying, scanning, and facsimile functions, and can be connected to an automatic data processing (ADP) machine via optional printer controllers.

All machines are multifunctional imaging apparatus that perform printing, copying, scanning and facsimile functions, and are specifically designed to be used as output units for laser printing. With optional printer controllers, each model in the Aficio series is capable of operating in a Local Area Network or client/server workgroup environment with printer server.

The Aficios produce digital black and white output at 600 x 600 dots per inch (dpi), with 65 graduations per dot. The Aficios 355 and 455 print at 35 pages per minute. Each uses laser print engines (electrographic process)

The Aficios 355 and 455 are capable of performing printing, copying, and facsimile functions, and are in one common housing.


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:

8443 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):

Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, including line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunications for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems


What is the classification of the Ricoh Aficios 355 and 455 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 Aficios are complete and finished multi-function digital office machines that have the capability to transmit and receive faxes via a built in modem and to scan documents and convert them to digital signals, which they can store in temporary memory. The Aficios can either transmit stored documents via the fax, or print them via the attached laser print engine. The print function, in this case, is a necessary component to both the fax and scanning capabilities of the multifunction machines.

Note 3 to Section XVI provides that:

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.

In this case, the Aficios are composite machines, which are composed of a fax machine and a digital copier. These two machines are adapted for the purpose of performing two alternative functions (i.e., faxing and copying). To assist in determining the principal function of a machine, we examine a number of factors, and while no one is determinative, they are indicative of principal function. After conducting independent research, we believe that it is the printing performed by the digital copier that imparts the principal function of these multi-function digital office machines.

The Aficios print via a connected laser 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 Ricoh Aficios indicates that in order for them to function as ADP printers, optional controllers are required. Therefore, the Aficios do not meet the conditions laid out in Note 5(B)(b) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, because they are not connectable to ADP machines at the time of their importation. They are, however, complete and finished MFD copiers at the time of 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 Aficio 355 or 455 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.


At GRI 1 the principal function of multi-function digital office machines that can fax and copy is that of copying. Thus, classification of the Ricoh Aficio 355 and 455 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 E81729 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

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: