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HQ 965192

September 9, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965192 DBS


TARIFF NO.: 9001.90.40

Mr. Spiro Karras
Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services, Inc. 38345 Ten Mile Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48335

RE: Revocation of NY H82055; Plastic automobile headlight lens and parking and signal lens

Dear Mr. Karras:

This is in reference to your letters of July 31, 2001 and January 11, 2002, requesting reconsideration of NY H82055, dated June 6, 2001. In NY H82055, issued to you on behalf of Guide Corporation, the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, classified a plastic headlight lens and plastic parking and signal lens in subheading 8512.90.20, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as parts of electrical and signaling equipment of a kind used in motor vehicles. We have reconsidered the classification of the two lenses and now believe NY H82055 is incorrect.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed revocation of the above identified ruling was published on August 7, 2002, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 36, Number 33. No comments were received in response to the notice.


Both of the lenses at issue cover an incandescent light sources. The housing for the lamp has "developed optical facets" in the reflector.

Each of the facets is designed to move the light to a certain area of the beam pattern. The plastic headlight lens (GM 16525875) was identified in NY H82055 as being a 5” x 3” oval yellow plastic lens attached to a clear plastic lens measuring 20” x 4 ½” with a clear plastic border. You submitted letters from representatives of the corporation to Customs stating that the lens is actually one piece, produced in a multicolor molding machine that incorporates a single mold with two injection points. The yellow (amber) portion is concave, and not flush with the clear part. It is yellow to meet the color requirement for the parking/turn signal function. The border is actually a “leg lens,” which is part of the lens. It is used to attach the lens to the housing by fitting the “leg” into a channel on the housing, and is secured by a bonding agent.

The plastic parking and signal lens (GM 16514377), which was erroneously identified as a tail light lens in NY H82055, is 14” x 3 ½” (approx.). The lens is a single piece of smoke-colored plastic. It is manufactured by injecting hot plastic into a two piece mold, allowing it to cool and then ejecting it. Samples were submitted.

NY H82055 classified the merchandise in subheading 8512.90.20, HTSUS, which provides for parts of signaling equipment of a kind used for motor vehicles. You contend the merchandise has optical properties and that qualifies it as unmounted lenses of subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS.


Whether the merchandise has optical properties so that it may be classified in heading 9001, HTSUS, as optical lenses.


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.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Electrical lighting and signaling equipment (excluding articles of heading 8539), windshield wipers, defrosters and demisters, of a kind for cycles or motor vehicles; parts thereof:


Of signaling equipment

Optical fibers and optical fiber bundles; optical fiber cables other than those of heading 8544; sheets and plates of polarizing material; lenses (including contact lenses), prisms, mirrors and other optical elements, of any material, unmounted, other than such elements of glass, not optically worked:



The ENs include within heading 9001, HTSUS “(D) Optical elements of any material other than glass, whether or not optically worked, not permanently mounted (e.g., elements of...plastics).” Therefore, we interpret the scope of the heading to provide for plastic articles if they qualify as optical elements. In order to determine if an article is an optical element, we turn to the distinctions between optical elements of glass of heading 7014, HTSUS and similar optical elements of glass provided for in heading 9001, HTSUS, because the distinctions are instructive as to what qualifies as an optical element.

To be classifiable in heading 9001, HTSUS, an optical element of glass must be optically worked. The EN 90.01(C) states, in pertinent part, that the heading applies to elements [of glass] that have been ground and polished to create certain optical properties. This is, in short, optical working. If the glass element is not optically worked, but still imparts optical properties, the glass is classifiable in heading 7014, HTSUS. EN 70.14 describes optical elements of glass as follows:

(B) Optical elements of glass (colourless or coloured). The heading includes elements which are manufactured in such a way that they produce some required optical effect without being optically worked. These articles mainly include lenses and similar articles for automobile headlamps, parking lights, direction indication lights.

The ENs for chapters 70 and 90, read in para materia, suggest that plastic automotive lenses may be considered optical elements of chapter 90 if manufactured in such a way as to impart optical properties, or optically worked to impart such properties. See HQ 959139, dated August 16, 1996. Thus, we must determine whether the instant articles impart optical properties such that they would be classifiable as optical elements of heading 9001, HTSUS, as they could not be classifiable in heading 7014, HTSUS, because they are not glass.

Customs has discussed specific optical properties only with reference to glass lenses, and not any other material. In HQ 951709, dated October 5, 1992, the optical properties of certain fire-polished glass lenses were specific focal lengths and focal points. In HQ 959905, dated January 22, 1999, the importer stated that the optical properties of colored filter glass included filtering ultraviolet rays and allowing infrared/thermal radiation to pass through the glass. We find the examples enumerated in previous Customs rulings to be instructive in showing that the lens must be manufactured to perform certain relatively specific functions.

In common meaning, the term “lens (optics)” is defined as, "A curved piece of ground and polished or molded material, usually glass, used for the refraction of light.” McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Vol. 9 (1987), p. 663. Light refraction is an optical property for purposes of classification in heading 9001, HTSUS, because any transparent article refracts light passing through it to some extent. The lens must have a purpose beyond mere protection or incidental refraction. Thus, classification of a lens of this type is determined on a case by case basis. In HQ 959139, supra, we classified an automobile headlight lens in subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS, there were patterns molded into the lens and the importer submitted blueprints demonstrating how the light was refracted by the patterns. See also NY 876023, dated July 28, 1992 (classifying a plastic tail lamp lens with pattern in subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS) and NY 818099, dated February 2, 1996 (classifying a tail lamp lens and a park lamp lens in subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS). Similarly, many lenses now do not require patterns because most of the optics of a headlight or parking light lamp are designed in the reflectors (i.e., reflector optics). Thus, the reflector optics of the headlight are manufactured to compensate for refraction by the lens, such as loss of light.

You state that the horizontal and vertical slope of the plastic lenses at issue, as well as the thickness of the lens, are adjusted in their manufacture to further direct the light and to spread the light from the center to the outer edges. Moreover, if the lenses did not have these optical properties, the plastic would distort the light. To buttress these statements, you provided us with photometric test results on the reasonably significant differences in the candlepower, which is “the luminous intensity of a source of light expressed in canelas,” Photonics Dictionary 2002, of the light source both with and without the lens. We are satisfied that there are optical properties manufactured into the instant lenses.


The instant headlight lens and park and signal lens are classifiable in subheading 9001.90.40, HTSUS, which provides for, “Optical fibers and optical fiber bundles; optical fiber cables other than those of heading 8544; sheets and plates of polarizing material; lenses (including contact lenses), prisms, mirrors and other optical elements, of any material, unmounted, other than such elements of glass, not optically worked: other: lenses.”


NY H82055, dated June 6, 2001, is hereby 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
Commercial Rulings Division

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