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HQ 966188

May 17, 2004

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966188 TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8537.10.90

Mr. Robert J. Resetar
Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
980 Hammond Drive, Suite 1000
Atlanta, GA 30328

RE: Wiper Switch and Motor Vehicle Steering Column Switch; HQ 964533 Analysis Modified, Classification Affirmed.

Dear Mr. Resetar:

This is in reference to HQ 964533, issued to you on October 2, 2000, in which a wiper switch and steering column switch for motor vehicles were held to be classifiable under subheading 8537.10.90, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”), which provides for other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8536 or 8537, for electric control or the distribution of electricity for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 volts. That ruling revoked a previous ruling issued to you, HQ 963621, dated August 31, 2000, which classified those parts in subheading 8536.50.90, HTSUS. HQ 964533 indicated that the change in Customs position stemmed from its interpretation of Universal Electronics, Inc. v United States, 112 F.3d 488 (1997), aff’g. 20 CIT 337 (1996), which indicated that multiple switches for electronic control are classified under heading 8537.

We have had an opportunity to re-examine the issue and find that Customs interpretation of Universal was incorrect. However, the plain language of the heading indicates that the automotive switches were correctly classified under heading 8537, HTSUS. Thus, for the reasons set forth below, HQ 964533 is modified to the extent that is does not reflect our understanding of Universal, but the classification of the switches is affirmed.

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 modification of the above identified ruling was published on March 10, 2004, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 38, Number 11. No comments were received in response to the notice. FACTS:

The article presently at issue is a 3-in-1 switch mounted on the steering column behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle. It incorporates three individual levers mounted together, each consisting of a windshield wiper speed switch, a cruise control on/off/setting switch, and a turn signal and high/low headlight switch.


Whether the wiper switch and the 3-in-1 steering column switch are automotive parts or accessories or electrical apparatus of Chapter 85.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8536 Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits or for making connections to or in electrical circuitsfor a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V:

8536.50 Other switches:

8536.50.90 Other

8537 other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity:

8537.10 For a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V:


8708 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705:

Other parts and accessories of bodies (including cabs):

8708.99 Other:



8708.99.80 Other

Initially, Section XVI, Note 1(l), HTSUS, excludes articles of Section XVII. Heading 8708, parts and accessories of motor vehicles, is in Section XVII. But, Section XVII, Note 2(f), HTSUS, excludes from the expressions “parts” and “parts and accessories” electrical machinery and equipment of Chapter 85. The question, therefore, is whether these switches are described by a provision in Chapter 85.

In your original two ruling requests, both dated May 27, 1999, from which NY E81997 and NY E81998 resulted, you cited heading 8537, HTSUS, for possible consideration. The rulings that were issued, however, contained no discussion of that provision. Heading 8537, HTSUS, provides for other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536.

The wiper switch consists of a single lever that performs separate switching functions and the 3-in-1 steering column switch consists of three individual switches joined in a common housing, each of which controls a separate function within the vehicle. Because these devices contain multiple switches, each of which is an apparatus found in heading 8536, HTSUS, they meet the plain language of heading 8537.

In Universal, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the Court of International Trade classifying hand-held remote control units under subheading 8537.10.00, HTSUS. However, the merchandise in Universal consisted of both switches and terminals. Because there was a combination of different types of devices that are classified under heading 8536, heading 8537, HTSUS was applicable. Here, we have multiples of a single type of device, i.e. switches. The court in Universal did not explicitly address a position on multiple replications of a single type of device. It ruled on devices containing both switches and terminals. Questions which merely lurk in the record, neither brought to the attention of the court nor ruled upon, are not to be considered as having been so decided as to constitute precedents. Webster v. Fall, 266 U.S. 507, 511 (1925). Therefore, the finding in Universal is not a precedent with respect to the merchandise presently before us.

Customs believes that heading 8536 covers individual apparatus of the type named in the heading. Multiples of a single type of apparatus meet the plain language of heading 8537, HTSUS, since they are “two or more” of the apparatus. Because both the wiper switch and the 3-in-1 steering column switch are provided for in heading 8537, Section XVII, Note 2(f), HTSUS, eliminates heading 8708 from consideration.

HQ 964533 cited to several other Customs rulings, i.e. HQ 958711 and HQ 958708, both dated February 6, 1996 and HQ 958451, dated February 8, 1996, that classified apparatus with multiple devices in heading 8537, HTSUS. Although HQ 964533 indicated that these were classified for the same reasons as the CAFC did in Universal, HQ 958708 actually contained both switches and connectors, which dictated classification under heading 8537, HTSUS. The merchandise in HQ 958711 and HQ 958451 was classified under heading 8537, HTSUS, in accordance with a plain text reading of the heading, i.e. the goods contained two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, rather than by application of Universal.

Finally, HQ 964533 rejected the reasoning found in HQ 963621, dated August 31, 2000, based on Customs view of Universal. This view was first expressed in HQ 963218, dated May 24, 2000. That ruling classified junction boxes and power distribution boxes which contained relays and fuses in heading 8537, HTSUS. Customs indicated in HQ 963218 that heading 8536, HTSUS, provides for “multiples of one apparatus.” While Customs still believes this view is invalid, it is because of Customs understanding of the plain language of heading 8537, HTSUS, and not because of the holding in Universal. For that reason, the observation that heading 8536, HTSUS, provides for multiples of apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, HTSUS, is again rejected, due to a plain text reading of heading 8537, HTSUS.


For the reasons stated above, under the authority of GRI 1, Customs affirms that the 3-in-1 steering column switch is provided for in heading 8537, specifically, subheading 8537.10.90, HTSUS. The rate of duty according to the 2004 HTSUS is 2.7%. Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov.


HQ 964533 is modified to the extent that it reflects Customs understanding of Universal. The views in HQ 963218 and HQ 963621 on the distinction between headings 8536 and 8537, HTSUS, is rejected and hereby modified. 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, Director

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