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HQ 966298

May 17, 2004

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 966298 TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8537.10.90

Mr. J. G. Bradford
Guilford Center, P.O. Box 2500
Greensboro, NC 27420-5000

RE: HQ 958708 Clarified and Modified; Membrane Switch Assembly.

Dear Mr. Bradford:

This is in reference to HQ 958708, issued to you on February 6, 1996, which revoked HQ 088964. HQ 958708 classified certain membrane switch assemblies under subheading 8537.10.90, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). During the process of reviewing rulings, we discovered that while the final classification of the merchandise in question was correct, the reasoning set forth in the Law and Analysis section of HQ 958708 required clarification as to why the membrane switch assembly was classified in that subheading. This ruling clarifies that decision.

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.


The facts of the case as indicated in HQ 958708 are as follows:

Switch assemblies come in various configurations and are often used with printed circuit boards to connect circuits in telephones, computer keyboards, calculators, and children's games. The membrane switch assembly which is the subject of this inquiry is described in HQ 088964 as usually including two flexible membrane circuits, adhesive paper spacers, plastic graphics, and in some variations, molded plastic housings or backplates. The flexible membranes have a carbon ink circuitry printed on them. The switches are assembled in layers and bonded with the self-contained adhesive of the spacers and graphics. The switches vary in size from 2 inches to 8 inches in width and from 4 inches to

18 inches in length, including insertible tails (electrical connectors).


Whether the membrane switch assembly is a good included in heading 8537.


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.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8517 Electrical apparatus for line telephony or telegraphy, including such apparatus for carrier-current line systems; parts thereof:

8517.90 Parts:

Other parts, incorporating printed circuit assemblies:

Parts for telephone sets

Boards, panels (including numerical control panels), consoles, desks, cabinets and 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:

8537.10.90 Other

HQ 088964, which HQ 958708 revoked, classified the membrane switch assemblies in heading 8517, HTSUS. We hereby incorporate by reference the Law and Analysis section of HQ 958708 as to why the switch assemblies are classified under heading 8537, HTSUS, but add the following discussion by way of clarification.

The switch assemblies in question, as described in the Facts section of this ruling, contain individual switches bonded together in layers. The switch assemblies also include insertible tails (electrical connectors). Thus, the switch assemblies satisfy the terms of heading 8537, as bases equipped with two or more apparatus of headings 8535 or 8536 (i.e., switches and connectors) for electrical control or the distribution of electricity.


For the reasons stated above, under authority of GRI 1, the membrane switch assembly is classified under subheading 8537.10.90, HTSUS, as: “Boards, panels (including numerical control panels), consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity: For a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: Other”. 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 958708 is clarified by the discussion above and the classification is affirmed. 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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