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HQ 966530

September 4, 2003

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966530 DBS


TARIFF NO.: 8525.40.40

Ms. Valerie Suchor
Spectra Merchandising International, Inc. 4230 North Normandy Avenue
Chicago, IL 60634

RE: Modification of NY I86730; Digital cameras

Dear Ms. Suchor:

On October 22, 2002, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection National Commodity Specialist Division issued to you New York Ruling (NY) I86730, which classified three types of digital cameras, the Cool iCam models CIC-50A, CIC-80A and CIC-175A, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). We have reconsidered that ruling and determined that the classification of the Cool iCam CIC-175A is incorrect. Therefore, we are proposing to modify NY I86730 to reflect the proper classification of that model.

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 July 23, 2003, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 37, Number 30. No comments were received in response to the notice.


The Cool iCam model CIC-175A (“CIC-175A”) is a multi-functional digital camera. It functions as a personal computer video camera (PC camera or Web-Cam), which is used for videoconferencing when connected to an automatic data processing (ADP) machine. The camera also digitally captures and records still images and sequential images (video clips). The CIC-175A model is packaged for direct sale with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable, a non-textile pouch, non-textile neck and wrist straps, batteries and a CD-ROM software package. In NY I86730 we stated that, based on the multi-functional capability of the camera, no single function for each camera imparts a principal function, and as such the classification of each will be in accordance with General Rule of Interpretation 3(c), HTSUS, which requires that the item be classified in the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which merit equal consideration. The CIC-175A was thus classified in subheading 8525.40.80, HTSUS, which provides for other still image video cameras and other video recorders; digital cameras.


What is the classification under the HTSUS of the instant multifunctional digital camera?


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 may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. 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:

Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radiobroadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras:

Television cameras:

Still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras:

Digital still image video cameras


As stated in NY I86730, the CIC-175A performs several functions. The digital camera captures and stores still images and sequential images (video clips), which can then be processed by an ADP machine. The camera also captures live images in real time (i.e., for videoconferencing). These functions fall within the scope of heading 8525, HTSUS. Thus, classification at the heading level is not in dispute.

To determine in which subheading this digital camera is classified, we must employ GRI 6, which permits the comparison of same-level subheadings within a heading, in part by application of Rules 1 through 5, applied by the appropriate substitution of terms. Only subheadings at the same level are comparable, so we must first address the 6-digit level.

Subheading 8525.30, HTSUS, in pertinent part, provides for “television cameras.” Subheading 8525.40, HTSUS, in pertinent part, provides for “still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras.” According to GRI 1, applied through GRI 6, we must first look to the relevant section and chapter notes.

Section XVI, Note 3, provides:

“Unless the context otherwise requires, composite machines consisting of two or more machines fitted together to form a whole and other machines designed 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.” (2003) [Emphasis added.]

EN 85.25, section (C), p. 1668 (3rd Edition, 2002), describes television cameras as including, for example, “television cameras for television studios or for reporting, those used for industrial or scientific purposes or for supervising traffic.” Customs has classified PC cameras, which are those designed to be connected to ADP machines, used for videoconferencing, and for the capture of still images and moving images that do not contain internal or removable storage media as television cameras of subheading 8525.30.90, HTSUS. See e.g., HQ 964973, dated July 17, 2002. PC cameras are designed to transmit video images to an ADP machine for processing or for direct transmission over the Internet, transmitting live image as television cameras do. Therefore, whether this camera transmits real time images directly to a television set, video monitor for surveillance, or to a computer or other device, it performs the function of a category of cameras that fall within the term “television cameras” of subheading 8525.30, HTSUS. See HQ 964973; see also HQ 966172, dated June 4, 2003; HQ 965097, dated July 19, 2002; HQ 958632, dated January 25, 1996; NY A84032, dated May 31, 1996; NY B81818, dated February 13, 1997; NY A81240, dated March 18, 1996; NY F88315, dated June 29, 2000.

The PC videoconferencing function transmits live video images captured by the camera to an ADP monitor via a USB cable. Therefore, the camera’s functions are provided for in part by subheading 8525.30, HTSUS.

In the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which went into effect on July 1, 1997, by Presidential Proclamation No. 7011(62 FR 35909, June 30, 1997), the U.S. notified the other signatories that it would classify “digital still image video cameras” in subheading 8525.40.40, HTSUS. The intent of the provision was to provide duty free treatment to a class of digital cameras which have both prior to and since the ITA been provided for in subheading 8525.40, HTSUS. See, e.g., NY 817941, dated January 14, 1996; HQ 960384, dated April 1, 1999 (classifying Casio QV-10 digital cameras entered in 1995); HQ 960664, dated April 20, 1999 (classifying Olympus Digital Still Camera model # D-200L entered in 1995); NY F86533, dated May 17, 2000; and NY G86928, dated February 9, 2001.

The term “digital cameras” was added to the text of heading 8525, HTSUS, and subheading 8525.40, HTSUS, as a result of the 2002 amendment in the HTSUS, effective January 10, 2002. That amendment was intended to clarify that the provisions included cameras that are commonly and commercially known as “digital cameras.” The addition of this term was not intended to change the scope of the heading or subheading level. Generally, digital cameras perform still image capture and limited sequential image capture, but are not those cameras commonly and commercially known as camcorders.

The legal text to subheading 8525.40, HTSUS, both before and after the 2002 amendment, describes the cameras of the subheading as "recorders." EN 85.25 (3rd Edition, 2002) indicates that the cameras of this category "record images" or "record sequential images." That is, these cameras have the ability to record and store still images or video on permanent or removable media within the camera (e.g., random access memory (RAM), flash memory cards, memory sticks or magnetic tape, as with certain camcorders), such that the images can be retrieved and viewed at a time subsequent to the time they are captured. See HQ 966307, dated June 6, 2003.

In addition to videoconferencing capabilities, the instant camera captures still images and limited sequential images and stores them internally. Though it operates independently from an ADP machine, it must be connected to an ADP machine for processing the recorded digital images. These functions are provided for in subheading 8525.40, HTSUS.

As the instant digital camera performs functions that are covered by subheading 8525.30, HTSUS and 8525.40, HTSUS, it is a multifunctional camera designed for the purpose of performing two or more complementary or alternative functions. As such, it is a composite machine, classified according the camera’s principal function, pursuant to Section XVI, Note 3, HTSUS. However, the instant camera contains no feature that predominates over any other feature to suggest that one capability constitutes the principal function, we are unable to determine the digital camera’s principal function.

General EN (VI) to Section XVI provides that, “[w]here it is not possible to determine the principal function, and where as provided in Note 3 to the Section, the context does not otherwise require, it is necessary to apply General Interpretative Rule 3(c).” GRI 3(c) provides that “When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.”

Subheadings 8525.30, HTSUS, and 8525.40, HTSUS, merit equal consideration for the reasons stated above. Thus, the instant digital camera is classified in subheading 8525.40, HTSUS.

Because the 2002 legal text amendment did not change the scope of subheading 8525.40, we find that the scope of subheading 8525.40.40, HTSUS, which provides for “digital still image video cameras,” also did not change. Subheading 8525.40.40, HTSUS, still provides for those articles commonly and commercially referred to as digital cameras. Therefore, subheading 8525.40.80, HTSUS, is not considered. Accordingly, this digital camera is classified in subheading 8525.40.40, HTSUS.

NY I84955 applied GRI 3(c), through Section XVI, Note 3 and GRI 6, to the eight-digit subheading level rather than the six-digit level, as discussed above. Therefore, NY I84955 is incorrect.

It is noted that NY I86730 was correct in determining that the camera imported in a blister pack with CD-ROM software, a user guide, a warranty card and a plastic clip used to attach the camera to a portable PC notebook comprises a set put up for retail sale, and that the essential character of the set is imparted by the camera. Further, the application of Note 6 to Chapter 85, HTSUS, regarding classification of software, was also correct. Therefore, the set, including the CD-ROM, is classified as if consisting only of that article which imparts the essential character of the set: the digital camera.


At GRI 3(b), the Cool iCam model CIC-175A digital camera set is classified in subheading 8525.40.40, HTSUS, which provides for, in pertinent part, “Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony . . . television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras: Still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras: Digital still image video cameras.”


NY I86730, dated October 22, 2002, is 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 Commercial Rulings Division

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