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HQ 968204

MAY 15, 2006



TARIFF NO.: 9002.11.90

Joel W. Rogers, Esq.
Miller & Chevalier
655 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20005-5701

RE: DX Lenses for Digital Cameras

Dear Mr. Rogers:

In a letter to the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), New York, dated March 20, 2006, on behalf of Nikon Inc., you inquire as to the classification of certain digital camera lenses under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). You provided detailed responses to questions posed in a letter from the NCSD to you, dated January 11, 2006. You contend that heading 8529, HTSUS, parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8525 to 8528, represents the proper classification. Your request has been forwarded to this office for reply.


The DX digital camera lens models at issue, # 2147, 2148, 2149, 2156 and 2158 (“DX lens”), are designed and engineered exclusively for use with SLR-type digital cameras. These lenses will not function in photographic cameras. The DX lenses are mounted, objective lenses that receive and focus light rays emitted from an object and form the image on a charge coupling device sensor. The lenses consist of electronic circuitry, gears, ground and polished glass, micro servo-motors, while the lens elements are of glass ground and polished to produce certain optical qualities. The lens mountings are either of hardened brass plated with chromium or polycarbonate. The DX lenses are imported separately from the camera bodies in which they are used.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8525 to 8528:


Other parts of articles of headings 8525 and 8527, except parts of cellular telephones:

Of television apparatus


9002 Lenses, prisms, mirrors and other optical elements, of any material, mounted, being parts of or fittings for instruments or apparatus, other than such elements of glass not optically worked;:

Objective lenses and parts and accessories thereof:

For cameras, projectors or photographic enlargers or reducers:


9002.11.90 Other

9002.19.00 Other


Whether the DX lens models are provided for in heading 9002 as objective lenses for cameras.


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. GRI 6 states in part that the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, by appropriate substitution of terms, to Rule 1 through 5, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable.

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

You posit the fundamental incompatibility between photographic and digital camera lenses based on the basic technological and operational differences between photographic and digital cameras. Further, because the DX lenses are designed for use exclusively with digital cameras provided for in heading 8525, HTSUS, and qualify as “parts” for tariff purposes, you conclude that Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c), HTSUS, requires the lenses be classifiable in heading 8529 as parts suitable for use solely or principally with such cameras. Finally, you argue that Presidential Proclamation 7011, dated June 30, 1997, which implemented the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), mandates that digital cameras classified under heading 8525, HTSUS, be accorded duty-free treatment and that parts of articles of heading 8525, classifiable in heading 8529, HTSUS, are likewise to be accorded duty-free treatment.

We note that Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, excludes articles of chapter 90, and that heading 9002 includes, among other things, mounted lenses and other optical elements, being parts of or fittings for instruments or apparatus. We note as well that EN 85.29 excludes lenses and optical filters for television cameras (heading 90.02). You cite relevant 90.02 ENs to support your contention that this heading is limited to objective lenses for photographic cameras and does not cover the DX lenses under consideration which are suitable for use only with digital cameras.

The 90.02 ENs indicate the heading covers articles in a permanent mounting, that is, fitted in a support or frame, etc., suitable for fitting to an apparatus or instrument. The ENs continue by stating the objective lens in an optical instrument is the lens system that faces the object, giving an image of the latter. The DX lenses at issue are objective lenses which are mounted. Therefore, we find that the subject merchandise meets the terms of heading 9002, HTSUS, eo nomine, by name.

Your contention that heading 9002 does not cover lenses for digital cameras is based on the EN statement “the [9002] heading includes (1) Objective lenses, additional lenses, colour filters, viewfinders, etc., for photographic or cinematographic cameras or for projectors.” (Italics added). Aside from the fact the ENs are advisory only, and not binding, the subheading 9002.11 legal text provides for objective lenses and parts and accessories thereof for cameras, projectors or photographic enlargers or reducers. This suggests that heading 9002 includes lenses for all cameras, not just photographic cameras. In this regard, we note that subheading 9002.11.60, HTSUS, provides for mounted lenses suitable for use in closed-circuit television cameras. Closed-circuit television cameras in most cases are digital devices, which means that they operate by sending digital signals to a storage device such as a video tape recorder but most often a personal computer. www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed-circuit_television_camera. Closed-circuit television cameras are not photographic cameras for tariff purposes. See HQ 088205, dated October 2, 1991, and HQ 966133, dated March 11, 2003, which classified lenses for closed-circuit television cameras in subheading 9002.11.60, HTSUS. We conclude, therefore, that the DX lenses are provided for as objective lenses for cameras, other, in subheading 9002.11.90, HTSUS. Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, eliminates heading 8529 from consideration. Further, this obviates any claim that CBP’s classification of digital camera lenses elsewhere than in heading 8529 contravenes the mandate of Presidential Proclamation 7011.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the DX digital camera lens models 2147, 2148, 2149, 2156 and 2158 are provided for in heading 9002. They are classifiable in subheading 9002.11.9000, HTSUSA, dutiable in 2006 at the column one, general rate of duty of 2.3 percent ad valorem.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUSA and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov/tata/hts.


Gail A. Hamill

Gail A. Hamill, Chief
Tariff Classification and Marking Branch

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