Guidance

Classifying audio and video equipment for import and export

How to classify AV electronic equipment when using the Tariff: recording desks, VCRs, TVs, radios, digital cameras, parts and accessories.

Introduction

Chapter 85 of the Tariff covers a range of electrical and electronic machinery and equipment, including audio and video equipment.

This guide will help you to classify audio and video equipment for the purposes of the UK Trade Tariff - including sound and video recorders and players, radios, televisions, video monitors and digital cameras. The guide also covers parts and accessories for these types of equipment, as well as blank and recorded media like CDs and DVDs.

Items of audio and video equipment covered in chapter 85 may be classified according to:

  • their function
  • their design, materials, build and performance
  • whether they’ve got more than one function
  • whether they’re part of a complete system or an individual separate unit

Find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing the online UK Trade Tariff tool.

Quick reference table to heading codes

Item Heading code
Amplifiers (sound) - single channel, or multi-channel including surround sound amplifiers, separate units 8518 40 80 99
Answerphones for telephones 8519 50 00 00
CD players - no built-in radio for standard size 120mm discs 8519 81 35 00
CD-R discs - blank 8523 41 10 00
CD-RW discs - blank 8523 41 90 00
CDs - pre-recorded with music or other sound 8523 49 20 00
Digital cameras - still image is principle function 8525 80 30 00
Digital cameras - with video capture as a principe function 8525 80 91 90 or 8525 80 99 00
DVD players - basic portable machines with a built-in screen (with or without a radio) 8528 59 00 90
DVD players - basic machines for use in vehicles (no radio, no screen) 8521 90 00 90
DVD players - mains powered (no radio, no screen) 8521 90 00 90
DVD-R discs - blank 8523 41 30 00
DVD-RW discs - blank 8523 41 90 00
DVDs - pre-recorded with films or pictures 8523 49 10 00
Home cinema systems - including a DVD player, amplifier, speakers and radio but no screen 8521 90 00 90
MP3 players - basic no radio 8519 81 95 90
MP3 players - with a built-in radio 8527 13 99 00
Radios - portable; basic or with a clock 8527 19 00 00
Radios - Radio Data System, for use in vehicles, with a CD or Minidisc player and possibly also a cassette player 8527 21 20 00
Radios - internet streaming separate tuner units, mains powered 85198900
Radios - separate tuner units, mains powered 8527 99 00 90
Records - vinyl, pre-recorded 85238090
Satellite dishes 8529 10 31 00
Speakers - single loudspeaker in cabinet, separate units 8518 21 00 00
Speakers - multiple loudspeakers in cabinet, separate units 8518 22 00 90
Televisions - colour units - with liquid crystal display (LCD) screen 8528 72 40 00
Televisions - colour units - with plasma display screen 8528 72 60 00
Video cameras and camcorders - no external input jacks or ports 8525 80 91 90
Video games on a disc for laser reading system (not cartridge) 8523 4920
Video monitors - flat panel displays able to display signals from automatic data-processing machines with an acceptable level of functionality - LCD 8528 52 91 00
Video monitors - flat panel displays able to display signals from automatic data-processing machines with an acceptable level of, functionality - other than LCD 8528 52 99 00
Video monitors – unable to display signals directly from automatic data processing machine with an acceptable level of functionality 8528 59 00 90
Webcams 8525 80 19 90

For detailed information on this sector see telecoms, radiocomms and broadcasting equipment.

General interpretative rules for classification in the UK Trade Tariff

The General Interpretative Rules (GIRs) of the Tariff provide the legal basis for classifying goods. There are six GIRs, which are set out in Section I of the second volume of the Tariff.

GIR 1 directs that:

“For legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.”

A heading code is a four digit code, while a chapter code is a two digit code, (the first two of the heading code). The terms of the heading descriptions - and the notes to each section and chapter - are paramount when it comes to classifying goods correctly.

GIR 6 determines how goods are classified at the level of a subheading code - a code with six or more digits. So if an item is classified using a code of six or more digits both GIR 6 and GIR 1 will always apply.

GIR 2, GIR 3 and GIR 4 sometimes also apply depending on the nature of the goods to be classified. It’s important to note that you must consider each GIR in sequence. For example, you can’t use GIR 3c to classify goods until you have tried using GIR 2a, GIR 2b, GIR 3a and GIR 3b.

GIR 5 applies to certain types of container and to packing materials presented with the items they’re designed to package. 

Guidance notes on interpreting each GIR are included in the Harmonised System Explanatory Notes (HSENs) to the Tariff. You can read about purchasing HSENs on the World Customs Organization website.

Classifying sound reproducing equipment with no recording capability

Some sound-reproducing (playing) equipment does not incorporate a recording device. These include:

  • various types of CD and minidisc player
  • juke boxes
  • turntables (record decks)

Sound-reproducing equipment that can’t record is classified under heading code 8519 as long as it doesn’t incorporate a radio receiver. If it does incorporate a radio then it’s classified under heading code 8527.

CD and minidisc players

Most CD and minidisc players with no recorder or radio receiver are classified under subheading code 8519 81 35 00. However, minidisc players for use in vehicles are classified under subheading code 8519 81 31 00.

Jukeboxes

Coin and token-operated record players like jukeboxes are classified under subheading code 8519 20 91 00 if they use a laser-reading system like a CD player.

If they only play vinyl records they’re classified under subheading code 8519 20 10 00.

Turntables

Record turntables, or record decks, are classified under subheading code 8519 30 00 00.

Cassette players

Pocket-size cassette players with no recorder or radio receiver are classified under subheading code 8519 81 15 00. To be classified as ‘pocket size’, a cassette player must:

  • have a built-in amplifier but no built-in loudspeaker
  • be capable of operating without any external power source, meaning that it can run on internal batteries or another built-in power source, perhaps a clockwork generator, for example
  • be no larger than 170 millimetres long, 100 millimetres wide and 45 millimetres deep

Other cassette players - including those designed for use in vehicles, portable machines and for use in the home - are classified under subheading code 8519812500 as long as they can’t receive radio and have no recording capability.

Classifying sound recording equipment

Sound recording equipment may or may not incorporate a sound reproducing (playing) device. Examples of sound recording equipment include:

  • MP3 players
  • cassette recorders
  • telephone answering machines
  • dictation machines

MP3/MP4 players

MP3 players without a built-in radio and with no video recording or playing capability are classified under subheading code 8519 81 95 90. MP3 players with a built-in still image camera are classified under this subheading code too, as long as they don’t have radio or video capability.

If an MP3 player has a built-in radio but no video capability then it’s classified under subheading code 8527 13 99 00.

MP3 players with video recording or playing capability (for example, a built-in MP4 player):

  • with a screen of 3.5 inches or less and a memory capacity of 16GB or less without a radio are classified under heading 8519 - with a radio, under heading 8527
  • with a screen exceeding 3.5 inches or a memory capacity exceeding 16GB are classified under subheading 8521 9000 (Commission Regulation (EC) 1056/06 refers)

Cassette tape recorders

Classified under 8519 81 70 00.

Telephone answering machines

Telephone answering machines are classified under subheading code 8519 50 00 00.

Mains-powered dictation machines

Mains-only powered dictation machines are classified under subheading code 8519 81 51 00.

Other magnetic tape recorders incorporating sound reproducing apparatus

Classified under 8519 81 70.

Other sound recording apparatus

Other sound recorders using magnetic, optical or semiconductor media are classified under subheading code 8519 81 95 90 as long as they don’t have a built-in radio.

Classifying video recording and playing equipment

Video equipment may have recording or reproducing (playing) capability - or both. In most cases it is classified under heading code 8521 whether it has a built-in radio receiver or not.

Video recorders and players that don’t use magnetic tape

Examples of video recorders and players that don’t use magnetic tape to record onto and play back from include:

  • DVD players
  • combined DVD and CD players, including those that can record
  • hard disc recorders
  • laserdisc players
  • MP4 players
  • personal video recorders
  • media players that use semiconductor media

Combined DVD and video cassette recorders (DVD-VCR combinations) are also classified as video equipment that does not use magnetic tape.

Digital video recorders imported without a hard disc drive are classified under subheading code 8521 90 00 90.

DVD players – portable, combined with screen are classified under 8528 59 00 90.

Home cinema systems

Home cinema systems made up of a DVD player, a surround-sound amplifier, radio receiver and speakers but no screen are classified under subheading code 8521 90 00 90. If they’ve got a radio, amplifier and speakers but no DVD player then they’re classified under subheading code 8527 99 00 90.

Magnetic tape video recorders and players

These types of video machine include Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs). If the width of the magnetic tape used is no more than 1.3 centimetres and the tape speed is no more than 50 millimetres per second then they’re classified under subheading code 8521 10 20 00. This subheading code includes standard VHS and 8mm machines.

Other types of video equipment that use magnetic tape are classified under subheading code 8521 10 95 90.

Video editing equipment

Video editing equipment and frame grabbers are classified under subheading code 8543 70 90 99.

Classifying radio receiving equipment

Radio receivers may be standalone items or combined with sound or video equipment - or with a clock. They’re grouped into three categories for classification purposes:

  • radio receivers that can operate without an external power source - they’re powered independently, by their own batteries, for example
  • radio receivers that need an external power source and are designed for use in vehicles - a vehicle’s battery is an external power source
  • other radio receivers that need an external power source

Independently powered radio receivers

Portable standalone radios that can operate without an external power source are classified under subheading code 8527 19 00 00. Independently powered clock radios are also classified under this subheading.

Portable radio receivers combined with a CD or minidisc player (or recorder) are classified under subheading code 8527 13 10 00. They could include a tape player or recorder.

Portable radios that use built-in digital memory, or an external memory card, to record are classified under subheading code 8527 13 99 00. This classification includes combined radio and MP3 players or recorders.

Portable radios combined just with a cassette tape player or recorder are classified under subheading code 8527 13 99 00 if they’re not ‘pocket size’. To be classified as pocket size, a radio cassette player must:

  • have a built-in amplifier but no built-in loudspeaker
  • be capable of operating without any external power source
  • be no larger than 170 millimetres long, 100 millimetres wide and 45 millimetres deep

Pocket-size radio cassette players are classified under subheading code 8527 12 90 00.

Radio receivers for use in vehicles

Vehicle radios with no combined sound player or recorder are classified under subheading code 8527 29 00 90.

Vehicle radios with some kind of sound playing or recording device are classified as follows:

  • radios with a CD or minidisc player (or recorder) are classified under subheading code 8527 21 20 00 if they’re RDS radios and under subheading code 8527 21 70 00 if not

Other radios that need an external power source

Standalone radio receivers with no built-in amplifier that cannot operate without external power are classified under subheading code 8527 99 00 90. The following items are also classified under this subheading code as long as they cannot operate without external power:

  • standalone radios with an amplifier
  • home cinema systems with a surround-sound amplifier and a radio, but no DVD player

Other mains and externally powered radios are classified as follows:

  • alarm clock radios are classified under subheading code 8527 92 10 00
  • radios combined with a CD, minidisc, MP3 player or other digital recorder - and with built-in speakers - are classified under subheading code 8527 91 19 00
  • radios combined with a CD or minidisc player or recorder that have separate speakers - or none at all - are classified under subheading code 8527 91 35 00 - they could include a tape or MP3 player
  • radios combined with a tape, MP3 or other digital recording system (but no CD or minidisc player) that have separate speakers or none at all are classified under subheading code 8527 91 99 90
  • home cinema systems with a surround-sound amplifier, radio and DVD player are classified under subheading code 8521 90 00 90

Classifying television receiving equipment

Most television receiving equipment is classified under heading code 8528. It makes no difference if it’s also a radio receiver.

Multi-purpose televisions

Colour televisions with a built-in video machine - which could use DVDs, video cassettes etc. - are classified under subheading code 8528 72 20 00.

Colour televisions with a built-in sound player or recorder - which could use MP3 or CDs, for example - are classified under heading code 8528 according to their specification (screen type, screen size and so on).

Colour televisions - LCD, plasma and other non-CRT screens

Televisions with an LCD screen are classified under 8528 72 40 00.

Televisions with a PDP (Plasma Display Technology) screen are classified under 8528 72 60 00.

Projection television receivers

Projection television receivers are classified under subheading code 8528 72 10 00.

Black and white televisions

These and other monochrome televisions are classified under subheading code 8528 73 00 00.

Digital set top boxes with video tuner

These include receivers with a video tuner for cable, satellite and terrestrial digital television. If the apparatus incorporates a modem, enables the user to access the internet and runs internet applications in an ‘interactive information exchange’ mode (such as an email client or a messaging application using UDP or TCP/IP sockets), it is classified under subheading code 8528 71 15 00. Otherwise the apparatus should be classified under subheading code 8528 71 19 00.

Television tuner cards for a computer

Television Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) tuner card assemblies, without a housing, for computers are classified under subheading code 8528 71 11 00. Products contained in a housing are considered to have lost their character as an electronic assembly and are classified under 8528 7119 00.

Classifying video monitors and projectors

Most video monitors are classified under heading code 8528. They’re classified according to features like screen type, size and whether they’re colour or black and white.

Video monitors - LCD, plasma and other non-CRT screens

Monitors of a kind solely or principally used with a computer system of heading 8471 are classified under subheading 8528 52 10, see guide classifying Computers and Software for Import and Export for further guidance.

Flat panel displays able to display signals from automatic data-processing machines with an acceptable level of functionality - with a screen of the LCD technology are classified under 8528 52 91 00.

Flat panel displays able to display signals from automatic data-processing machines with an acceptable level of functionality – other than LCD are classified under 8528 52 99 00.

Other monitors and those combined with other apparatus, such as portable DVD players, digital photo frames are classified under 8528 59 00 90.

For further information see Customs Information Paper (13) 64 (PDF, 21K).

Incomplete plasma and LCD monitor panels

Bare plasma screen monitor panels cannot receive a signal from any source. They’re made up of glass layers with plasma cells between them. They’ve got display and address electrodes and they may or may not include:

  • a driver
  • control circuitry
  • a power supply

They’re classified under subheading code 8529 90 92 43.

Bare LCD screen panels that can’t receive a signal from any source are made up of one or more thin film transistor glass or plastic cells. They’ve got one or more printed circuit boards with control electronics for pixel addressing only and they may or may not include:

  • a backlit unit
  • inverters

If they’ve got touch screen facilities then they’re classified under subheading code 8548 90 90 65 - if not they’re classified under subheading code 8529 90 92 15.

Video projectors

LCD and digital light processing dual purpose video projectors that can also display computer data or other images are classified under subheading code 8528 62 00 00.

Other types of video projector are classified under subheading code 8528 69 80 90 if they’re colour, and under subheading code 8528 69 20 00 if they’re black and white or other monochrome.

Classifying speakers, amplifiers and microphones

Speakers, amplifiers and microphones are classified as separate units under their own heading codes if they don’t make up part of a complete system.

Note that if items like speakers and amplifiers make up part of a complete system along with other units then they don’t need to be classified separately. For example, a home cinema system that included a DVD player, radio receiver and amplifier as well as separate speakers would be classified as a single item under subheading code 8521 90 00 90.

Loudspeakers

Speakers classified under heading code 8518 include both passive speakers and active speakers. Active speakers, like many subwoofers, contain a built-in audio amplifier.

The subheading code under which speakers are classified depends on the number of ‘drive units’ - the actual loudspeaker cones or ribbons - in each cabinet or enclosure.

Speakers with a single drive unit in each cabinet are classified under subheading code 8518 21 00 90.

Speakers with more than one drive unit in each cabinet - for example one woofer and one tweeter - are classified under subheading code 8518 22 00 90.

Speakers that aren’t mounted in a cabinet or enclosure are classified under subheading code 8518 29 95 99.

Headphones

Audio headphone sets and earphones designed for use with audio and video equipment are classified under subheading code 8518 30 95 90.

Amplifiers

Audio frequency electric amplifiers are classified under subheading code 8518 40 80 99.

Graphic equalisers and mixing units

These are classified as other electrical apparatus under subheading code 8543 70 90 99.

Microphones

Microphones and microphone stands are classified under subheading code 8518 10 95 90.

Electric sound amplifier sets

These combine a microphone, amplifier and loudspeaker. Examples include:

  • loudhailers (or megaphones)
  • sound-only karaoke machines with no video (without sound reproducing or recording device)

They are classified under subheading code 8518 50 00 90.

Electric guitar amplifiers are classified under subheading 8518 40 80 99.

Classifying television cameras, video cameras and still digital cameras

Unlike photographic cameras, which are covered in chapter 90, television, video and digital cameras don’t use light-sensitive film or plates. Instead, they form images through a lens and convert them into an electrical signal. This is then transmitted or saved electronically.

Cameras covered in chapter 85 are classified under heading code 8525 and fall into one of three broad categories:

  • television cameras - including webcams - these don’t record or save the image they form, but convert it into an electrical signal that’s transmitted to other apparatus by either line or radio
  • video cameras and camcorders - these record or save a moving image
  • digital still cameras - these record or save a still image

Television cameras

Other television cameras - that can store video are classified under subheading code 8525 80 19 90. Examples of the types of camera that are classified under this subheading code are webcams.

Video cameras and camcorders

Video cameras that can only record the sound and images taken by the camera itself are classified under subheading code 8525 80 91 90. These types of video camera don’t have any input jacks or ports, so they can’t record sound or images from other external sources.

Video cameras and camcorders that do have some sort of external input facility - for example a DV-in connector - are classified under subheading code 8525 80 99 00.

Still image digital cameras

Still image digital cameras with video capture capabilities where the still image capture is the principle function are classified under subheading code 8525 80 30 00.

Classifying parts and accessories for audio and video equipment

Note 2 to Section XVI of the Tariff sets out the legal basis for classifying parts for audio and video equipment.

Many parts and accessories for audio, video, radio, television and non-film camera equipment are classified under headings 8522 or 8529 if they’re not part of a complete system.

A part that’s integral to a piece of equipment, but is specifically covered by a heading code in chapter 85 or chapter 84, is classified under that heading code. For example, because coaxial cable is specifically covered by heading code 8544 it’s classified under this heading - and not as a part for audio or video equipment under heading code 8522. However, there are certain heading codes that this rule doesn’t apply to because they’re designated parts headings. They’re listed in Note 2a to Section XVI and are:

  • 8409
  • 8431
  • 8448
  • 8466
  • 8473
  • 8485
  • 8503
  • 8522
  • 8529
  • 8538
  • 8548

Some parts are suitable for use solely or principally with a particular item of equipment - or with a number of items classified under the same heading code - but aren’t specifically covered by a heading code in chapter 85 or chapter 84. These are classified either under one of the heading codes listed above or under the same heading code as the item or items that they’re suitable for.

Parts that are equally suitable for use solely or principally with goods classified under heading codes 8517 and 8525 to 8528 are always classified under heading code 8517. This rule is set out in Note 2b to Section XVI.

Any other parts that are suitable for use with a number of machines classified under different heading codes are classified as appropriate under one of the following heading codes:

  • 8409
  • 8431
  • 8448
  • 8466
  • 8473
  • 8503
  • 8522
  • 8529
  • 8538

If none of the above heading codes are suitable they’re classified under heading code 8487 or 8548. This rule is set out in Note 2c to Section XVI.

The following classification guidance is subject to the above rules, which are set out in Note 2 to Section XVI of the Tariff.

Parts and accessories for sound and video recording and playing equipment

Pick-up cartridges are classified under subheading code 8522 10 00 00.

Styli - for example, for record players - are classified under subheading code 8522 90 30 00 whether they’re mounted or not.

Tripods, monopods and similar are classified within heading 9620.

Electronic assemblies for telephone answering machines are classified under subheading code 8522 90 41 00.

Electronic assemblies for other items of audio and video equipment of headings 8519 or 8521 are classified under subheading code 8522 90 49.

Other parts and accessories for audio and video equipment not affected by the classification rules set out above are classified under subheading code 8522 90 80.

Parts and accessories for radios, televisions, video monitors and non-film cameras

Telescopic and whip-type aerials for portable equipment or motor vehicles are classified under subheading code 8529 10 11 00.

Outside aerials or dishes for satellite radio or television are classified under subheading code 8529 10 31 00.

Other outdoor aerials are classified under subheading code 8529 10 39 00.

Indoor radio and television aerials, including built-in types, are classified under subheading code 8529 10 65 90.

Aerial filters and separators are classified under subheading code 8529 10 80.

Cabinets and cases made of wood are classified under subheading code 8529 90 41 00. If they’re made of other materials then they’re classified under subheading code 8529 90 49 00.

Electronic assemblies are classified under subheading code 8529 90 65.

Radio tuner modules designed for incorporating into radio-broadcast receivers of a kind used in motor vehicles are classified under heading code 8527 29 00.

Tripods, monopods and similar are classified within heading 9620.

Other parts for television cameras classified under subheading code 8525 80 - or for equipment classified under heading code 8527 or 8528 - are classified under subheading code 8529 90 92.

Other parts for radios, televisions, video monitors and non-film cameras are classified under subheading code 8529 90 97.

Parts for speakers, microphones and amplifiers

These are classified under subheading code 8518 90 00 99.

Remote control handsets

Remote control handsets for audio and video equipment are classified under subheading code 8543 70 90 99 if they’re the infra-red type, and under subheading code 8526 92 00 90 if they’re the radio frequency type.

Classifying blank and recorded media

Recordable media include:

  • discs like CDs and DVDs
  • magnetic tapes
  • flash memory cards

Many can be either blank or pre-recorded. Most blank and recorded media are classified under heading code 8523.

Blank discs

Classification of blank unrecorded discs can be complicated. Although all of these types of disc are read by laser systems, the recording (writing) systems differ. Discs fall into the following classes:

  • CD-R discs - these are unrecorded blank discs of ‘Orange Book II’ type that use laser technology for both reading and writing, CD-R discs are classified under subheading code 8523 41 10 00
  • CD-RW discs - these use Phase-change technology for recording and erasing and are classified under subheading code 8523 41 90 00
  • DVD-R discs - the technology of these discs is assumed to be similar to the CD-R disc in that they use laser technology for both reading and writing, DVD-R discs are classified under subheading code 8523 41 30 00
  • DVD+RW discs - these use Phase-change technology for recording and erasing and are classified under subheading code 8523 41 90 00

Blank magnetic tapes

Magnetic tapes include audio cassette tapes, reels, video cassette tapes, mini DV and so on. They’re classified under subheading code 8523 29 15 00.

Blank flash memory cards

These contain two or more flash memory integrated electronic circuits mounted on a base. There are different types of flash memory card, including Compact Flash, Smart Media and Secure Digital. They’re classified under subheading code 8523 51 10 00.

Micro drives

These are miniature hard disc drives and classified under subheading code 8471 70 50.

Recorded gramophone records

These are classified under subheading code 8523 80 90 00.

Other recorded discs

Other recorded discs are classified according to the type of material recorded onto them. Although various different types of disc are manufactured and recorded differently, they’re all designed to be played by some kind of laser system. They’re classified as follows:

  • sound recordings on CD, including music, speech, wildlife noises for example, are classified under subheading code 8523 49 20 00
  • sound recordings on minidisc are classified under subheading code 8523 49 20 00
  • computer software on CD - including programs like word processors, data like business directories and device drivers like printer drivers - is classified under subheading code 8523 49 20 00
  • other recordings, including games, films, videos, images like clip art and photo collections, karaoke discs and games for video games consoles, are classified under subheading code 8523 49 10 00 if they’re recorded on DVD and under subheading code 8523 49 20 00 if they’re recorded on other types of laser-read disc

Recorded magnetic tapes

Magnetic tapes recorded with sound like music, or images like film, include compact cassettes and video cassettes. They’re classified under subheading code 8523 29 19 00.

Other types of recorded magnetic tape, computer programs or data, for example, are classified under subheading code 8523 29 19 00.

Exceptions and difficult classifications

The following items aren’t covered in chapter 85, even though they may share some characteristics with - or be in some way associated with - certain items of audio or video equipment:

  • video games consoles and other toys and games toys and games are covered in chapter 95, with video games consoles classified under heading code 9504
  • video games cartridges - these are covered in chapter 95 under heading code 9504
  • computer monitor optical screen filters - these are covered in chapter 90
  • slide projectors and microfiche readers - these are covered in chapter 90
  • non-electric projection screens - these are classified in 90106000
  • non-digital (photographic film) cameras - these are covered in chapter 90
  • optical lenses for cameras and projectors, and filters for lenses - these are covered in chapter 90
  • electrocardiographs - these and other medical apparatus are covered in chapter 90
  • personal computer systems complete with monitors or built-in screens, computers are covered in chapter 84
  • micro drives, which are covered in chapter 84 under subheading code 8471 70 50 90
  • equipment to be used in civil aircraft - there are often special codes for this type of equipment
  • a multi function tablet computer that has the complimentary functions of data processing, communication over a wireless network, sound and video recording and reproducing and the capturing and displaying still and video images, capable of downloading, storing, modifying and executing programs 8471 3000 – see also Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1800
  • basic parts for general use - these could, for example, be made of base metal (like steel screws and bolts, which are covered in chapter 73) or made of plastics, which are covered in chapter 39

More information about the special heading codes for equipment used in civil aircraft is available in Part 11 of Volume 1 of the Tariff at paragraph 11 2 8.

Section XVI of the Tariff, which includes chapter 85, has detailed notes covering the goods classified in this chapter - including audio and video equipment. Chapter 85 also includes its own classification notes. When classifying audio or video equipment and parts, you should refer to the notes and decide which, if any, apply.

Composite goods

Some goods consist of several devices fitted together to form a whole. To correctly classify composite goods like this, try to establish which device performs the main function. Then you can classify the whole item under the heading code for the device that performs this main function.

If it’s not possible to establish which device in a composite item performs the main function, then the goods are classified according to GIR 3c. According to this rule, of all the possible heading or subheading codes that could equally apply, the code that comes last in numerical order is used to classify the goods.

Note 3 to Section XVI sets out the legal basis for classifying composite goods.

Multifunctional goods

Multifunctional goods are items that are designed to perform two or more complementary or alternative functions. For example, a clock radio tells the time and receives radio signals.

To classify a multifunctional item correctly, try to establish its main function. If this is possible, classify the item under the heading or subheading code appropriate to that function as if that were the item’s only function.

If it’s not possible to establish which the main function is, then the goods are classified according to GIR 3c as outlined above.

Note 3 to Section XVI sets out the legal basis for classifying multifunctional goods.

Individual components that work together to perform a single function some items consist of a series of individual components that are intended to contribute together to a clearly defined function covered by one of the heading codes in chapter 85. The components can be separate or connected by any means like cables or wireless devices.

If an item matches this description, then the whole item is classified under the heading code that’s appropriate to the function it performs.

Note 4 to Section XVI sets out the legal basis for classifying single function goods made up of several components.

Some useful definitions

Definitions of some of the terms used in this guide - and in chapter 85 of the Tariff - are listed below:

  • external power source - a power source like mains electricity that doesn’t come from within an item’s own casing - a vehicle’s battery is an external power source
  • image size ratio - or ‘aspect ratio’ - the ratio of a television or monitor screen’s image width to its image height
  • independently powered - see ‘portable’ below
  • non-film cameras - these are devices like digital cameras that don’t use photographic film or plates to record images
  • play, player - in this guide, a sound or video player is a device that reproduces recorded or saved sound or video
  • portable - in this guide, a ‘portable’ electrical appliance is one that can operate without an external power source - it might, for example, be powered by internal batteries, a built-in clockwork generator or an integral solar panel. It might be able to work with an external power source too
  • radio, radio tuner and radio receiver - these terms are used interchangeably in this guide and refer to a device that can receive radio broadcasts and signals - note though that a radio tuner might not have a built-in amplifier
  • video recorder, cassette recorder - common names for devices that can often both record and play back sound or video

Further information

The free on-line UK Trade Tariff is available for your use to look up classification codes. This offers easy access to tariff information by providing commodity code and duty rate listings together with a search engine to facilitate enquiries and allow self-service to commodity code information.

However if after visiting this site you are unable to self-assess your products, you can request additional support by sending a request by email to classification.enquiries@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

Ensure that one item only is detailed per email and that the request includes the following type of information, so that we can deal with your enquiry efficiently:

  • what the product is
  • what it is made of, if made or more than one material explain the breakdown of the materials
  • what it is used for
  • how the product works/functions
  • how it is presented/packaged

Additionally detailed below is some additional information that is required on certain products:

  • footwear: include the type (for example, shoe, boot, slipper), upper material details, outer sole material details, the heel height and the purpose for men or woman
  • food: include precise composition details by percentage weight of all the ingredients to 100% and the method of manufacture or process undergone, for example fresh, frozen, dried, further prepared / preserved
  • chemicals: include the Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number, whether the product is a liquid / powder / solid and include the % ingredients
  • textiles: include the material composition, how it is constructed (knitted / woven) and the name of fabric
  • vehicles: include the age, the engine type (petrol or diesel), the engine size, whether the vehicle is new or used, whether the vehicle is over 30 years old and whether it is in its original condition, is the vehicle going to be for everyday use

A classification officer will then email a response back to you providing you with non-legally binding classification advice based on the information you have supplied.

HSENs purchase information on the World Customs Organization website

Guide on telecoms, radiocomms and broadcasting equipment

Published 2 August 2012
Last updated 19 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Revisions to classification details for imports and exports.
  2. Revisions to classification details for import and export.
  3. Revisions to classification details for import and export.
  4. Change of service contact details, as of the 1 September 2015 the tariff classification helpline is changing from telephone contact to email.
  5. First published.