Guidance

Classifying electric lamps for import and export

How to classify electric lamps for import or export: guidance to using the UK Trade Tariff and full list of exceptions.

Introduction

Most electric lamps are relatively simple to classify. For household and general lighting equipment, check heading code 9405 of the Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom (the Tariff), where you can classify a piece of equipment according to its type, its intended use and the type of material from which it’s predominantly manufactured.

For lamps and lighting equipment designed for use in motor vehicles or self-powered portable lights, check heading codes 8512 and 8513 respectively.

When classifying replacement bulbs, lamps and parts there are a number of very specific headings to consider. However, the vast majority of replacement bulbs and lamps are classified under heading code 8539, so provided you know which type of bulb or lamp you’re importing, you should be able to find the correct code.

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

This guide will help you to classify electric lamps correctly. In general terms, electric lamps aren’t complex to classify, provided you have an understanding of the type of lamp and its intended use.

You’ll have to check different parts of the Tariff to find the correct classification as lamps for specific purposes are classified in the chapter of the Tariff most appropriate to their use. For example, toy lamps are classified in chapter 95 (toys), while battery-powered torches are classified in chapter 85 (machinery and mechanical appliances).

The more detailed information you have about the type of lamp or bulb, the easier it will be to classify it correctly. You need to know the type of lamp (such as halogen, tungsten, fluorescent, etc) and the voltage.

Quick reference table for heading codes

Item Heading code
Electric ceiling or wall-lighting fittings, chandeliers, excluding those of a kind used for lighting public open spaces or thoroughfares 9405 10
Electric table, desk, bedside or floor-standing lamps 9405 20
Lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees 9405 30
Searchlights and spotlights 9405 40 10
Toy lamps or lighting figures 9503
Lighting or visual-signalling equipment used on bicycles 8512 10 00 00
Other lighting or visual signalling equipment 8512 20 00
Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy, eg battery power torch 8513 10 00 00
Electric filament or discharge lamps, including sealed beam lamp units and ultra-violet or infra-red lamps, arc lamps; light-emitting diode (LED) lamps 8539
Seal beam lamp units 8539 10 00 90
Seal beam lamps for motor vehicles 8539 29 30 00
Halogen lamps for motor vehicles 8539 21 30 00
Xenon lamps for motor vehicles 8539 39 80 90
Mains voltage halogen bulbs greater than 100 volts 8539 21 92 90
Low voltage halogen bulbs less than 100 volts 8539 21 98 90
Standard tungsten lamps greater than 100 volts 8539 22 90 90
Tungsten reflector lamps greater than 100 volts 8539 22 10 90
Fluorescent tube - double ended cap type 8539 3110 90
Energy-saving lamps 8539 31 90 90
Mercury vapour lamps 8539 32 20 00
Sodium vapour lamps 8539 32 20 00
Metal halide lamps 8539 32 90 90
Neon lamps 8539 39 80 90
Ultra-violet lamps 8539 49 00 00
Infra-red lamps 8539 49 00 00
Light-emitting diode (LED) lamps 8539 50 00 00
LED lamps and bulbs 8543 70 90 99
LED strip comprising of Light Emitting Diodes, transistors, resistors and protection diodes, (EC Reg 708/2013) 940540
Photographic flashes 9006 61 00 00

You will find lamps classified in the Tariff according to their predominant use. Your first step is to clarify the intended use for the lamp. The following are classified under chapter 94:

  • complete lamps
  • lighting fittings or illumination devices such as table, wall or ceiling fittings
  • street lamps
  • studio lamps
  • Christmas lights
  • medical and photographic lights
  • lighting equipment for aircraft, boats and trains
  • inspection lamps

Exceptions and difficult classifications

Lighting for motor vehicles and bicycles are classified under heading code 8512.

Portable lamps with a built-in power source, such as battery powered torches, are classified under heading code 8513.

Toy lamps are classified under chapter 95, which covers toys.

General Interpretive Rules

General Interpretive Rules (GIRs) apply to the classification of electric lamps.

The GIRs in section 1 of the Tariff set out principles for classifying goods. When classifying electric lamps, certain GIRs may have particular relevance for goods like dual purpose and composite goods (GIR 1), and specially made carrying cases and packaging materials (GIR 5).

Multifunctional goods

Multifunctional goods are items that are designed to perform 2 or more complementary or alternative functions. For example, a clock radio may tell the time and also provide a bedside light.

To classify a multifunctional item correctly, try to establish what its main function is. 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.

Note 3 to Section XVI of the Tariff sets out the legal basis for classifying multifunctional products that have a principle function.

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

Classifying replacement bulbs and lamps (includes photos)

In order to establish the correct classification for replacement lamps and bulbs, you must be clear about the type of lamp and bulb in question, its voltage and intended use.

decor lamp
Standard light bulbs (sometimes referred to as general lighting service bulbs), candle bulbs, filament striplights that are non-fluorescent, and appliance lamps and have a voltage exceeding 100 volts and a power rating below 200 watts, are classified under subheading code 8539 22 10 90. This code covers both European and North American voltages.
reflector bulb
Halogen reflector bulbs are classified under subheading code 8539 21 92 90. This applies to European or North American mains-supply bulbs.
PAR lamp
Standard tungsten lamps, which usually feature a tungsten filament in a glass envelope, have a voltage exceeding 100 volts and a power rating below 200 watts, are classified under subheading code 8539 22 10 90. This code covers both European and North American voltages. Mains-voltage tungsten lamps exceeding 200 watts, such as high-power studio and theatrical lamps, are classified under subheading code 8539 29 92 90. Note that these have largely been superseded by halogen equivalents.
energy saving lamp
Single-ended, compact-fluorescent lamps (also known as energy-saving or low-energy bulbs) usually have the control gear built in so that they can be used as a direct replacement for ordinary tungsten lamps. They are classified under subheading code 8539 31 90 90.
2D tube
2D tubes, where the tube is folded into the shape of two 'D's, are classified under subheading code 8539 31 90 90.
fluorescent tube
Traditional non-UV (ultra-violet) fluorescent tubes (usually straight or circular with a connector at each end), often used in domestic and commercial lighting, are classified under subheading code 8539 31 10 90.
Xenon discharge
Xenon car bulbs, used for headlamps or fog lights, are classified under subheading code 8539 39 80 90.
halogen headlamp
Halogen headlamp bulbs are classified under subheading code 8539 21 30 00.
halogen linear
Halogen linear lamps used in outdoor flood lamp settings are classified under subheading code 8539 21 92 90.
halogen capsule
Halogen capsules with a voltage below 100 volts are classified under subheading code 8539 21 98 90.
mirror bulb
Low-voltage halogen mirror bulbs which have a faceted reflector are classified under subheading code 8539 21 98 90.
metal halide
Metal halide lamps are classified under subheading code 8539 32 90 90.
UV lamp
UV lamps are classified under subheading code 8539 49 00 00. Infra-red lamps are classified under subheading code 8539 49 00 00.
LED lamp
LED (light emitting diode) lamps and bulbs, which use light emitting diodes instead of conventional filaments are classified under subheading code 8539 50 00 00.
LED strip
LED strip comprising of Light Emitting Diodes, transistors, resistors and protection diodes (EC Reg 708/2013 refers), are classified under subheading code 940540.

Replacement bulbs or tubes

The vast majority of replacement bulbs or tubes are classified under heading code 8539. The classification code will depend on the type of bulb or tube and its voltage, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got these details to hand.

Neon lamps, formed into designed shapes including lettering, such as shop signs and outdoor advertising, are classified under subheading code 8539 39 80 90.

Cold cathode lamps, often used for backlighting liquid crystal displays and instrument screens, or in document and barcode scanners, are classified under subheading code 8539 39 80 90.

Sealed beam lamp units are classified under subheading code 8539 10. When they’re for civil aircraft used as landing lights, they’re classified under subheading code 8539 10 00 10. Sealed beam headlamps for motor vehicles, usually seven inches in diameter, are classified to subheading code 8539 10 00 90. However, you should bear in mind that these are rarely used in modern cars, and complete headlamp or rear lamp units using separate bulbs are classified under heading code 8512.

Standard filament lamps for motor vehicles, including brake, indicator, panel and interior lamps, are classified under subheading code 8539 29 30 00.

Classifying electric lamps parts

Some parts for electric lamps are classified in other areas of the Tariff.

Specifically:

  • glass envelopes and reflectors are classified under heading code 7011
  • ballast for fluorescent lamps are classified under heading code 8504
  • arc lamp carbons are classified under heading code 8545
  • carbon filaments are classified under heading code 8545
  • photographic flashbulbs are classified under heading code 9006
  • ballast for discharge lamps and tubes are classified under heading code 8504
  • lamp bases - sometimes known as caps, such as bayonet or screw caps - are classified under subheading code 8539 90 10 00

The following items are all classified under subheading code 8539 90 90 00:

  • tungsten filaments
  • electrodes for discharge lamps
  • glass parts for mounting inside lamps or tubes
  • supporting brackets for filaments

Further information

The free on-line UK Trade Tariff on the GOV.UK website 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.

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

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

  • footwear: please include the type (shoe, boot, slipper etc.), upper material details, outer sole material details, the heel height and the purpose for men or woman
  • food: please include precise composition details by percentage weight of all the ingredients to 100% and the method of manufacture or process undergone eg fresh, frozen, dried, further prepared / preserved etc
  • chemicals: please include the Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number, whether the product is a liquid / powder / solid and include the % ingredients
  • textiles: please include the material composition, how it is constructed (knitted / woven) and the name of fabric
  • vehicles: please 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.

Published 3 August 2012
Last updated 27 February 2017 + show all updates
  1. Minor text changes and updates to heading codes.
  2. Change of service contact details, as of the 1 September 2015 the tariff classification helpline is changing from telephone contact to email.
  3. First published.