Guidance

Classifying monitors for import and export

How to classify monitors for the purposes of the UK Trade Tariff.

Introduction

This guide will help you to classify monitors for the purposes of the UK Trade Tariff.

Monitors presented separately are classified in Chapter 85 of the Tariff, specifically in heading 8528.

Monitors may be classified according to:

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

Background

Early Visual Display Units (VDU) typically resembled the portable televisions of the day being based on cathode ray tube (CRT) technology, but were considerably less functional, for example, they could not accept input from a television aerial. The VDU accepted a digital input, but contained internal electronics to convert that input back into an analogue waveform to drive the CRT.

As technology evolved, the VDU adopted limited graphics capability to deal with the computer games of the day.

When televisions and VDU adopted digital rather than analogue display technology, the line between TV and computer screens became blurred. This has resulted in increasingly fine distinctions being drawn between TV and computer screens, distinctions which were rapidly rendered obsolete by the march of technology.

Until 2007, computer screens were classified in heading 8471 (the relevant text covered ‘Automatic data-processing (ADP) machines and units thereof’ and other screens were classified in heading 8528. From 2007 to date, all separately presented screens (monitors) are classified in heading 8528.

The structure that exists today has been influenced by the following provisions:

  • the Information Technology Agreement, which resulted in a 0% duty rate for computer monitors, implemented from 1997
  • a World Trade Organisation Disputes Panel, implemented July 2011
  • a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) - Kamino International Logistics BV (C-376/07)

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

The current structure

Heading 8528 covers:

  • monitors and projectors, not incorporating television reception apparatus
  • reception apparatus for television, whether or not incorporating radio-broadcast receivers or sound or video recording or reproducing apparatus

The heading is divided into the following subheadings:

  • CRT monitors
    • of a kind solely or principally used in ADP systems (8528.42)
    • other (8528.49)
  • other monitors
    • of a kind solely or principally used in ADP systems (8528.5210)
    • other - being flat panel displays capable of displaying ADP signals with an acceptable degree of functionality (8528.59 29 10 or 8528.52 99)
    • other, either not being a flat panel display or being a flat panel display which is incapable of displaying an ADP signal with an acceptable degree of functionality (8528.59 00)
  • projectors (8528.62 if solely or principally for ADP use - 8528.69 if not)
  • reception apparatus for television, whether or not incorporating radio broadcast receivers or video recording or reproducing apparatus (8528.71, 8528.72, 8528.73)

This structure retains the need to distinguish between television screens and other monitors, and within the monitor classification, between those used solely or principally with ADP machines, and those that are not.

The classification of monitors is sub-divided between those that are of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system of heading 8471, and other monitors. In respect of monitors other than the CRT type, a duty free treatment was provided from October 2013 specifically due to the convergence of digital technologies.

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 6 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 4 digit code, while a chapter code is a 2 digit 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 6 or more digits. So if an item is classified using a code of 6 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’ve 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.

Quick reference table to Tariff codes

Item Tariff code
CRT monitors solely or principally for use in an ADP system 8528 42 00
CRT monitors - other 8528 49 00
Flat screen monitors solely or principally for use in an ADP system 8528 5210
Flat screen monitors - other, with acceptable functionality when used with ADP machines 8528 5291 or 85285299
Flat screen monitors - other, lacking acceptable functionality when used with ADP machines 8528 59 00
Projectors solely or principally used in an ADP system 8528 62 00
Projectors other than solely or principally for use in an ADP system 8528 69
TV reception apparatus lacking a screen 8528 71
TV reception apparatus incorporating a colour screen 8528 72

Classifying flat panel displays incorporating a TV tuner

A television tuner may be analogue or digital, but following the UK’s digital switchover which was completed in 2012, most will be digital. They include integral Freeview digital receivers, which take a signal from a UHF aerial and decode the digital information to display it on the screen. Since 2011, most new flat panel televisions have incorporated Freeview receivers.

Any flat panel display (or indeed CRT device) incorporating Freeview or any other television tuner is classified as television reception apparatus under Tariff code 8528 7x xx xx. When considering older devices, the existence of an analogue television tuner within the device is determinative. Similarly, the lack of such a tuner is also key, notwithstanding the fact that the device may incorporate interfaces typical of television technology, such as UHF aerial connectors, SCART connectors and the like.

Certain types of set-top boxes do not incorporate a tuner, but are classified as TV receivers within heading 8528 (8528 71 91/99).

Judgment by the CJEU

When classifying monitors, it is necessary to consider the provisions of the decision by the CJEU in the Kamino International Logistics BV case (C-376/07). The court said that the number and type of sockets alone could not constitute decisive criteria for the Tariff classification of monitors.

Consequently an assessment must be made, in relation also to other criteria and in the light of the characteristics and objective properties of those monitors, both as to the degree to which they are capable of performing a number of functions and as to the standard of performance which they achieve when performing those functions.

In summary, it is necessary to consider a monitors objective characteristics and properties, and to assess the degree and standard to which the monitor performs.

The judgment can be viewed on the Europa.eu website

Commission Implementing Regulations

Commission Implementing Regulations are legally binding on all EU member states. The following Regulations can be viewed on the Europa.eu website.

Regulations classifying products in subheading 8528 51 00

Commission Implementing Regulation 111/2014

Official Journal reference/date: L38/7 February 2014
Product summary: liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor with touch screen
Classification: 8528 51 00
Reasons summary

Objective characteristics:

  • aspect ratio (4:3)
  • pixel pitch suitable for prolonged close viewing (0.297)
  • brightness (250 candela per square metre (cd/m2))
  • interfaces commonly used in ADP systems (D-subminiature (D-Sub), Universal Serial Bus (USB), RS-232)
  • tilt and swivel mechanism
  • glare free surface

As the monitor (heading 8528) can function independently of the X-Y coordinate input device (heading 8471), the monitor is the apparatus’ principal function.

An assessment of the overall characteristics of the product resulted in a classification as a monitor ‘of a kind solely or principally used in an automatic data-processing system of heading 8471’.

Commission Implementing Regulation 310/2014

Official Journal reference/date: L91/27 March 2014
Product summary: LCD monitor presented for use with ADP machines.
Classification: 8528 51 00
Reasons summary

Objective characteristics:

  • native resolution (1440 × 900 pixels)
  • supported resolutions (640 × 480, 800 × 600, 1024 × 768 and 1280 × 1024 pixels)
  • aspect ratio (16:10)
  • pixel pitch not suitable for prolonged close viewing (0.285)
  • brightness (300 cd/m2)
  • interfaces commonly used in ADP systems (digital visual interface (digital only) (DVI-D), visual graphics array (VGA))

An assessment of the overall characteristics of the product resulted in classification as a monitor ‘of a kind solely or principally used in an automatic data-processing system of heading 8471’.

Regulations classifying products in subheading 8528 59 31

Commission Implementing Regulation 112/2014

Official Journal reference/date: L38/7 February 2014
Product Summary: LCD monitor presented for use in information display applications.
Classification: 8528 59 31
Reasons Summary

Objective characteristics:

  • size of the screen (30 inches)
  • supported TV standards (National Television System Committee (NTSC), Phase Alternating Line (PAL), SECAM (Sequential Color with Memory))
  • supported video modes (480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i)
  • pixel pitch not suitable for prolonged close viewing (0.5025 millimetres (mm))
  • high brightness (450 cd/m2)
  • presence of a:
    • remote control
    • picture in picture function
    • fixed stand without tilt and swivel mechanisms

An assessment of the overall characteristics of the product determined that the goods are capable of displaying signals from an ADP machine at a level sufficient for practical use with the ADP machine, which resulted in classification as ‘flat panel displays able to display signals from automatic data-processing machines with an acceptable level of functionality’.

Commission Implementing Regulation 114/2014

Official Journal reference/date: L38/7 February 2014
Product summary: LCD monitor presented for use in medical systems for displaying radiographic images for clinical diagnostics.
Classification: 8528 59 31

Objective characteristics:

  • conformity to Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine standards

The monitor’s intended use is that of a medical display used in medical systems for displaying radiographic images for clinical diagnostics. The goods are capable of displaying signals from an ADP machine at a level sufficient for practical use with the ADP machine, which resulted in classification as ‘flat panel displays able to display signals from ADP machines with an acceptable level of functionality’.

Commission Implementing Regulation 459/2014, Annex II

Official Journal reference/date: L133/6 May 2014
Video glasses
Classification: 8528 59 31

Regulation classifying products in subheading 8528 59 70

Commission Implementing Regulation 459/2014

Official Journal reference/date: L133/6 May 2014

Annex I

Item 1

Digital photo frame
Classification: 8528 5900

The apparatus cannot display signals from an ADP machine.

Item 2

Digital picture frame
Classification: 8528 59 00

The apparatus has USB interfaces that are only used for the transfer of media files. Consequently, the apparatus isn’t able to display signals directly from an ADP machine.

Annex II

Portable DVD player
Classification: 8528 5900

The apparatus has a USB interface which is only used for the transfer of media files. Consequently, the apparatus isn’t able to display signals directly from an ADP machine.

Annex IV

Item 1

A multifunctional apparatus of a kind used in motor vehicles
Classification: 8528 5900
Reasons summary

Objective characteristics:

  • sound reproduction
  • video reproduction
  • radio-broadcasting
  • displaying video

The product can’t display signals from an ADP machine. An assessment of the overall characteristics of the product determined that none of the functions gave the apparatus its essential character, resulting in classification in subheading 8528 5900 (GIR 3c).

Item 2

A multifunctional apparatus of a kind used in motor vehicles
Classification: 8528 5900
Reasons summary

Objective characteristics:

  • sound reproduction
  • video reproduction
  • radio-broadcasting
  • displaying video

The product has a USB interface which is only used for reproducing audio or video from a USB memory stick. Consequently, the apparatus isn’t able to display signals directly from an ADP machine. An assessment of the overall characteristics of the product determined that none of the functions gave the apparatus its essential character, resulting in classification in subheading 8528 5900 (GIR 3c).

Item 3

A multifunctional apparatus of a kind used in motor vehicles
Classification: 8528 5900
Reasons summary

Objective characteristics:

  • sound reproduction
  • video reproduction
  • radio navigational aid
  • radio-broadcasting
  • displaying video

The product can’t display signals from an ADP machine. An assessment of the overall characteristics of the product determined that none of the functions gave the apparatus its essential character, resulting in classification in subheading 8528 5900 (GIR 3c).

HS classification opinions

LCD colour monitor with a 22 inch screen

Classification: 8528 52

Product features include:

  • true resolution (1680 × 1050 pixels)
  • pixel pitch (0.282)
  • brightness (250 cd/m2)
  • contrast ratio (50000:1)
  • interfaces (DVI-D, VGA)

LCD colour monitor with a 23.1 inch touch sensitive screen

Classification 8528 52

Product features include:

  • resolution (1600 × 1200 pixels)
  • pixel pitch (0.294 × 0.294)
  • brightness (400 cd/m2)
  • images supported (VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA, UXGA, WUXGA, Wide UXGA)
  • video standards supported (interlaced NTSC and PAL/SECAM video, composite video.
  • interfaces (DVI-I, RGB, D-Sub, USB, I/O)

Exclusively designed, tested and type approved for and used in navigation and automation systems on ships, and is always used in a system configuration with an ADP machine as its primary control and signal source.

LCD colour monitor with a 19 inch screen

Classification 8528 52

Product features include:

  • resolution (1280 × 1024 pixels)
  • pixel pitch (0.294)
  • brightness (250 cd/m2)
  • contrast ratio (1000:1)
  • interfaces (DVI-D, USB, VGA)

LCD colour monitor with a 20.1 inch screen

Classification 8528 52

Product features include:

  • resolution (1600 × 1200 pixels)
  • pixel pitch (0.258)
  • brightness (300 cd/m2)
  • contrast ratio (1000:1)

The Classification Opinions were adopted at the 47th and 51st sessions of the Harmonised System Committee. Details can be found at the www.wcoomd.org website then under Amendments to the Compendium of Classification Opinions, entries OPHS47en and OPHS51en.

Classifying CRT monitors (subheadings 8528 42, 8528 49)

Classification in subheading 8528 42 - see guidance under ‘Classifying computer monitors’ below.

Other CRT monitors will be classified in subheading 8528 49.

Classifying monitors other than the CRT type

Classifying computer monitors (subheading 8528 5210)

These goods will be classified in subheading 8528 5210, which covers monitors ‘of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system of heading 8471’.

The relevant part of the text of heading 8471 is ‘ADP machines and units thereof’.

Subheading note 1 to Chapter 84:

Note 1. For the purposes of subheading 8471 49, the term ‘systems’ means ADP machines whose units satisfy the conditions laid down in note 5c to Chapter 84 and which comprise at least a central processing unit, one input unit (for example, a keyboard or a scanner), and one output unit (for example, a visual display unit or a printer).

Note 5c to Chapter 84:

‘C. Subject to paragraphs (D) and (E) below, a unit is to be regarded as being a part of an ADP system if it meets all the following conditions:

(1) it is of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system
(2) it is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units
(3) it is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system

Separately presented units of an ADP machine are to be classified in heading 8471.

However keyboards, X-Y coordinate input devices and disk storage units which satisfy the conditions of paragraphs (C) (2) and (C) (3) are in all cases to be classified as units in heading 847 of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system’.

Flat panel displays take inputs of digital signals and display them. It is necessary to isolate the characteristics of monitors used primarily with ADP systems of heading 8471. Since it is impossible to distinguish an ADP digital signal from any other digital signal (for example, from a games console or DVD player), it follows that the characteristics in question are those relating to secondary factors, such as the format of the display, the user’s ability to focus on it for prolonged periods and the sort of interfaces it accepts.

These factors by themselves tend not to be determinative, but when taken together provide a reasonable indication of the intended use of the product. In accordance with the Kamino CJEU Judgment, it is necessary to make an overall assessment of the monitors’ objective characteristics whether a classification in subheading 8528 51 00 is appropriate.

The Commission Implementing Regulations and HS Classification Opinions referred to above provide indications of the appropriate criteria to consider.

The following criteria taken together may indicate a classification in subheading 8528 5210.

Aspect ratio of 4:3

An aspect ratio of 4:3 is highly indicative of ADP usage because it is below the standard required for most other uses. However, a higher aspect ratio may, in some cases, be an indicator of ADP usage.

Small pixel pitch

A small pixel pitch results in sharp images, indicative of prolonged close viewing.

Tilt and swivel stand

Users of computer screens tend to view the screen for prolonged periods and do so from close to the screen. Stands can be adjusted to obtain the optimum viewing angle. Monitors with wide viewing angles are less likely to be primarily computer monitors, as are those without tilt and swivel stands.

Interfaces

The presence of a D-sub connector, DVI connector, RS232, RS422 serial ports, RJ45 or 8P8C network connectors are indicators of use with computer monitors, although they are commonly used in other applications.

A monitor that accepts only a D-sub connector is likely to be solely or principally for ADP usage, while the presence of a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) connector is indicative that the monitor is not solely or principally for use with ADP systems.

Other features which may also be indicators of a monitor for use solely or principally with an ADP system are:

  • small screen size
  • low brightness
  • glare free surface

Monitors which don’t meet the criteria for classification in subheading 8528 5210 will be classified in 8528 59.

Classifying ‘other’ monitors, specifically ‘flat panel displays able to display signals from ADP machines with an acceptable level of functionality’ (subheadings 8528 5291 and 8528 5299)

How to define an acceptable level of functionality

As many monitors accept signals from an ADP machine, and from other sources, it is very difficult to determine whether or not such monitors are of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system of heading 8471.

The European Commission concluded that such a determination based on technical characteristics alone is impossible, and proposed duty-free treatment of such monitors. To assess whether the goods are classified in subheading 8528 5210, or in 8528 529, it is necessary to determine whether a monitor can display signals with an acceptable level of functionality.

Council Regulation (EU) No 953/2013

Official Journal reference/date: L263/5 October 2013.

The Regulation implemented the revised duty rates from 25 October 2013, with a revised structure within subheading 8528 59 introduced from 1 January 2014.

Classifying monitors with an acceptable level of functionality

It is necessary to consider a monitors’ characteristics in determining that the monitor isn’t of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system. Characteristics such as the format of the display, the absence of features intended to accommodate use over long periods, and the type of interfaces it accepts may indicate the required acceptable level of functionality.

These factors by themselves tend not to be determinative, but when taken together provide a reasonable indication of the intended use of the product. In accordance with the Kamino CJEU Judgment, it is necessary to make an overall assessment of the monitors’ objective characteristics in determining whether a classification in subheadings 8528 529 or 8528 5900 is appropriate.

The Commission Implementing Regulations and HS Classification Opinions referred to above provide indications of the appropriate criteria to consider.

The following criteria taken together may indicate a classification in subheading 8528 59.

Aspect ratio of 16:9

An aspect ratio of 16:9 is generally indicative of non-ADP usage, such as television.

Large pixel pitch

A large pixel pitch results in less sharp images, and aren’t indicative of prolonged close viewing.

Interfaces

The presence of a DVI connector, RS232, RS422 serial ports, RJ45 or 8P8C network connectors and HDMI connectors are indicators that the monitor isn’t solely or principally for ADP usage, although with the exception of HDMI connectors, they are also commonly used in computer applications.

The presence of an HDMI connector is indicative that the monitor isn’t for use solely or principally with an ADP system, while a monitor that accepts only a D-Sub connector is likely to be solely or principally for ADP usage.

Absence of a tilt and swivel mechanism for viewing the screen for long periods and absence of a glare free surface.

Other features which may also be indicators of a monitor with an acceptable level of functionality are:

  • large screen size
  • high brightness

Computer microprocessors are to be found at the heart of many devices, which have a non-ADP function. Note 5(E) to Chapter 84 states in essence that such devices are generally not classified as ADP machines.

Note 5(E) to Chapter 84

Machines incorporating or working in conjunction with an ADP machine and performing a specific function other than data processing are to be classified in the headings appropriate to their respective functions or, failing that, in residual headings.

Such devices will be classified in their respective headings, for example, programmable logic controllers (heading 8537), medical devices such as MRI scanners (heading 9018) and Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) hardware (heading 8470).

A monitor that is specifically designed to complement any of these wider systems is unlikely to be of a kind for use solely or principally with an ADP system, as these systems are excluded from the definition of ADP systems by Note 5(E) to Chapter 84.

See also Commission Regulation 114/2014 covering a monitor with an intended use with a medical system.

Monitors which don’t meet the above criteria will be classified in subheading 8528 59 00.

Classifying monitors (subheading 8528 59 00), other than those covered by subheadings 8528 5210, 8528 5291 or 8528 5299

Monitors classified here include those that are unable to connect to an ADP machine, or which are unable to display signals directly from an ADP machine, see also Commission Regulation 459/2014. The Regulation classifies a number of products in subheading 8528 59 70:

  • digital photo/picture frame
  • a portable DVD player
  • multimedia centres for motor vehicles comprising:
    • 1) radio, CD player, DVD player, LCD monitor - diagonal measurement of the screen of approximately 17.5 cm (7 inches)
    • 2) radio, CD player, DVD player, LCD monitor - diagonal measurement of the screen of approximately 8 cm (3.5 inches)
    • 3) radio, CD player, DVD player, radio navigational aid, LCD monitor - diagonal measurement of the screen of approximately 18 cm (7 inches)

Also classified in this subheading are monitors that aren’t flat panel displays, and monitors that are flat panel displays but which don’t display signals from ADP machines with adequate levels of functionality.

Monitors excluded from heading 8528

Monitors that are presented as a component of a product will be classified according to the component that gives the product its essential character or principal function if one can be determined. Examples include smart phones or tablets, analytical instruments (oscilloscopes and the like), restaurant credit card terminals and hand-held computer games.

Monitors that are presented as a component of an ADP system, as defined in subheading Note 1 to Chapter 84, referred to above, will be classified in subheading 8471 49 00.

Summary - classification of monitors other than the CRT type

All monitors presented separately will be classified in heading 8528.

To determine the appropriate subheading, an overall assessment should be made by considering a combination of the products’ objective characteristics. An assessment cannot be made by reference to a single characteristic. The Commission Regulations referred to in this guide provide useful indicators.

Note: it is the screen technology (LCD/OLED/etc) not the backlight technology, which is used.

If a monitor can connect directly to an ADP machine, an assessment will be necessary to determine whether classification in 8528 5210 or in 8528 529 is applicable.

Monitors that display signals from an ADP machine but have an intended use with, for example, a medical system will be classified in subheading 8528 59 29, see also Commission Regulation 114/2014.

If a monitor isn’t capable of displaying signals from an ADP machine or can’t display them directly, classification in 8528 59 00 is applicable.

Further information

Information about the Tariff Classification Service can be found in Classify imports and exports using the UK Trade Tariff guide.

Published 19 February 2015
Last updated 2 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updates made to the Tariff classification guides
  2. Last section of the guide 'summary - classification of monitors other than the CRT type section updated.
  3. First published.