Customs Tariff for LED Light Bulbs

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Case law

Just recently, the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam ruled on the customs tariff of LED Lights Bulbs. More specifically, the question was whether LED-light bulbs ought te be classified under:

  • heading 8541.4010 (0%) “light emitting diodes”
  • heading 8543.7090 (3,7%) “electrical equipment having individual functions”
  • heading 8539.2290 (2,7%) “electric light bulbs, other”

The District Court had ruled that these LED-light bulbs ought to be classified under heading 8543 as being: “electrical equipment having individual functions. The Court of Appeal came to a different conclusion.

The LED light bulbs in this particular dispute consisted of a printed circuit with 6 light emitting diodes attached. It also has a glass ball and a so called Edison (E-27) socket. They probably looked like any other traditional light bulb.

File 157

The Court of Appeal states that the lights cannot be classified under heading 8541, because these bulbs not only consist of light emitting diodes but have many different components, which are all indispensable for its functioning.  When the Court speaks of several different components, classification rule 3b pops up in my mind as well as terms as “essential character”.  Well anyway..

Regarding to heading 8543, the Court states that these lights bulbs do not have an own function, but only work when they are fixed in a luminaire. I find this rather remarkable, because a remote-control which is imported separately, only works I combination with a television, right? And what about a music mixer, that will only function in combination with a turntable. Those are all items with an individual function.

The Court concludes that classification rule 1,2 and 3 do not apply, as a result of which the Court ends up with classification rule number 4, which describes that a product must be classified according to the product to which it is most akin.

Then the Court states that LED-lights have a metal lamp base with a screw-thread and complies with the E-27 standard. If one pays attention to the objective nature of the product, the use of the light bulb is to put it in a luminaire. As a result, the LED light Bulbs are most akin to the traditional light bulbs and should therefore be classified similarly under heading 8539 at 2,7%.

I’m going to study this judgment more thoroughly, but I already like the fact that the Court used  classification rule 4. This offers plenty of possibilities, because based on this decision, I am (almost) sure I can get an eBook classified as a paperback book, and an electrical car as…… well that is up to you!

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