Collection of customs duty on image sensors suspended

FRAMOS eliminates cost factor for European industry

FRAMOS GmbH has achieved a Europe-wide suspension of customs duty on CMOS image sensors with the support of two members of the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament) and the industrial association VDMA. Allocating imported goods into the correct customs tariff class is a complicated task, especially when a range of applicable tariff groups exist. A typical example in this regard is the correct allocation of imaging sensors, especially CCD and CMOS sensors. As all of the main functional assemblies are housed on a chip, it is reasonable to allocate CCD and CMOS to tariff group 8542 for “Integrated circuits” and thus to account for them as exempt from duty. However, the usual interpretation applied by customs officials is that this tariff group is not applicable to these components, since almost all sensors commonly used nowadays also contain purely optical elements (micro lenses, colour filters) without an electrical input or output signal. Under this interpretation, such an imaging sensor is not an integrated circuit. Instead, the sensors are to be allocated to tariff group “8529 – Parts for television cameras” and are therefore subject to a hefty rate of duty. A customs duty suspension has already been in place for special CCD sensors within the applicable customs tariff number 85.29 9092 since 2010. As the technical description broadly applies both to CCD and to CMOS within the scope of this customs duty suspension, the FRAMOS Group, one of the biggest European importers of image sensors, filed an application to have the customs duty suspension extended to cover CMOS sensors. This application was approved with effect from 1 January 2013.

Dr. Andreas Franz, CEO of FRAMOS, explains the impact of this ruling: “This success delivers enormous financial relief for the image processing sector and European industry as a whole.”

The prevalence of CMOS sensors has increased in virtually every relevant branch of industry in recent years. The automotive industry, in particular, is increasingly reliant on imaging techniques and extensively on CMOS technology. The trend is also sharply upwards in the areas of quality assurance, process automation and medical technology. In order to get its application passed, FRAMOS secured the committed support of two members of the German Bundestag, Florian Hahn (CSU) and Jimmy Schulz (FDP), as well as the industrial association VDMA.

Dr. Simon Che’Rose, Technical Director at FRAMOS explains: “After lengthy negotiations, the application was accepted by the European Commission. This decision is in the interest of the European Union and is justified by the economic relevance of image processing technology. It is a success for FRAMOS, the image processing sector and European industry.”


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