Tariff Classification of E-Book-Readers (Federal Financial Court)

BFH, judgement of 26. January 2016 – VII R 13/13.


The decision of the BFH deals with the question of how readers for electronic books, called ,, e-reader “, are to be treated for tariff purposes.

In dispute was whether the dictionary function which can be found in some e-readers has any influence on the tariffing of the goods. The competent customs authority classifided the e-readers under subheading 8543 70 90 of the Combined Nomenclature (CN) leading to a duty of 3.7 %. The description of the position is “Electrical machinery and apparatus, having individual functions, elsewhere in this Chapter not specified or included; other”. The CN does not contain any separate subheading for e-readers. The competent authority, Hauptzollamt (HZA), chose a classification under subheading 8543 70 90, the claimant under subheading 8543 70 10 CN.

The Federal Financial Court ruled that the HZA was correct and convincingly represents the view that an additional function like the dictionary function is not decisive for the classification under the Customs Tariff. Goods must be assessed according to its principal function. A classification under subheading 8543 70 10 of the CN is thus not possible.