CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 952406 MBR
Ms. Laura Lyons
1090 East Duane Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
RE: AT&T Call Display; Telephone Caller ID Unit; Telephonic
Apparatus; NEC America, Inc. v. United States; 8531; 8517
Dear Ms. Lyons:
This is in reply to your letter of July 9, 1992, requesting
classification of the AT&T Call Display unit, under the Harmonized
Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).
The telephone "Call Display" unit is a device that displays
the telephone number of a calling party on a liquid crystal display
(LCD). A coded representation of the calling party's telephone
number is sent on the telephone line to the unit, which plugs into
a standard modular wall jack. The caller's number is stored in
chip memory so that the user can review the information at a later
date. The Call Display also records the time and date of call.
The unit does not require that a telephone be attached in order to
What is the classification of the telephone "Call Display,"
under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)?
Is it classifiable under heading 8531, HTSUS, which provides for
electric sound or visual signalling apparatus, or is it
classifiable under heading 8517, HTSUS, which provides for
electrical apparatus for line telephony?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS
govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1
states, in pertinent part:
...classification shall be determined according to the terms
of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...
In HQ 088520, dated September 10, 1991, we classified a
similar telephone "Caller ID" unit under subheading 8531.80.00,
HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectric sound or visual signalling
apparatus, other than those of heading 8512 or 8530: [o]ther
apparatus: [i]ndicator panels: [o]ther."
In HQ 088520 we cited the Harmonized Commodity Description and
Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the HTSUS, page 1382,
With the exception of signalling apparatus used on cycles or
motor vehicles (heading 85.12) and that for traffic control
on roads, railways, etc. (heading 85.30), this heading covers
all electrical apparatus used for signalling purposes, whether
using sound for the transmission of the signal (bells,
buzzers, hooters, etc.) or using visual indication (lamps,
flaps, illuminated numbers, etc.), and whether operated by
hand (e.g., door bells) or automatically (e.g., burglar
(2) Number indicators. The signals appear as illuminated
figures on the face of a small box; in some apparatus of
this kind the calling mechanism is operated by the dial
of the telephone....
Since the "Caller ID" unit visually signals the numbers
associated with telephone numbers and because the unit is activated
by the dial of a telephone, we found the unit to be classifiable
in heading 8531, HTSUS.
However, the court in NEC America, Inc. v. United States, 11
CIT 934 (1987), held that battery operated paging receivers were
classifiable under item 685.24, TSUS, which provides for "other
solid-state (tubeless) radio receivers." Item 685.70, TSUS, is the
predecessor provision to heading 8531, HTSUS. The court in NEC
America, citing the prior NEC America, Inc. v. United States, 8 CIT
184, 596 F. Supp. 466 (1984), stated:
After examining prior case law, the court indicated that
classification under item 685.70, TSUS, was "limited to those
articles whose sole purpose and function is merely
signalling." Hence, the court concluded that the superior
capabilities of the display pagers in issue, with their
ability to display information in digital form and to retain
it for later recall, clearly "transcend merely signalling."
Therefore, it has been argued that the telephone "Call
Display" is properly classifiable as telephonic apparatus. After
further analysis, we agree that the functions of the Call Display,
like the display pagers, transcend mere signalling by displaying
information in digital form and retaining it for later recall. See
HQ 952779, of this date, for the revocation of HQ 088520.
The AT&T telephone "Call Display" is classifiable in
subheading 8517.81.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectrical
apparatus for line telephony...: [o]ther apparatus: [t]elephonic."
The rate of duty is 8.5% ad valorem.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division