CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955497 MBR
Mr. Perry Sobol
American Telecommunications Corporation
P.O. Box 7266
Charlottesville, VA 22901
RE: Caller ID Unit; Signalling Apparatus; Telephonic Apparatus;
8531; 8517; HQs 954390, 953366
Dear Mr. Sobol:
This is in reply to your letters of September 13, 1993, and
November 18, 1993, requesting the classification of a "Caller ID,"
under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).
Your letters were forwarded to this office for reply.
The American Telecommunications Corporation telephone "Caller
ID" unit, model number ATADJ-CG-100, is a device that displays the
telephone number of a calling party on a liquid crystal display
(LCD). The unit plugs into a standard telephone modular wall jack.
A coded representation of the calling party's telephone number is
sent on the telephone line to the unit, where the caller's
telephone number is displayed. The caller's number is also stored
in chip memory so that the user can review the information at a
later date. The Caller ID also records the time and date of call.
The unit operates independently of the telephone and does not
require the attachment of a telephone in order to operate properly.
Is the Caller ID unit classifiable under heading 8531, HTSUS,
as electric sound or visual signalling apparatus, or under heading
8517, HTSUS, as 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...
The current legal precedent for the classification of Caller
ID units is HQ 953366, dated April 5, 1993, as affirmed by 954390,
dated October 7, 1993, which held that Caller ID units were
classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS, which provides for signalling
apparatus. In HQ 953366 Customs cited the Harmonized Commodity
Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes ("ENs") regarding
heading 85.31, page 1382, which state that signalling apparatus
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 a telephone.
Although not dispositive, the ENs are to be used for guidance
in determining the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed.
Reg. 35128 (August 23, 1989).
Additionally, in HQ 953366 Customs stated the following:
"[a]lthough the devices appear to be prima facie described by
heading 8517, HTSUS, they are still classified in heading 8531,
HTSUS, where they are more specifically provided for pursuant to
GRI 3." Thus, we relied on GRI 3(a), which provides that: "[t]he
heading which provides the most specific description shall be
preferred to headings providing a more general description."
Therefore, signalling apparatus, such as Caller IDs, whose
sole purpose and function is merely signalling, and particularly
apparatus which is enumerated in the ENs in heading 85.31, is
properly classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS.
The American Telecommunications Corporation telephone Caller
ID unit, model ATADJ-CG, is classifiable in subheading 8531.20.00,
HTSUS, which provides for signalling apparatus. The rate of duty
is 2.7 percent ad valorem.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division
Enclosures: HQ 953366