Mr. George Dennis
TV Ears, Inc.
3572 Par Four Drive
San Diego, CA 92019
RE: The tariff classification of TV EARS from China
Dear Mr. Dennis:
In your letter dated April 8, you requested a tariff classification ruling.
The merchandise subject to this ruling is identified in your letter as TV EARS. Upon importation the TV EARS will consist of a wireless headset that incorporates rechargeable batteries, a wireless power microphone, a wireless transmitter, an audio cord, an A/C adaptor, and a headphone adaptor. A sample of this merchandise was submitted for classification purposes and is being returned to you.
The TV EARS HEADSET uses wireless infrared technology to transmit sound from a television to the TV EARS headset. The wireless TV EARS transmitter takes sound from the television, converts it into invisible infrared light, and sends it to the TV EARS headset. The TV EARS headset captures the invisible infrared light and converts it back into sound.
The TV EARS transmitter is powered by standard electric current, while a rechargeable power supply unit powers the receiver/headset. The transmitter is an infrared or light wave-based, monaural transmitter, which sends the sound transmission to the receiver/headset. Generally, the transmitter is connected to an NCI decoder on an individual’s television set. The transmitter unit also incorporates a battery re-charger for the batteries utilized by the receiver/headset.
As was determined to be the case with the wireless headset and infrared transmitter, components of the “Realistic” headphone system Cat. No. 32-2050, in Headquarters’ Ruling Letter 089160, dated August 2, 1991, the TV EARS wireless headset, TV EARS wireless power microphone, TV EARS infrared transmitter, audio cord, A/C adaptor, and headphone adaptor are packaged, imported, and intended to contribute together to perform the clearly defined function of "headphones." Therefore, this functional unit is classifiable under subheading 8518.30.20, HTSUS, which provides for "Headphones, earphones and combined microphone/speaker sets.
The applicable subheading for the TV EARS will be 8518.30.2000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for “Headphones and earphones, whether or not combined with a microphone, and sets consisting of a microphone and one or more loudspeakers: Other.” The rate of duty will be 4.9 percent ad valorem.
Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/.
Your request also addressed the applicability of a secondary classification under HTSUS 9817.00.96, which provides for “Articles specially designed or adapted for the use or benefit of the blind or other physically or mentally handicapped persons; parts and accessories that are specially designed or adapted for use in the foregoing articles: Other.” However, additional information is needed in order to determine if this merchandise is eligible for classification under that HTSUS number. Therefore, we are returning your sample, exhibits, etc., and asking that you submit a response to the following:
As you indicate, Headquarters’ Ruling Letter 556139, dated November 21, 1991, applied 9817.00.96 to the Audiolink imported by the National Captioning Institute, but Headquarters’ Ruling Letter 558684, dated December 14, 1994, did not apply it to the TV Listener imported by UNISAR.
1 - Do any of your items have a jack for connecting the user’s own hearing aid? If so, how does it work?
2 - How would your sample TV EARS be used in “movie theaters or auditoriums,” in particular the transmitter? Please provide a specific example of this use.
3 - Per the current Hearing Planet website:
“WHAT IS TV EARS? TV EARS is a totally unique hearing system that provides crystal clear sound on any TV in the world!TV EARS TechnologyTV EARS' Total Hearing System is a state-of-the-art wireless system that allows everyone to enjoy watching and hearing television - without disturbingly high sound! TV EARS' advanced features allow for a more natural listening experience for those with or without hearing loss. TV EARS' total hearing system is clearly the choice for serious listening!”
Do you agree with the above statements?
4 - Please include a statement that there are, to your knowledge, no issues on the commodity pending before Customs or any court. Also include a statement as to whether classification advice has been sought from a Customs officer; and if so, from whom, and what advice was rendered, if any.
If you decide to resubmit your request, refer to our file number N011243 and include all of the material that we have returned to you. You can mail your request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Customs Information Exchange, 10th Floor, One Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10119, attn: Binding Rulings Section.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the classification in 9817.00.96 of this item, contact National Import Specialist J. Sheridan at 646-733-3012. If you have any other questions regarding this ruling, contact National Import Specialist Linda M. Hackett at 646-733-3015.
Robert B. Swierupski