Mr. Michael Skidmore
103 Greenleaf Street
Quincy, MA 02169
RE: The tariff classification of video magnifiers and a video magnification system, all with accessories, from Taiwan.
Dear Mr. Skidmore:
In your letter dated October 5, 2009, on behalf of Optelec US Inc., you requested a tariff classification ruling.
The subject merchandise, based on the submitted information, consists of the following:
A portable, battery-operated monitor, with a 4.3-inch TFT LCD screen and a built-in centralized camera, which is known as the Compact–Electronic Handheld Magnifier: This composite machine, which has a retractable handgrip, can function as a handheld magnifier with ten-fold magnification capability and auto-focusing and freeze-frame capabilities; it is stated to be imported with a battery pack, a power adapter, a neck cord, a fitted carrying case with belt clip, and a user’s manual.
A pocket-sized, battery-operated monitor, with a built-in centralized camera, which is known as the Compact Mini: This composite machine, with a 3.5-inch TFT LCD screen, has a collapsible reading stand, five viewing modes, and eleven-fold magnification capability; it is stated to be imported with a detachable wrist cord, a protection pouch, and a power cable with power adapter and four plugs, as well as a user’s manual.
A desktop video magnification system, known as the MultiView: This system, which is used to view printed-text images and objects up to 90 times in magnification, is composed of a 19-inch LCD monitor, a detachable camera unit, a control pad, an X-Y reading table, a power cord, a user’s manual, and an optional carrying case.
It is stated that this merchandise is designed and marketed to dyslexic people and to persons that are severely visually impaired.
In regard to the above composite machines with a monitor having a built-in camera, it is stated that these monitors do not incorporate video recording or reproducing apparatus; and that the cameras are not capable of recording images or video, but have the capabilities of capturing images in real time as well as freezing the images temporarily for better viewing. Moreover, this merchandise, which is put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking, is considered to be sets for tariff classification purposes, with the essential character being imparted by the composite machines.
Since the determination of a principal function of these composite machines, based on Legal Note 3 to Section XVI, cannot be found, it is then necessary to apply General Rule of Interpretation 3 (c). In such cases, the goods shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those (in this instance, heading 8525, HTSUS, for the camera and heading 8528, HTSUS, for the monitor) which equally merit consideration.
The applicable subheading for these composite machines, the Compact-Electronic Handheld Magnifier and the Compact Mini, will be 8528.59.2500, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for Monitors and projectors, not incorporating television reception apparatus; reception apparatus for television, whether or not incorporating radio-broadcast receivers or sound or video recording or reproducing apparatus: Other monitors: Other: Color: With a flat panel screen: Other: With a video display diagonal not exceeding 34.29 cm. The rate of duty will be Free.
In regard to the video magnification system, known as the MultiView, it is stated that the monitor does not incorporate video recording or reproducing apparatus; and that the camera is not capable of recording images or video, but has the capabilities of capturing images in real time as well as freezing images temporarily for better viewing. Moreover, this merchandise, which is put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking, is considered to be a set for tariff classification purposes, with the monitor and the camera being considered equally important in relation to the use of the system, thereby having no one component imparting the essential character. Based on General Interpretation Rule 3 (c), this system will then be classified in the heading (in this instance, heading 8528, HTSUS, for the monitor) that appears last in the tariff among the competing provisions.
The applicable subheading for the MultiView will 8528.59.30, HTSUS, which provides for Monitors and projectors, not incorporating television reception apparatus…Other monitors: Other: Color: With a flat panel screen: Other: Other. The rate of duty will be 5 percent ad valorem.
In your October 5, 2009 submission, unlike your August 12, 2009 submission, you propose a secondary classification for these items in HTSUS 9817.00.94, which covers articles specially designed or adapted for the use or benefit of the blind. To support your claim you cite New York Ruling Letter J87958 – 108, August 22, 2003, as you did in your request that led to NYRL N044079, mailed to you on November 21, 2008. As explained in that letter, based on Headquarters Ruling Letter H020515 – GOB, May 20, 2008, HTSUS 9817.00.96 was a more appropriate classification than HTSUS 9817.00.94 for the Optelec Farview because it was “suitable for use by certain individuals who have a severe visual impairment, but are not necessarily blind.” That principle also applies to these three items.
The first two items, like the Optelec Farview, are handheld devices which typically provide a high level of magnification for instructions on packages, airport departure monitors, etc. The MultiView desktop video magnification system is designed to assist visually impaired individuals in reading items, typically regular-size print in books or newspapers. All three are intended for individuals who would otherwise be unable to read these normally accessible products, even with the use of eyeglasses or other corrective lenses. In your submission you state that Optelec’s products are specifically designed and marketed to persons that are severely visually impaired, as well as the dyslexic.
Per its website, a substantial portion of Optelec’s business is related to Braille products for the blind, similar to the importer in H020515, substantiating that the channel of trade for these items will likely be those with a vision disability as opposed to those with normal or correctible vision who are performing tasks that require magnification.
US Note 4-b-ii to Subpart 17 of HTSUS Chapter 98 excludes from 9817.00.94-.96, “spectacles … for individuals not substantially disabled.”
These three items are substantially more inconvenient and expensive than ordinary spectacles. We find that there would likely be such a small market for these three items that they would not be produced if there were no “legally blind,” i.e., those whose poor vision is not correctable by spectacles. On that basis a secondary classification will apply in HTSUS 9817.00.96 as specially designed or adapted for the use or benefit of the permanently or chronically physically or mentally handicapped, except articles for the blind, if all applicable entry requirements are met, including the filing with the Customs port of entry of the U.S. Department of Commerce form ITA-362P. Some of the merchandise covered by this ruling is already duty free, but if you elect to claim the secondary classification in Chapter 98 of 9817.00.96 and meet the entry requirements, no merchandise processing fee will apply to those importations even though they are non-NAFTA, noting, e.g., Headquarters Ruling Letter 229110 - IDL, 8-29-02. This classification has no effect on any quota, visa, or restricted merchandise requirements.
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/.
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 ruling, contact National Import Specialist Lisa Cariello at (646) 733-3014.
Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division