Gregory S. McCue
Steptoe & Johnson, LLP
1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1795

RE:      The tariff classification of RF signal generators/simulators from the United Kingdom

Dear Mr. McCue:

In your letter dated November 17, 2011, on behalf of Spirent Communications, Inc., you requested a tariff classification ruling.  No samples were provided.

Regarding the GSS4200, GSS6700, and GSS8000, you indicate that, regarding each, with varying levels of sophistication and adjustability these devices emit Radio Frequency (“RF”) signals in the L-band (1GHz to 2GHz) that are consistent with those that would be received from GPS and other, similar navigation satellites. These devices can be adjusted to emit GPS satellite signals that emulate those that would be observed at various positions on the earth, at various times of the day and under other various conditions. Software allows the user to instruct the device to generate signals having the same composition and modulation consistent with that which would be incident at a GPS receiver antenna from real satellites under the same conditions as those specified by the user. The user then observes the responses from its own antenna or other devices and uses other methods, equipment or software to analyze or measure the response and performance of its equipment. In this way, the user can test the ability and capacity of its GPS equipment, without the need to set up that equipment in the field under real world conditions.

Regarding the GSS5700, you indicate it emits 2.4GHz signals which “can be used to cause the WLAN receiver in the device being tested to generate a set of measurements which can be used to determine its location.” 

Regarding the GSS6400, it performs a similar function to the GSS4200, GSS6700, and GSS8000, except that, instead of generating its own RF signals, it records the emissions of navigation satellites at a specific location and time and then manipulates the signals as needed by the testing facility before emitting them to the navigational device under test.  In this way, information will be developed concerning the ability of the device to correctly calculate positions despite interferences, such as reflections, which will likely be encountered by the user. 

Regarding the GSS4200, GSS6700, and GSS8000 and GSS5700, you propose classification in 8543.20, HTSUS, the subheading entitled Signal Generator.  Although we agree that these items are advanced and specialized signal generators and only emit electrical signals, Customs and Border Protection does not classify there even less sophisticated signal generators, such as those cited in Harmonized System Explanatory Note 2 to 8543, if they are used in the testing of electrical devices.  Rather, as in, e.g., Headquarters Ruling Letter 961882, August 3, 1998, which revoked New York Ruling Letter C86285 – 112, April 30, 1998, they are classified in Heading 9030 as Instruments and Appliances for Measuring or Checking Electrical Quantities. 

Regarding the GSS6400, you propose classification in 8471.40.  We do not believe that applies since the equipment is used solely for testing purposes and thus excluded from Heading 8471 by Note 5E to Chapter 84, HTSUS.  In any case, we consider it to be a signal generator classified in Heading 9030 so it is excluded via its Note 1-m from Section 16, which includes Chapter 84.   Regarding the GSS4200, GSS6700, and GSS8000 and GSS5700, you propose as an alternative classification that, if classified in Heading 9030, they are classified in 9030.40, HTSUS, as Other instruments and apparatus, specially designed for telecommunications (for example, crosstalk meters, gain measuring instruments, distortion factor meters, psophometers).  However, they are used as a signal output to the device in determining its capabilities as a radio navigation aid, not a telecommunication device.   A GPS satellite does not communicate to the device the location of the device.  Rather, the device performs a very elaborate and precise comparison of the RF signals it receives from at least 3 satellites simultaneously to calculate its position.  As stated, e.g., in, “In essence, the GPS operates on the principle of trilateration.”  A similar principle applies to the WLAN location determination.

The applicable subheading for the GSS4200, GSS6700, GSS80005, and GSS5700 will be 9030.89.0100 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for "other" instruments or apparatus for measuring or checking electrical quantities, without a recording device. The rate of duty will be 1.7% ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for the GSS6400 will be 9030.84.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for "other" instruments or apparatus for measuring or checking electrical quantities, with a recording device. The rate of duty will be 1.7 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

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 J. Sheridan at (646) 733-3012.


Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division