Frank J. Desiderio
Angela Santos
Grunfeld, Desidderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP
399 Park Avenue, 25th Floor
New York, NY 10022-4877

RE: The tariff classification of a sound amplifier from an unspecified country of origin

Dear Mr. Desiderio and Ms. Santos:

In your letter dated March 6, 2013, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of your client J.T. Posey Company.

The item concerned is a sound amplifier, referred to as Posey Hearing Enhancer-Each-Sound Amplifier (Style No. 8274). It consists of a battery operated amplifier, that incorporates a microphone, a volume control dial, a belt clip, an audio headphone jack and includes a pair of ear buds (headphones). The amplifier unit measures approximately 1 inch x 2 inches x ¾ of an inch.

This product is designed to amplify environmental sounds such as distant voices, radio, TV, etc. It can be carried in the users pocket or clipped to a belt.

You propose classification in HTSUS 9021.40.00, as Hearing aids and other appliances which are worn or carried, or implanted in the body, to compensate for a defect or disability. We do not agree. Harmonized System Explanatory Note (HS EN) IV, Hearing Aids, states, “This group is restricted to appliances for overcoming deafness…” A typical definition of deafness is the one cited at Per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Deafness is defined as “a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification.”

Since your item provides only the same amplification of all sound frequencies to both ears with no noise reduction, etc., it is clearly providing only simple amplification, which may be sufficient for those with very mild hearing loss (as opposed to the much more serious defects and disabilities given as examples in HS EN V to 9021) or those needing to hear relatively faint sounds, but is very different from the hearing aids for those with deafness as defined in the IDEA, which always take into account that high levels of hearing loss are virtually never the same in both ears for an individual and affect various frequencies differently. Also, this item has only ear bud earphones, which are easily taken in and out as desired. That is not the case for the hearing aids for deafness, but it is quite useful in hearing low volume sounds from time to time.

The applicable subheading for the Posey Hearing Enhancer-Each-Sound Amplifier (Style No. 8274) will be 8518.40.2000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for “Audio-frequency electric amplifiers: Other.” The general rate of duty will be 4.9%.

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 Steven Pollichino at (646) 733-3008.


Thomas J. Russo
National Commodity Specialist Division