Lars-Erik A. Hjelm
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP
NW Robert S. Strauss Building
1333 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

RE: The tariff classification of the Acne Mask Activator from China

Dear Mr. Hjelm:

In your letter dated March 27, 2018 you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of your client, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. A sample was provided and will be returned to you.

The merchandise under consideration is identified as the Light Therapy Acne Mask Activator (Activator) which serves as the controller and power source for the Light Therapy Mask. The Mask Activator consists of a plastic enclosure containing a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) and the requisite battery compartment which accommodates four AA batteries. The enclosed PCBA contains the control circuitry, a tactile dome switch, an LCD display, the battery terminals, and a power jack.

In use, the Activator is connected to the Light Therapy Mask through an electrical cord via the power jack. The user would depress the power button which applies power to the mask for a 10 minute treatment of light therapy. The LCD display shows the remaining therapy sessions remaining before a new Activator must be purchased.

In your request you suggest the Activator is accurately described as a programmable controller and classifiable in subheading 8537.10.9160, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). We disagree.

Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Although not dispositive, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level and facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and the GRIs.

The ENs to heading 85.37 state, in pertinent part: ‘“Programmable controllers’ which are digital apparatus using a programmable memory for the storage of instructions for implementing specific functions such as logic, sequencing, timing, counting and arithmetic, to control, through digital or analog input/output modules, various types of machines.” The Activator does not meet the terms noted in the ENs for 8537.10.9060, HTSUS, insofar as it does not incorporate programmable memory for the storage of instructions to control the Light Therapy Mask.

However, we do agree that the Activator does consist of a base and two or more apparatus of heading 8536 and its function is to electrically control the Light Therapy Mask. Thus, the Activator directly meets the requirements of heading 8537 and by application of GRI 1 is classifiable in latter subheadings.

The applicable subheading for the Light Therapy Acne Mask Activator will be 8537.10.9170, HTSUS, which provides for “Boards, panels, consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity…: For a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: Other: Other: Other.” The rate of duty will be 2.7 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

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 Karl Moosbrugger at


Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division