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HQ 089996

October 23, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 089996 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 8543.80.90

Richard M. Wortman, Esq.
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman 12 East 49th Street
New York, New York 10017

RE: Electronic Module; sound; light; GRI 1; 9503.90.60; EN Chapter 95; EN 95.03; part; Gallagher & Ascher Company; 8531.80.00; EN 85.31; 8519.99.00; EN 85.19; 088044; 086838; EN 85.43; EN 84.79; marking exception; 19 CFR 134.34; 9802.00.80

Dear Mr. Wortman:

This is in response to your letter dated June 18, 1991, to Customs in New York, on behalf of Modern Publishing, regarding the tariff classification of an electronic module under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). You also ask for a marking exception for the electronic module. Your letter and samples were forwarded to this office for a response. As requested, your samples will be returned under separate cover.


The electronic module produces various sound effects as well as a light which illuminates the selected sound on the face of the module. The electronic module is comprised of a pre- programmed integrated circuit, a printed circuit board assembly which has eight contact points, a movable electrical switch assembly with a lamp, a battery case, and electrical wiring. All of these components are contained in a rectangular shaped plastic housing. A strip of material depicting eight different drawings, such as a sheep, pig, bird, rain, cloud, dog, cat, wind cloud, and a cow is attached on the surface of the plastic housing unit. The electronic module functions by moving the switch below one of these pictured drawings whereby a sound is emitted to simulate the chosen object and a light is activated.

After importation into the U.S., the electronic module will be permanently affixed to a book. The electronic module and book are known as the "Sound- and Light-enriched Electronic Board Book." Written pictorial instructions on the pages of the book direct the reader through the story. The book will be printed in the U.S. and the electronic module will be produced in China. The back of the finished electronic board book will state "Book Printed in the U.S.A. Electronics Module Assembled in China."


I. What is the proper tariff classification of the electronic module under the HTSUSA?

II. Is a marking exemption available for the electronic module in Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134)?


I. Classification of the electronic module

The classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUSA, states in part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes..." The competing headings in this case are headings 8519, 8531, 8543 and 9503, HTSUSA. The headings describe:

8519 Turntables, record players, cassette players and other sound reproducing apparatus, not incorporating a sound recording device...

8519.99.00 Other sound reproducing apparatus...Other

8531 Electronic sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels, burglar or fire alarms), other than those of heading 8512 or 8530; parts thereof...

8531.80.00 Other apparatus

8543 Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof...

8543.80.90 Other machines and apparatus...Other

9503 Other toys; reduced-size ("scale") models and similar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds; parts and accessories thereof...

9503.90.60 Other...Other...Other toys (except models), not having a spring mechanism

The electronic module can arguably be classifiable as a toy within heading 9503, HTSUSA, which describes other toys, models and puzzles of all kinds. The Explanatory Note (EN) to Chapter 95 of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS), states that Chapter 95, HTSUSA, covers toys of all kinds whether designed for the amusement of children or adults. HCDCS, Vol. 4, p. 1585. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be looked to for proper interpretation of the HTSUSA. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). We are of the opinion that the electronic module is not a toy but is a part of the "Sound- and Light-enriched Electronic Board Book."

In determining whether an item is a part of an article, one must look to the "nature, function, and purpose of an item in relation to the article to which it is attached or designed to serve...." Gallagher & Ascher Co., Inc. v. United States, 52 CCPA 11, 13, C.A.D. 849 (1964). An item may be a part of an article even though the item is not necessary to the operation of the article, provided that once the item is installed the article cannot function properly without it. To meet this test, the item must be dedicated for use upon the article. The court in Gallagher found that auxiliary heaters dedicated for use in Volkswagen automobiles were parts of automobiles. In Gallagher, the court found the relevant considerations to be as follows:

[W]hether a given article constitutes a part of another article depends upon the nature of the so-called part and, we might add, to some degree on the function and purpose of the so-called part in its relation to the article to which it attaches or with which it is designed to serve.

The decided cases do not clearly establish any set rule or principle for determination of what constitutes parts of automobiles. The particular merchandise itself must be considered in order to make a determination as to whether the imported merchandise falls within the purview of the parts provision herein involved....

An examination of these factors reveals that the electronic module is an integral part of the "Sound- and Light-enriched Electronic Board Book." The electronic module is not necessary for the book to function as a child can read the book without the attached electronic module. However, the book is specifically designed to be used with the electronic module. The front cover of the book is printed with the words "Press & Light Sounds Mother Goose Rhymes" which indicates that the book is to be read with the aid of the attached electronic module which produces light and sounds to accompany the reading. The book and the electronic module can function individually and apart from one another but, as designed, they do not function properly until they are permanently joined together. The electronic module is dedicated to use with the "Press & Light Sounds" book. It is not designed, marketed or sold to customers as a toy for the amusement of children, but rather functions as an integral part of the electronic board book. Accordingly, it is not classifiable in heading 9503, HTSUSA.

Heading 8531, HTSUSA, provides for electronic sound or visual signal apparatus. EN 85.31 states that this heading covers all electrical apparatus used for signalling purposes, whether using sound for the transmission of the signal (bells, buzzers, hooters, etc.), or using visual indication (lamps, flaps, illuminated numbers, etc.) and whether operated by hand or automatically. This heading includes such items as electric bells, buzzers, door chimes, horns, indicator panels used to call personnel (room indicators, office indicators, elevators indicators), fire alarms, and burglar alarms. HCDCS, Vol. 4, p. 1381, 1382. The electronic module does not satisfy the terms of this heading as it does not belong to the class of any of the previous named articles in EN 85.31. Accordingly, the electronic module is not properly classifiable within this tariff provision.

Subheading 8519.99.00, HTSUSA, provides for "...other sound reproducing apparatus, not incorporating a sound recording device...Other sound reproducing apparatus...Other." EN 85.19 states that heading 8519, HTSUSA, covers all sound reproducing apparatus, whatever the purpose for which it is intended (for example, educational purposes, conferences, radio broadcasting, cinema, dictating mail). HCDCS, Vol. 4, p. 1366.

We have previously held that reading trays which are designed to function with books, as talking children's books, are classified under subheading 8519.99.00, HTSUSA. See, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 088044 dated April 4, 1991 and HRL 086838 dated July 3, 1990. These reading trays contain a microprocessor with a human voice simulator which also produces sound effects. The reading trays decipher the information found in a cartridge or in a circuit built into the book and synthesize the digital speech signal into an audio signal which the reader then can hear.

The electronic module is distinguishable from the above- reference reading trays. The reading trays contain a read only memory cartridge ("ROM"). The reading trays decipher the information and produce an audio signal. However, the user of the reading trays is able to control the reading tray by selecting buttons on the tray such as proceed to next page, story line, sounds, and repeat. The electronic module in question uses fixed integrated circuits which are designed to perform the same function over and over that of reproducing the sound of the object chosen by the reader. The electronic module does not satisfy the terms of this heading.

The electronic module is classified in subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUSA, as "Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter...." EN 85.43 states that heading 85.43 includes "Electronic musical modules for incorporation in a wide variety of utilitarian or other goods, e.g., wrist watches, cups and greeting cards. These modules usually consist of an electronic integrated circuit, a resistor, a loudspeaker and a mercury cell. They contain fixed musical programmes." HCDCS, EN 85.43, Vol. 4, p. 1403.

II. Marking

Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

You requested an exception from marking the individual electronic modules as the completed electronic board books will state "Book Printed in the U.S.A. Electronics Module Assembled in China." Since the electronic modules will be repackaged with books to form electronic board books after importation into the U.S., they are subject to the requirements of section 134.34, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.34), which provides that an exception from marking may be authorized in the discretion of the district director under 19 CFR 134.32(d) for imported articles which are to repacked after release from Customs custody under the following conditions: (1) The containers in which the articles are repacked will indicate the origin of the article to an ultimate purchaser in the U.S.; (2) The importer arranges for supervision of the marking of the containers. Therefore, approval for marking the electronic board book instead of the individual electronic module must be obtained from the district director at the port of entry.

The submitted marking on the back of the completed electronic board book which states "Book Printed in the U.S.A. Electronics Module Assembled in China" is only acceptable if the electronic module is eligible for entry under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUSA. Otherwise, the completed electronic board book should be marked "Book Printed in the U.S.A. Electronics Module Made in China."


The electronic module is properly classified under subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUSA, as "Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter...."

Pursuant to 19 CFR 134.34, approval for marking the electronic board book instead of the individual electronic module must be obtained from the district director at the port of entry.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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