United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1993 HQ Rulings > HQ 0951877 - HQ 0951985 > HQ 0951929

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 951929

June 15, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 951929 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 8531.10.00

Mr. Peter Jay Baskin
Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt, P.C. 67 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004

RE: Personal Security Alarms; Burglar Alarms; Composite Goods; GRI 3(b)

Dear Mr. Baskin:

This is in response to your letter of May 14, 1992, concerning the classification of personal security alarms and burglar alarms under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise consists of personal security alarms and burglar alarms. The personal security alarm (prototype 49 series) is a kidney shaped, portable alarm which may be carried on one's person to scare off attackers, or in a woman's purse, to alert the owner when the purse is being stolen. The alarm measures approximately 3 1/2 inches by 2 1/4 inches by 3/4 inch, and operates on two "AAA" batteries. It is encased in a gray, plastic housing. At one end of the housing is a removable plastic key which is hooked to a looped textile cord. Pulling the key out of its slot in the main unit sounds the alarm continuously until the key is replaced. Located near the key is a round push button. Pressing the button will sound the alarm until the button is released. The button is provided as a means to test the alarm before using it. There is also a rectangular push button along the top of the alarm. Pressing that button illuminates a penlight-size bulb at the front of the unit until the button is released.

The burglar alarm (model no. 49-415) is a rectangular shaped, portable alarm, containing a siren and a warning light which is primarily used to detect and ward off intruders entering one's abode. The alarm measures approximately 5 1/8 inches by 2 inches by 1 1/4 inches. It is encased in a black, plastic housing and has a permanently attached, textile looped cord at one end with which it may be secured around a doorknob. At the other end of the alarm is a bulb which is covered by a an amber colored, plastic shield. The siren is powered by one 9-volt battery, and the bulb operates on two "AA" batteries.

On either side of the burglar alarm is a slide switch. The red switch is a two position on-off switch for testing the device to ensure, prior to use, that it works. The yellow switch is a three position switch. By sliding the switch into the first position, the user can test the bulb to make sure that it is operable. Sliding the switch into the second position puts the alarm in its ready mode for the detection and subsequent warning of intruders. A red, light emitting diode (LED), located next to the yellow switch, illuminates to confirm that the alarm has been set in its ready mode.

To use the burglar alarm for detecting intruders entering through a door, the alarm is hung from the inside doorknob of the entrance to be protected. The yellow switch is then shifted to the ready position, illuminating the LED. When the door opens, a motion detector inside the alarm will activate the siren and the light will flash.


What is the proper classification of the subject personal security alarms and the burglar alarms under the HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Both types of alarms contain two functions, a light function and an alarm function. Because the alarms are composite goods, GRI 3(b) must be consulted. GRI 3(b) states that:

[m]ixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

It is our position that the essential character of both types of alarms is provided by the alarm function. The function of the lights is a limited feature, and they only seem to add to the effectiveness of the alarms. The articles were primarily constructed to operate as alarms, and they are marketed to the public for that purpose.

Both types of alarms are classifiable under subheading 8531.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectric sound or visual signalling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels, burglar or fire alarms), other than those of heading 8512 or 8530; parts thereof: [b]urglar or fire alarms and similar apparatus."

It is our position that, based upon the actual operation of the personal security alarm, it is a "similar apparatus" to the subject burglar alarm.


The personal security alarm and the burglar alarm are classifiable under subheading 8531.10.00, HTSUS. The general, column one rate of duty is 2.7 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: