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HQ 952398

December 30, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 952398 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 9817.00.94

Area Director
U.S. Customs
Room 137
110 S. Fourth St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

RE: Reconsideration of HQ 088629; Talking Book Cassette Player; Telex TBC

Dear Sir:

This is in reply to your memorandum of August 11, 1992, requesting reconsideration of HQ 088629, dated May 22, 1991, regarding the classification of the "Telex TBC" talking book cassette player, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise at issue is the operational mechanism for a cassette player known as the "Telex TBC" Talking Book Cassette Player. The operational mechanism is designed by Telex Communications of Minnesota and is produced in Japan. The operational mechanism has a rechargeable Ni-Cad battery built-in, 2 speed operation, and a 4 track operation, which allows the unit to play talking book 4 track cassette tapes or standard 2 track cassette tapes. Telex installs the operational mechanism into an outer plastic shell in the United States.

This cassette player mechanism manifests special features not found in most commercial general purpose cassette recorder/players. The keys are color coded, over-sized, and are molded with raised surfaces so that they may be identified solely by touch. The cassette tape player also has a variable speed control, tone control, and volume control.

The final completed good is sold exclusively to the Library of Congress and is not available for retail/commercial sale. The
sample housing states, in raised lettering, "FOR BLIND OR HANDICAPPED PERSONS/POUR AVEUGLES OU HANDICAPES."


Is the "Telex TBC" talking book cassette player classifiable under subheading 9817.00.94, HTSUS, which provides for: "[a]rticles specifically designed or adapted for the use or benefit of the blind or mentally handicapped persons: [a]rticles for the blind: [b]raille tablets, cubarithms, and special apparatus, machines, presses, and types for their use or benefit exclusively," or under subheading 8519.91.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[t]urntables, record players, cassette players and other sound reproducing apparatus, not incorporating a sound recording device: [o]ther sound reproducing apparatus: [c]assette type"?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

It has been argued that we did not have enough information when we issued HQ 088629, and that the instant importation should be classifiable as a "part." As such, it can not be classifiable in subheading 9817.00.96, HTSUS.

We now have: 1) a sample of the merchandise as imported; 2) a sample of the merchandise after completion, and; 3) a promotional brochure. We appreciate the additional information you have submitted. However, we remain of the view that the instant importation, missing the housing and some of the controls, still retains the essential character of the complete or finished article, as provided for under GRI 2(a). At importation, the mechanism performs all of the functions it is intended to perform. T.D. 92-77, regarding the "U.S. Customs Service Implementation of the Duty-Free Provisions of the Nairobi Protocol, Annex E, to the Florence Agreement," stated:

The Customs Service, however, has recognized several factors to be utilized on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a given article is "specially designed or adapted" within the meaning of this statute. In HRL 556449, a protest decision dated May 5, 1992, Customs ruled on whether a wide variety of articles were "specially designed or adapted" within the intent of the Nairobi Protocol.

A primary factor to be considered concerns the physical properties of the article itself, i.e., whether the article is
easily distinguishable, by unique design, from articles useful to non-handicapped individuals...

This article is easily distinguishable, at importation, from tape players for non-handicapped individuals. Moreover, upon reconsideration, we conclude that the instant merchandise is a "machine" specifically designed for the blind, and as such, is classifiable in subheading 9817.00.94, HTSUS, instead of subheading 9817.00.96, HTSUS, which provides for "other," as stated in HQ 088629.


The "Telex TBC" Talking Book Cassette Player for the blind is classifiable in subheading 9817.00.94, HTSUS, which provides for: "[a]rticles specifically designed or adapted for the use or benefit of the blind or mentally handicapped persons: [a]rticles for the blind." The rate of duty is Free.


HQ 088629, dated May 22, 1991, is modified under authority of Section 177.9(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(d)).


John Durant, Director

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