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HQ 955054

January 26, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955054 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 8543.80.90

Mr. Dale G. Vander Yacht
Border Brokerage Company
P.O. Box 3549
Blaine, Washington 98231

RE: Stone Electronics, Ltd.; Divelink Underwater Communicator; Ultrasonic Upper Side Band Frequency; Voice Actuated; Electrical Machines and Apparatus, N.S.P.F.; HQ 088599

Dear Mr. Vander Yacht:

This is in reply to your letter of August 26, 1993, on behalf of Stone Electronics, Ltd., requesting classification of the "Divelink Underwater Communicator," under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The "Divelink Underwater Communicator" ("Divelink") is a voice actuated ultrasonic transmission/reception device designed for underwater communication between scuba divers. The Divelink consists of a communicator headpiece, facemask strap, mouthpiece with microphone and a rechargeable battery pack.

To communicate, the scuba diver speaks into the mouthpiece (which contains a microphone). The voice signal is converted to ultrasonic waves and transmitted via the headpiece. The ultrasonic waves emanate in 360 degrees from the transmitter using the water as the transmission carrier medium. The Ultrasonic waves are similarly received by another diver's headpiece and converted to audible signals. The Divelink does not operate by electromagnetic (radio) waves.


What is the classification of the Divelink under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)?


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...

Radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radiobroadcasting and television, are all specific forms of electromagnetic radiation. "The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, 6th Edition (1987), page 154, defines "Electromagnetic radiation" as follows:

Energy transmitted through space or through a material medium in the form of electromagnetic waves. The term can also refer to the emission and propagation of such energy. Whenever an electric charge oscillates or is accelerated, a disturbance characterized by the existence of electric and magnetic fields propagates outward from it. This disturbance is called an electromagnetic wave. The frequency range of such waves is tremendous, as is shown by the electromagnetic spectrum in the table. (Emphasis added).

McGraw-Hill also tells us that the electromagnetic waves emitted from a source are oscillatory in character and are described in terms of their frequency of oscillation. Local telephone lines (not using carrier systems) carry electromagnetic waves with frequencies of about 200-4000 Hz. Medium-wave radio uses frequencies of the order of 10(6th power) Hz, whereas television utilizes frequencies of the order of 10(8th power) Hz.

Webster's New World Dictionary Third College Edition (1988), defines "Ultrasonic" as follows: "designating or of a frequency of mechanical vibrations above the range audible to the human ear, i.e., above 20,000 vibrations per second." However, these inaudible vibrations are not an electrical charge. Therefore, ultrasonic vibrations are not electromagnetic or radio waves. See also HQ 088599, dated May 2, 1991, in which "infrared" electromagnetic waves were distinguished from "radio" electromagnetic waves.

The Divelink consists of four components which are interconnected to provide the function of ultrasonic transmission and reception. Section XVI, Legal Note 4 states as follows:

Where a machine (including a combination of machines) consists of individual components (whether separate or interconnected by piping, by transmission devices, by electric cables or by other devices) intended to contribute together to a clearly defined function covered by one of the headings in chapter 84
or chapter 85, then the whole falls to be classified in the heading appropriate to that function.

There is no specific heading in chapter 84 or chapter 85 that describes the function that the Divelink performs. Therefore, since there is no more specific subheading for under water ultrasonic transceiver systems, the instant merchandise is classifiable in subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter: [o]ther machines and apparatus: [o]ther."


The "Divelink Underwater Communicator" is classifiable in subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter: [o]ther machines and apparatus: [o]ther." The rate of duty is 3.9% ad valorem.

The instant merchandise may be eligible for the North American Free Trade Agreement, if the provisions thereof are met.


John Durant, Director

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