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  • Rajesh Audithyan

How to classify Apple HomePod under Customs Tariff Heading (CTH) for imports ?

Considering the attributes of the device in question, which is capable of receiving voice commands, covert such voice commands into text to perform multiple tasks, e.g., stream music from the internet or another Apple device, retrieve information available in the net like weather, traffic, news, sports updates etc., regenerate such information back to the user in the form of music/speech, and also act as a home automation device to control reconditioners, locks, lights etc., it is clear that the product in question has multiple facets, and therefore, its classification would depend upon identifying the essential character of the device. The product consists of an Apple designed A8 chip, a six-microphone array, a seven-tweeter array, and a high excursion woofer enclosed in a seamless mesh fabric.

The device works wirelessly through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and it can play music directly from the internet or from another Apple device through AirPlay 2. Through its digital assistant, Siri, a user can give voice commands not only for obtaining the preferred music, but also information like, weather, news etc. Therefore, unlike a mere speaker, which only reproduces sound, the HomePod is a convergence device which is capable of receiving voice commands and processing such commands internally to receive the desired end result, be it music or information, and regenerate such music or information back to the user via the speakers.

The primary mode of interacting with the device is voice commands, though it is possible to play, pause and raise volume by tapping the top of the device. The home automation functions of the device to control a wide range of accessories is carried out via a hardware certification platform and a database system that makes possible integrate, configure, and communicate between a wide variety of products. The control of such devices is also done through “Siri” via voice commands. Considering the various functions that the device is capable of and taking into account the existing tariff classification system, the considered opinion is that the product in question answers to the description of six-digit entry 851762 which is meant for ‘Machines for reception, conversion and transmission or regeneration of voice, images, other data, including switching and routing apparatus’ and more specifically under the residuary sub-heading 85176290.

In view aforesaid reasons it is ruled that Apple HomePods merit classification under sub-heading 85176290 of the first schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975.


CUSTOMS AUTHORITY OF ADVANCE RULINGS, (MUMBAI) IN RE : M/S. APPLE INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED Ruling CAAR/Mum/ARC/14/2021 In Application No. CAAR/Mum/ARC/14/2021 Ruling dated June 10, 2021

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