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HQ 082565

February 13, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082565 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 6307.90.9050

Mr. Jim Shaw
Customs Manager
Associated Merchandising Corporation
50 Terminal Road
Secaucus, New Jersey 07094

RE: Hat boxes; Paperboard boxes

Dear Mr. Shaw,

This letter is in response to your inquiry dated May 17, 1988, requesting tariff classification of textile covered hat boxes. The letter, a sample of the goods, and a photograph of additional product styles have been forwarded to us from our New York office for a classification ruling.


The sample submitted with your request is circular in shape, approximately 10 inches in diameter and 6 inches in height. It has 2 parts, a lower portion and a lid, both of which are constructed of cardboard lined with rice paper. The cardboard/rice paper pieces are covered with textile materials by the use of an adhesive, formed into the shape of the box, and then secured at the seams by glue. Some of the items depicted in the photograph have a cord or tassels of an unidentified material attached.


What is the proper classification for these goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated ("HTSUSA") is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation ("GRI's") 1 through 5. The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1; that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. Then, if GRI 1 fails to classify the goods, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

In examining the nomenclature, we find no heading which specifically classifies "hat boxes", either by its terms or by any relevant Legal Notes, at either the Section or Chapter level. We note, however, the Explanatory Notes to Chapter 42, HTSUSA, which indicate that "hat boxes" are included in the term "similar containers" as that term is used in heading 4202, HTSUSA. Therefore, Chapter 42, HTSUSA may be eligible for classification of these goods.

Included with your letter was a breakdown by value of the hat box component materials. It indicates that from 47% to 51% of the box value is paper or paperboard, and that 13% to 34% is textile material or trim and cord presumably composed of textiles. Two additional headings, then, suggest themselves for classification purposes: heading 4823, HTSUSA, other articles of paper or paperboard, and heading 6307, HTSUSA, other made up articles of textiles.

Chapter Note 1(g) to Chapter 48 and Section Note 1(l) to Section XI (including Chapter 63), HTSUSA, include specific exclusions for goods of heading 4202, HTSUSA. Therefore, if the sample goods are determined to be "similar containers", as that term is used in heading 4202, HTSUSA, they will be excluded from classification in either heading 4823 or 6307, HTSUSA. The relevant portion of heading 4202, HTSUSA, includes:

Trunks, suitcases, vanity-cases, executive cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle case, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instruments cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; . . .

That part of the Explanatory Notes relating to "similar containers" states:

. . . The expression "similar containers" in the first part of the heading may be of any material. The expression "similar containers" in the first part includes hat boxes, camera accessory cases, cartridge pouches, sheaths for hunting or camping knives, etc.

(Emphasis added). Our examination of the sample goods, the terms of the heading, and the Explanatory Note have led us to the determination that the items classified within heading 4202, HTSUSA, are of the variety used in travel and the transportation of other items. In contrast, the sample merchandise is more suited to the storage of hats in the home, since it lacks the strength and features, such as locks or clasps, ordinarily found on the enumerated items of heading 4202, HTSUSA. As a result, we are of the opinion that the hat boxes in this case are not classifiable within the anticipated scope of heading 4202, HTSUSA.

Since the goods have been excluded from consideration under heading 4202, HTSUSA, they may be classified within heading 4823 or 6307, HTSUSA. Neither heading includes hat boxes in its terms, or in any relevant Legal Notes. The hat boxes cannot, then, be classified by GRI 1. The remaining GRI's, taken in order, are used to classify these goods.

Under GRI 2, any reference to a material or an article made of a material includes goods made wholly or in part of that material. GRI's 3(a) & (b) hold that goods such as these which are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings are classified by determining which of the component materials provides the goods with their essential character. The Explanatory Notes to GRI 3(b) indicate that there are no hard and fast rules for determining essential character. Each case involves an individual evaluation of such factors as weight, value, bulk, marketability, etc. In this case, the hat boxes are composite goods which should be classifiable as a product of either textile or paper, depending upon which material gives the product its essential character.

In the instant case, however, we are of the opinion that the classification of the hat box cannot be determined by essential character. None of the factors, either as a group or individually, provide sufficient support for essential character of paperboard or of textiles. Although paperboard is apparently predominant by weight, by bulk, and by value, it is the textile which distinguishes this hat box from ordinary cardboard boxes. The textile greatly enhances the marketability of the item, but also relies upon the cardboard frame for support and rigidity.

Failing classification by GRI 3(b), GRI 3(c) states that, among eligible headings, classification shall occur under that which is last in numerical order among those under consideration. In this case, that subheading would be 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA, as other made up articles of textile materials.


The sample hat box is classified as a made up textile article of subheading 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA, and as such is dutiable at a tariff rate of 7% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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