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HQ 082831

February 26, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082831 SLR


TARIFF NO.: 3923.21.00

Irving W. Smith, Jr.
George R. Tuttle, P.C.
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Suite 1200F
Washington, D.C. 20004

RE: Plastic Shopping Bags

Dear Mr. Smith:

This ruling is in response to your letter of October 1, 1987, on behalf of your client, St. Clair Pakwell, requesting the classification of various shopping bags under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were provided for our examination.


The shopping bags in issue come in various styles and sizes. The three submitted samples are described as follows: the first bag measures approximately 11 inches by 15-1/2 inches by 5-1/2 inches; the second bag measures 16 inches by 12-3/4 inches by 5-1/4 inches; and the third measures 15 inches by 12 inches. All are made of polyethylene and sport some form of handle.


What is the proper classification of polyethylene shopping bags under the HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section or chapter notes. Here, two headings seem to describe the merchandise in issue: 4202, traveling bags, toiletry bags... handbags, shopping bags and similar containers; and 3923, articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastic.

Heading 4202 covers, among other items, shopping bags. Note 2(a) to Chapter 42, however, specifies that heading 4202 does not cover "[b]ags made of plastic sheeting, whether or not printed, with handles, not designed for prolonged use (heading 3923)." The bags under consideration are not substantially constructed. They are made of a single thickness of plastic film and, most likely, will not be reused.

The above chapter note directs us to heading 3923. The Explanatory Notes, which constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, state in EN 39.23 that "heading 3923 covers all articles of plastic commonly used for the packing or conveyance of all kinds of products." The articles covered include: "[c]ontainers such as boxes, cases, crates, [and] sacks and bags...." (Emphasis added).

As decided in HRL 081876 dated November 22, 1988, there is no requirement under the HTSUSA that the products conveyed or packed within the containers still be in the stream of commerce.


The plastic shopping bags are classifiable under subheading 3923.21.00, HTSUSA, as articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics, sacks and bags, of polymers of ethylene, dutiable at 3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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