United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1990 HQ Rulings > HQ 0084220 - HQ 0084287 > HQ 0084241

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 084241

July 28, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084241 DFC


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.3300; 4202.92.9050

Ms. Debbie Rodriquez
Inter-Maritime Forwarding Co. Inc.
156 William Street
New York, NY 10038

RE: Tariff classification of evening bags

Dear Ms. Rodriquez:

Your letter dated March 31, 1989, addressed to our New York office concerning the tariff classification of evening bags with braided shoulder or hand straps, has been referred to this office for a direct reply to you. Samples made in the Philippines were submitted for examination.


The samples designated as styles 2679, 2380, 2678, and 2675 are made of man made fibers which have been partially covered with plastic beads. Styles 2380 and 2678 have a braided shoulder strap while style 2675 has a braided hand strap. Our New York office has issued a ruling to you with respect to the tariff classification of style 2679.


What material imparts the essential character to the evening bags?

Are styles 2678 and 2675 considered to be in part of braid for tariff purposes?


In applying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), the Customs Service must follow the terms of the statute. Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRI's taken in order]". In other words classification is governed first by the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.

GRI 2(b), HTSUSA, provides in part that "[t]he classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3."

We note that evening bags having an outer surface of textile materials are classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUSA, while evening bags of beads are classifiable under heading 3926, HTSUSA. When goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings or subheadings in the HTSUSA, classification must be determined based on the sequential application of the principles set out in GRI 3, HTSUSA, which reads in pertinent part as follows:

3. When, by application of Rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

Inasmuch as the outer surfaces of the evening bags consist of textile material and plastic beads, it is necessary to determine that material which imparts the essential character to the outer surface pursuant to GRI 3(b), HTSUSA, supra.

The Explanatory Notes for GRI 3(b), HTSUSA, state in pertinent part as follows:

VIII The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

With respect to style 2380, we note that its outer surface is predominantly plastic beads. As to styles 2675 and 2678, it appears that textile material predominates in the amount of outer surface covered. Although a determination of essential character of the evening bags cannot be based solely on a physical measurement of the component materials of the outer surface, it is our observation that such a measurement is of paramount importance in determining whether the outer surface is "textile" or "plastic" for these evening bags.

It is our view that the essential character of style 2380 is imparted by the plastic beads. Our rationale for this position is that the beads occupy the predominant portion of the outer surface of the bag and are also the material which is most clearly designed to appeal to the consumer.

In view of the foregoing, it is our position that style 2380 is classifiable under subheading 3926.90.3300, HTSUSA, as beads, bugles and spangles, not strung (except temporarily) and not set, articles thereof, not elsewhere specified or included, handbags.

It is our view that the essential character of styles 2675 and 2678 is imparted by textile material. Our rationale for this position is that textile material occupies more of the outer surfaces of these evening bags than the plastic beads. The textile material is at least as important as the beads in its appeal to the consumer. Also, the textile material predominates by weight and bulk over the plastic beads and appears to be more valuable than the plastic beads.

Subheading 4202.22.40, HTSUSA, provides for handbags of textile materials, wholly or in part of braid. General Note 7(e)(ii), HTSUSA, defines "in part of" as goods that contain a significant quantity of the named material. This note also states that with regard to the application of the quantitative concepts specified, it is intended that the de minimis rule apply. The de minimis rule as applied under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), emphasized the necessity of determining whether the amount of braid used has really changed or affected the nature of the article. Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 073592 dated June 12, 1984. If an article contains a significant quantity of braid, and if that portion or quantity of braid served a useful purpose or affected the nature of the article or increased the salability of the item, it would be considered in part of braid. HRL 085617 dated March 4, 1988.

HRL 083632 dated April 27, 1989, dealt with evening bags that had a braided shoulder strap as well as braided overlay trim. This ruling stated that there was not a significant quantity of braided material on the evening bags so as to change or affect the nature of the article. It was determined that the braid did not increase the utility or the potential salability of the handbags.

The braid on the instant handbags does not increase the utility or the salability of the handbags. The braided shoulder strap and hand strap would serve the same function whether or not braided.

In view of the foregoing, it is our opinion that styles 2675 and 2678 are not wholly or in part of braid. Consequently, they are classifiable under subheading 4202.22.8050, HTSUSA, as handbags, of textile materials, whether or not with shoulder strap, with outer surface of textile materials, other, other, other, of man-made fibers.


The evening bag designated as style 2380 is classifiable under subheading 3926.90.3300, HTSUSA, and dutiable at the rate of 8.2 percent ad valorem or entitled to free entry under the Generalized System of Preferences, if otherwise qualified.

The handbags designated as styles 2675 and 2678 are classifiable under subheading 4202.92.9050, HTSUSA, and dutiable at the rate of 20 percent ad valorem. The applicable textile category code is 670.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: