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HQ 084844

October 10, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084844


TARIFF NO.: 4202.21.6000

Ms. Eileen T. Romito
Department 733X
Sears Tower, BSC 19-45
Chicago, Il 60684

RE: Handbags

Dear Ms. Romito:

In a letter dated June 12, 1989, you inquired as to the tariff classification and the marking requirements applicable to ladies' split leather handbags manufactured in China. Samples were submitted for examination.


The samples designated as style Nos. 3327, 3331 and 3336 are made of split leather coated with polyurethane plastic. A laboratory analysis of the nontransparent polyurethane coating reveals that it measures 0.04 mm in thickness.


What material constitutes the outer surfaces of the handbags?


In applying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (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.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 082803 dated December 26, 1988, the term "outer surface" was defined as that surface which is both visible and tactile. However, since that ruling concerned plastic coated textiles, it is not controlling here.

As stated in HRL 081839 dated July 6, 1988, "[t]he definition of patent leather sets guidelines as to whether coated leather is plastic or leather." Acknowledging the fact that that ruling involved a determination as to the "exterior surface" of a plastic coated leather upper under Chapter 64, it is, nonetheless, our position that the same test should be applied to plastic coated leather handbags.

Explanatory Note 41.09 (1) defines patent leather as leather coated with a non-transparent, lustrous, mirror-like coating. Under this definition, patent leather is considered to be of leather if the plastic coating does not exceed 0.15 mm [6/100 inch] thick, and as plastic if over that thickness.

In this instance the plastic coating is less than 0.15 mm in thickness. Thus, the outer surfaces of the handbags are considered leather for tariff purposes.


The handbags are classifiable under subheading 4202.21.6000, HTSUSA, as handbags, whether or not with shoulder straps, including those without handle, with outer surface of leather, or composition leather or of patent leather, other, valued not over $20 each. The applicable rate of duty for this provision is 10 percent ad valorem.

The proper marking of these samples will be the subject of a separate letter to you.


John Durant, Director

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