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HQ 085559

April 13, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G: 085559 DPS


TARIFF NO.: 3923.90.0000, 4202.92.4500, 4819.30.0040

Mr. Mark McLaughlin
The Pack America Corp.
630 Fifth Avenue
Suite 2260
New York, N.Y. 10111

RE: Shopping Bags and Garment Bag

Dear Mr. McLaughlin:

Mr. Elison's letter of August 18, 1989, on behalf of Pack America Corp., to our New York office has been referred to this office for reply concerning the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of 4 styles of shopping bags, and an EVA plastic garment bag. This letter is being directed to you pursuant to a telephone conversation in which you informed a member of my staff that Mr. Elison is no longer with your company, and that you have assumed his responsibilities. Samples of the subject merchandise were submitted with the ruling request.


The merchandise requiring classification consists of five items, four of which are shopping bags made primarily of paper, and are described as follows:

(1) A paper shopping bag with a base width of approximately 40 cm., made of laminated kraft paper. The composition of the laminated paper is 15% OPP laminate and 85% paper.
The bag has handles which are made of cellophane.

(2) A shopping bag with a base width of approximately 34 cm., made exclusively of paper with twisted paper handles . The merchant's name is printed on the bag.

(3) A paper shopping bag with polypropylene handles and a base width of approximately 42 cm., and the merchant's name printed on the side of the bag

(4) A paper shopping bag laminated with an OPP film. The laminated paper is 5% laminate film and 95% paper. The handles are made of acrylic cord with a paper core. This bag has a base width of 42 cm. and the merchant's name is printed on the side of the bag.

The fifth article is a garment bag, intended for use by retailers who package suits in it to present to the customer. The importer states that it is not for resale, nor for use as luggage. It is made of EVA plastic. Tests performed on the submitted sample by the Customs laboratory indicate that the garment bag has an ASTM thickness of 4.10 mils. The zipper fabric of the article is polyester.


(1) Whether the paper and laminated paper shopping bags are classifiable as other sacks and bags of paper under Heading 4819, HTSUSA, or as other articles of paper under Heading 4823, HTSUSA.

(2) Whether the plastic garment bag is classifiable as an article for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics, other, under subheading 3923.90.0000, HTSUSA, or as a travel bag with outer surface of plastic sheeting, under subheading 4202.92.4500, HTSUSA.


The General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System (GRI's) govern classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. According to GRI 1, the primary consideration in determining whether merchandise should be classified in a heading should be given to the language of the heading and any relevant chapter or section notes, and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRI's, taken in order. With regard to the shopping bags, the two headings at issue are 4819 and 4823, which provide as follows:

(a) 4819, HTSUSA, Cartons, boxes, cases, bags and other packing containers, of paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibers; box files, letter trays and similar articles, of paper or paperboard of a kind used in offices, shops or the like:...

(b) 4823, HTSUSA, Other paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding and webs of cellulose fibers, cut to size or shape; other articles of paper pulp, paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibers:...

An examination of the headings set forth above indicates that bags made of paper that are used as "packing containers" in "offices, shops or the like," are classifiable in 4819. The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The Explanatory Notes to Heading 4819, HTSUSA, state, in pertinent part that this heading:

[C]overs various kinds and sizes generally used for the packing, transport, storage or sale of merchandise, whether or not also having a decorative value. The heading includes cartons, boxes, cases, bags, cones, packets, sacks, paperboard drums (containers)...

The articles of this group may be printed, e.g., with the name of the merchant, directions for use, illustrations....

In applying the HTSUSA Heading and Explanatory Note language to the subject bags, they appear to fall squarely with Heading 4819. The bags are given by merchants to customers for the packing of purchased merchandise. Three of the four samples have the merchant's name printed on the side of the bag. The bags are of ample size to hold merchandise and with their reinforced handles, are constructed to facilitate carrying. As such, they are classifiable as paper bags or sacks within Heading 4819.

The Explanatory Notes to Heading 4823, HTSUSA, state that the heading includes "paper and paperboard not covered by any of the previous headings of this Chapter:...." In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 084847, dated October 6, 1989, similar coated paper bags were classified under Heading 4823. However, the bags classified in HRL 084847 are distinguishable from the subject merchandise. They were "Batman Bags," sold as merchandise, and used as a form of wrapping paper, not used for the packing, transport or sale of merchandise contemplated by Heading 4819. Accordingly, we distinguish the shopping bags at issue here, which are classifiable under Heading 4819, from the decorative "Batman" bags classified under Heading 4823 in HRL 084847.

Plastic Garment Bag

In HRL 083612, dated May 15, 1989, guidelines for the classification of plastic garment bags, similar to the article at issue, were set forth. Briefly stated, garment bags that are constructed of 4 mil or thicker vinyl are considered to be "substantially constructed" so as to warrant classification as a form of luggage in Heading 4202, HTSUSA. Those garment bags which measure under 4 mil are classified under Heading 3923, HTSUSA, as articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics. These bags are not designed for repetitive use and are considered to be of flimsy construction. In determining the thickness of the garment bags, Customs uses the formula recommended by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). (See HRL 080214 dated September 16, 1987, and HRL 078780 dated March 5, 1987).

With regard to the subject garment bag, Customs laboratory tests indicate that the garment bag has a thickness of 4.1 mil. Applying the guidelines set forth in the above cited Headquarters rulings, we find that the instant merchandise is classifiable under subheading 4202.92.4500, HTSUSA, which provides for travel, sports and similar bags, with outer surface of plastic sheeting materials, other.


The subject paper shopping bags with a base width of 40 cm. or more are classifiable as sacks and bags, having a base width of 40 cm. or more, other, in subheading 4819.30.0040, HTSUSA. The shopping bag with the base width of under 40 cm. is classifiable under subheading 4819.40.0040, HTSUSA, the provision for other sacks and bags, including cones, other. Merchandise classified in either of these subheadings is subject to a duty rate of 5.3 percent ad valorem.

The plastic garment bag at issue, with a thickness of 4.1 mil, is classifiable as a travel bag with an outer surface of plastic sheeting materials, in subheading 4202.92.4500, HTSUSA. Items classified under this provision are subject to a duty rate of 20 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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