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HQ 086320

April 18, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086320 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 4823.90.6500

Ms. Donna Albert
MAST Industries, Inc.
P.O. Box 2020
100 Old River Road
Andover, Massachusetts 01810

RE: Paperboard boxes; hat boxes; paper covered boxes

Dear Ms. Albert:

This letter is in response to your inquiry dated December 22, 1989, requesting tariff classification of paper covered paperboard hatboxes. Your letter and samples of the goods have been forwarded to us by our New York office for a classification ruling.


The goods at issue here are boxes, of Hong Kong origin, made of paper and paperboard. Although there is an indication your request included three separate items, we are in receipt of only two. This fact should not affect classification of the goods, given that the only distinction among them is size. The goods are circular in shape. The larger item measures approximately 15 inches in diameter and 7 inches in height. The smaller item measures 14 inches in diameter and 6 inches in height. The boxes may be "nested", or used together, the smaller box fitting neatly within the larger. However, both are covered with a floral printed paper, and may also be used separately. Both boxes have man-made fiber cord handles.

Neither of the sample boxes is specially fitted in any way to accommodate or hold particular goods. It is our understanding that although these items are referred to as "hat boxes", they are not specifically dedicated for the storage or transport of hats. The predominant use of these goods, as we understand it, will be for the storage of various personal items (including hats), limited only by size, in the household.


How are these goods classified under the provisions of 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). 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 GRIs may be applied, taken in order.

In the instant case, we note three headings of the nomenclature which may be eligible for classification of these goods.

The first is heading 4819, HTSUSA, which is the provision proposed in your letter of December 22nd. After consideration of the heading terms, as well as the provisions of the accompanying Section, Chapter and Explanatory Notes, we have determined that heading 4819, HTSUSA, does not include these goods. In interpreting the meaning of HTSUSA heading terms, the language of the nomenclature must be read in pari materia, or as a whole. This is particularly true of items considered for inclusion under a provision for "other containers", since goods classified under a basket provision for other or similar goods must be ejusdem generis, or similar to, the goods specifically enumerated in the heading.

It is our opinion that the terms of heading 4819, HTSUSA, do not encompass these goods. We note that the items set out in the heading appear to be of a commercial nature. In contrast, you have indicated that these goods are more suited to, and will be used principally in, the household. While we do not decide here that heading 4819, HTSUSA, is restricted in its scope, (i.e., to commercial goods), we further note in relation to the instant goods that the Explanatory Notes refer to the storage and transport of merchandise, and that the items enumerated there are of the variety not ordinarily found in the household. In addition, the printing referred to in the Explanatory Notes is that of a commercial nature: merchant names, directions for use, pictures of the product, etc. Lastly, we note the language cited by you that the heading includes containers "whether or not also having a decorative value." We believe that this provision of the Notes indicates merely that containers having a dual role, both as containers of merchandise and as decorative items, are not excluded from the heading on the basis of a secondary function. The Explanatory Note is not intended to bring decorative boxes such as these, having a singular purpose of household storage, within the scope of the heading. In summary, it is simply our opinion that the instant goods do not fit within the heading.

In addition to heading 4819, HTSUSA, we have also considered the provisions of heading 4202, HTSUSA, for classification of these goods. However, following similar rationale, we are of the opinion that these goods are not sufficiently similar to the enumerated items of heading 4202, HTSUSA, to include them under the provisions for "similar containers." We note that "hat boxes" are specifically mentioned in the Explanatory Notes to heading 4202, HTSUSA. This, however, does not suspend the requirement that an item must be ejusdem generis to the enumerated items of a heading for inclusion under "similar containers" (see above). This office has previously ruled that hat boxes similar to these, but covered with textile material, were not included within heading 4202, HTSUSA, because they lacked the strength and features, such as locks or clasps, ordinarily found on the enumerated items of heading 4202, HTSUSA. We continue to adhere to that position, and reiterate it in this instance. In other words these items are not, in our opinion, ejusdem generis to the terms of heading 4202, HTSUSA.

Having failed to find heading terms which provide for these goods under GRI 1, we turn to the remaining GRI's for classification. Although these goods are technically composite goods, it is clear that the overwhelming component material is paper or paperboard. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the paper covered paperboard boxes in this case are classified by GRI 3(b), on the basis of essential character, under subheading 4823.90.6500, HTSUSA, as other articles of paper or paperboard, of coated paper or paperboard.


The goods in this case, paper and paperboard boxes for household storage of personal items, are provided for under subheading 4823.90.6500, HTSUSA, as other articles of paper or paperboard, of coated paper or paperboard. The rate of duty on these goods is 5.6 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

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