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HQ 086404

May 16, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:G 086404 STB


TARIFF NO.: 4911.91.30

Ms. Elaine Jacoby
Miles, Hastings, & Joffroy, Inc.
6403 Avenida Costa Norte
Suite 3000
Otay Mesa, California 92073

RE: Christmas "Postbox"

Dear Ms. Jacoby:

Your letter of January 12, 1990, to our New York office has been referred to this office for reply concerning the tariff classification of a Christmas "Postbox." A sample was submitted with your request.


The representative sample that was submitted with your letter is referred to as a "POSTBOX" (T.M.) gift box and consists of a sealed, transparent 6 x 13 x 20 cm hard-plastic box containing a Christmas "scene" or three-dimensional picture, made up of printed paper cutouts glued onto a paperboard base and background in varied locations. According to your letter, the plastic box and lid will be injection molded in the United States. Additionally, the interior scene form and paper cut outs will be printed and die cut in the United States. The materials will then be exported to Mexico to be assembled. The assembly process will consist of separating the paper cut outs, forming the interior scene form by folding the paper, inserting the paper cut outs in the interior scene form, placing the scene in the box and permanently assembling the lid to the box. The gift box will then be packaged with a shrink wrap film and packed in master cartons of U.S. origin.

In your letter, you note the following differences between the "sales sample" that you submitted with your request and what you expect of the actual production articles:

The sales sample is made of acrylic and the box is formed by gluing the pieces together. The production
article will be a one piece injection molded plastic (styrene) box with a separate lid which will be permanently assembled to the box. The scene in the sample is a Christmas scene but the actual production articles could be any seasonal scene, greeting or souvenir scene. The other difference is that the "POSTBOX" trademark will be on the shrink wrap packaging film rather than on the plastic of the box as shown on the sample presented.

In your second letter, dated January 15, 1990, you stated that this is only a prospective product at this time and that several things, such as cost standards to produce and time to manufacture, have not yet been determined. You noted, however, that in all cases the plastic (styrene) box will constitute the greater weight and will contain the greater value of the material costs.

Your client has requested that "any information concerning this article be kept confidential" since it is "still in the development process."


What is the proper classification of the sample "Postbox" and similar items representing "any seasonal scene, greeting or souvenir scene"?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). This item is a composite good, generally composed of plastic, paper, and printed matter and therefore requires reference to GRI 3(b) for proper classification. GRI 3 (b) provides that:

(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 the component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The Explanatory Notes to GRI 3(b), which constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, set out the following test for determining essential character:

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 or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. (Emphasis added.)

It is our determination that the essential character of the subject "Postbox" is provided by the printed pictorial images on the various cutouts. The proper classification is under subheading 4911.91.30 which provides for pictorial lithographs on paper or paperboard over 0.51 mm in thickness. This is a duty free classification. The primary use of these items is to allow for the viewing and display of the printed scenes. The presence of these scenes is so critical to the function of the item that the bulk and weight of the plastic box becomes less relevant. Moreover, according to the Explanatory Notes for heading 4911, as amended, the frames of framed pictures and photographs are classified with the picture or photograph in heading 4911 in cases in which the picture provides the essential character of the item. The plastic box in this case, although not necessarily a frame if classified separately, is analogous to a frame for the cutout scenes.

When discussing the thickness of the item, Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 49, HTSUSA, must be considered. This note, which provides that "...the thickness of a permanently mounted lithograph is the combined thickness of the lithograph and its mounting", is the basis for the classification of this item as being over 0.51 mm in thickness.


The subject "Postbox", is properly classifiable under subheading 4911.91.30, HTSUSA, which provides for "lithographs on paper or paperboard: over 0.51 mm in thickness" with a free rate
of duty. Inasmuch as the duty rate is free, there is no need to explore whether these items are entitled to the partial duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUSA, for items assembled abroad in whole or in part of fabricated components, the product of the United States.


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