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HQ 087254

September 24, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087254 CRS


TARIFF NO.: 4202.12.2030

Acting District Director
U.S. Customs Service
P.O. Box 3130
Laredo, Texas 78044-3130

RE: Request for Internal Advice 29/90. Essential character of correspondence folder containing writing pad and calculator is conferred by the folder itself. Folder is classifiable as similar to attache case and briefcase.

Dear Sir:

This is in reply to your memorandum dated April 5, 1990, to the Chief, Customs Information Exchange, forwarding an Internal Advice Request submitted by Airway Industries, Inc., concerning the classification of a plastic correspondence folder under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The article in question is a correspondence folder, style 00780-17. The folder or portfolio measures approximately 13 inches by 10 inches, has a clasp closure and is made from plastic. The portfolio contains three compartments or organizer pockets and, in addition, is designed to hold a writing tablet and pocket calculator. The folder and the articles it contains come packaged in a box ready for retail display and sale. The folders are imported through the ports of Laredo and El Paso.

Airway asserts that the portfolio is used principally in meetings or classrooms to take notes and that it is therefore distinguishable from attache cases. Consequently, they are of the view that the portfolio should be classified as office or school supplies of subheading 3926.10.000, HTSUSA. In support of this Airway cites New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 841844 dated June 14, 1989.


Whether the folder in question is classifiable as office or school supplies of subheading 3926.10.0000, HTSUSA.


Articles are classified under the HTSUSA in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that articles are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided the headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Four headings are applicable to the article in question, a plastic correspondence folder containing a calculator and a memorandum or writing pad: heading 3926, HTSUSA, other articles of plastic; heading 4202, HTSUSA, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels and similar containers; heading 8470, HTSUSA, calculating machines; and heading 4820, HTSUSA, memorandum pads and letter pads.

When two or more headings are prima facie applicable, goods are to be classified according to GRI 3. GRI 3(b) provides that goods put up in sets for retail sale are to be classified according to the component which gives them their essential character. The expression "goods put up in sets for retail sale" is defined by the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes at 4, as goods which: consist of at least two different articles which are classifiable in different headings; consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking. The merchandise at issue consists of three articles to which more than two headings are applicable. The articles contained in the folder are designed to facilitate note taking and are packaged together in a box ready for sale directly to users. The style 0780-17 folder is a retail set within the meaning of GRI 3(b) and is therefore classifiable according to its essential character.

As between the calculator, memorandum pad and portfolio it is the latter which constitutes the set's essential character. The portfolio or folder "functions to bring together all the component goods in a single set" and provides a carrying case for pens, paper and other business basics. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 086310 dated March 29, 1990, HRL 085870 dated February 15, 1990, and HRL 083261 dated September 14, 1989.

Heading 3926, HTSUSA, covers other articles of plastic; subheading 3926.10.0000, HTSUSA, provides specifically for office or school supplies. These include such articles as "file-covers, document-jackets, book covers and reading jackets, and similar protective goods made by sewing or gluing together sheets of plastic (Explanatory Notes, EN 39.26, 575).

In NYRL 841844 a pad holder was classified in subheading 3926.10.0000. However, it is Customs' view that correspondence folders designed to carry pens, paper, and the like, are a class of merchandise separate and distinct from, e.g., document-jackets or pad holders which are designed merely to protect the articles they cover. Furthermore, Note 1(h), Chapter 39, HTSUSA, excludes containers of heading 4202 from classification in Chapter 39.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides, inter alia, for attache cases, briefcases, school satchels and similar containers, of various materials, including those with outer surface of plastic. The folder in question is similar to an attache case or briefcase in that it is used to carry papers and other documents. Consequently, it is classifiable in heading 4202.


The style 00780-17 correspondence folder is classifiable in subheading 4202.12.2030, HTSUSA, under the provision for trunks, suitcases...and similar containers, with outer surface of plastics or of textile materials, with outer surface of plastics, attache cases, brief cases (sic), school satchels, occupational luggage cases and similar containers, and is dutiable at the rate of 20 percent ad valorem.

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.


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