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HQ 087991

January 10, 1991

CO:R:C:G CLA-2 087991 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 3920.20.0000

Mr. Sal Della Ventura
Classification & Compliance
Sony Corporation of America
Sony Drive
Park Ridge, New Jersey 07656

RE: Printed polypropylene film; Printed matter; Merely incidental to the use of the goods; Packing container; Plastic sheet; Video cassette wrapping.

Dear Mr. Ventura:

This is in reference to your letter of September 7, 1990, requesting a tariff classification for printed plastic film for packaging video cassettes. Your letter and a sample of the goods have been forwarded to this office for a ruling.


The merchandise, which will be imported from Japan, is described as a plastic film (propylene) that will be imported in rolls, nine and one-quarter inches wide. You have indicated that the film is printed with product information including bar codes. At regular intervals there is blank space indicating where the film is cut to the desired length. The use of the merchandise is as overwrap material to package unrecorded video cassettes.


How are the goods classified under 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.

Printed matter is classified in the provisions of Chapter 49, HTSUSA, as indicated by Note 2 to Section VII, HTSUSA:

2. Except for the goods of heading 3918 or 3919, plastics, rubber and articles thereof, printed with motifs, characters or pictorial representations,
which are not merely incidental to the primary use of the goods, fall in chapter 49.

(Emphasis added). The central question here is whether the printing found on the plastic film is "merely incidental" to the primary use of the goods. We believe that it is. There is no question that the primary use of the film is as a wrapper for video cassettes. In deciding that the printing is merely incidental to that use we look to the Explanatory Notes, which constitute the official interpretation of the tariff schedule at the international level. The Explanatory Notes provide in pertinent part that articles "of which the essential nature and use is determined by the fact of its being printed with motifs, characters or pictorial representations" are classified as printed matter.

The essential nature of the film at issue here is not determined by the printing. The Explanatory Notes anticipate and we have held that articles such as seed packets, record sleeves, and other articles "printed, e.g., with the name of the merchant, directions for use, illustrations" are not printed matter. The information conveyed here is comparable to that on seed packets or other articles; it is not more than merely incidental to the primary use of the goods.

Having excluded these goods from Chapter 49, HTSUSA, we turn to the headings of Chapter 39, HTSUSA, which provide for articles of plastics. Heading 3920, HTSUSA, includes plates, sheets and film of non-cellular plastics. The Explanatory Notes indicate that goods of this heading may be printed. We are of the opinion that the heading terms provide for the instant goods. Within heading 3920, HTSUSA, plastic film is further classified on the basis of constituent material. Subheading 3920.20.0000, HTSUSA, provides for plastic film of polymers of propylene.


The merchandise at issue, printed plastic film (propylene), imported in rolls, used for the wrapping of unrecorded video cassettes, is classified in subheading 3920.20.0000, HTSUSA, as film of plastic, noncellular and not reinforced or similarly combined with other materials, of polymers of propylene. The rate of duty applicable to this merchandise is 4.2 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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