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HQ 088322

April 8, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 088322 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 4819.20.0020

Mr. Jeffrey H. Pfeffer
Fritz Companies, Inc.
40 Exchange Place, 12th Floor
New York, New York 10005

RE: Folding paperboard carton stock; polyethylene coated paperboard; aluminum foil lined paperboard; juice cartons; paperboard carton stock in rolls; printed carton stock; printed matter; coated paperboard; materials used for articles; incomplete or unassembled.

Dear Mr. Pfeffer:

We have received your letter dated November 7, 1990, on behalf of your client Tetra Pak, Inc., in which you request a binding tariff classification ruling for folding carton stock made from printed paperboard. Your correspondence and representative samples of the merchandise were forwarded to this office for a reply.


The merchandise referred to as folding carton stock consists of paperboard which has been printed with a design selected by the importer's customer. The outside of the paperboard is coated with polyethylene and the inner surface lined with aluminum foil. The merchandise is cut into rolls of approximately 17,500 individual packages for importation. The cartons are used as containers for liquids such a fruit juice. The rolls are loaded into a machine which forms the paperboard into a long tube. The tube is filled with the drink product and sealing jaws cut and seal the package below the level of the product, forming a square carton.


Is the folding carton stock classified as coated paperboard or as folding containers for beverages?


Your letter suggests that heading 4811, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is the proper classification for this merchandise. We do not agree. 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. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

Here, we have considered two headings of the nomenclature for classification:

4811 Paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding and webs of cellulose fibers, coated, impregnated, covered, surface colored, surface-decorated or printed, in rolls or sheets, other than goods of heading 4803, 4809, 4810 or 4818:

4819 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:

These two provisions describe, respectively, materials and articles, the difference being the degree of finishing, processing and/or dedication to use exhibited by the item. The cartons at issue here are composed of materials described in heading 4811, HTSUSA, and will eventually become containers described in heading 4819, HTSUSA. The issue then is to determine whether the rolls of carton stock are sufficiently advanced to be considered articles (albeit incomplete or unfinished) or whether they are materials. We believe that they are articles of heading 4819, HTSUSA.

Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the predecessor to the HTSUSA, containers such as these were classified as "boxes." However, the TSUS did not have a materials provision comparable to heading 4811 of the HTSUSA (coated paperboard in rolls). Therefore, the "boxes" provision included numerous articles in various stages of completion. Under the HTSUSA, we believe that heading 4819, HTSUSA, will be more narrow than its TSUS predecessor. Simple coated paperboard material becomes classifiable as an carton of heading 4819, HTSUSA, when its character or identity as an article becomes evident, an it has been finished or processed to the point at which it has become irrevocably committed to use as that article. The Explanatory Notes, which are the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level, recognize that articles of heading 4819, HTSUSA, are of this type:

The heading includes folding cartons boxes and cases. These are:

- cartons, boxes and cases in the flat in one piece, for assembly by folding and slotting (e.g., cake boxes); and

- containers assembled or intended to be assembled by means of glue, staples, etc., on one side only, the
construction of the container itself providing the means of forming the other sides . . .

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

For example, the instant carton stock has been cut into rolls, creased, marked and punched in such a manner that the character of a drink container has become evident. In addition, it has been printed, lined, and coated which, in addition to the creasing, commit it to use as a drink container. It has been processed beyond the degree of goods found in the materials heading, 4811, HTSUSA, which serves to classify unprinted, blank or bleached carton stock and parts of cartons which, by themselves, do not yet carry the character of a container.

Your letter assertions that the proper classification of the cartons is as a material in heading 4811, HTSUSA. Your assertion is based on the language of the heading which provides for coated paperboard in "rolls or sheets", and your understanding that the Explanatory Notes limit heading 4819, HTSUSA, to singular cartons ("in one piece" as opposed to "in rolls or sheets"). First, we do not read the Explanatory Notes to segregate merchandise imported in single units versus roll or bulk form between heading 4819 and 4811, HTSUSA, respectively. The terms "in one piece" provide for cartons boxes, etc., which are complete in and of themselves, as opposed to boxes which have two or more components such as a bottom and top/lid. There is no restriction that would serve to exclude boxes or cartons in one piece from being imported in bulk or roll form. Secondly, your letter raises the issue of specificity. Assuming that we considered this merchandise to be described equally by both heading 4811 and 4819, HTSUSA, we would still classify the cartons in heading 4819, HTSUSA, because it provides more specifically for the goods. The provision clearly identifies a product (cartons, boxes) and describes the use to which those items are put.

Our New York office has raised a question regarding marking found on one of the samples as it pertains to country of origin. In light of recent judicial action, we suggest that you review the regulations concerning the marking of imported goods and consider requesting a binding ruling as to the correct marking of these products. Your request may be addressed directly to this office.


The merchandise at issue, folding paperboard carton stock, printed and coated with polyethylene, has acquired the character of a container. It is classified in subheading 4819.20.0020, HTSUSA, as folding cartons of paper, comprising sanitary beverage containers. The applicable rate of duty is 2.8 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

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