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HQ 088972

June 7, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 088972 DFC


TARIFF NO.: 9606.21.60

Mr. Leonard J. Liff
Director of International Purchasing
Creative Images, Inc.
6025 W. Monroe
Phoenix, Arizona 85043

RE: Button covers.

Dear Mr. Liff:

In a letter dated February 14, 1991, you inquired as to the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of certain button covers produced in China. A sample was submitted for examination.


The sample, called a "BOO" button cover, is similar to other button covers in that it consists of a decorative motif attached to a clip with hinge which fits over a standard button. The cover functions to temporarily enhance or decorate one's apparel. The sample cover is unique in that it is in the form of a skull. It is described on the packaging card as a "masquerade accent accessory." The skull is made of plastics material and the clip with hinge is made of metal.

You state that the button cover will be used during the festive celebration of Halloween.


Is the "BOO" button cover a festive article for tariff purposes?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that "classification shall be determined according to the
terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRI's taken in order]." In other words, classification is governed first by the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.

Subheading 9505.90.60, HTSUSA, provides for festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, including magic tricks and practical joke articles, parts and accessories, other.

The Explanatory Notes (EN's) are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. EN (A) to heading 95.05 states that the heading covers:

(A) Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, which in view of their intended use are generally made of non-durable material. They include:

(1) Decorations such as festoons, garlands, Chinese lanterns, etc., as well as various decorative articles made of paper, metal foil, glass fibre, etc., for Christmas trees (e.g., tinsel, stars, icicles), artificial snow, coloured balls, bells, lanterns, etc. Cake and other decorations (e.g., animals, flags) which are traditionally associated with a particular festival are also classified here.

(2) Articles traditionally used as Christmas festivities, e.g., artificial Christmas trees (these are sometimes of the folding type), nativity scenes, Christmas crackers, Christmas stockings, imitation yule logs.

In determining whether an item can qualify for classification under heading 9505, HTSUSA, it is our position that an article, by its shape, design, ornamentation and appropriate use in connection with a recognized festive holiday is an article that falls under heading 9505. For the most part, such items have no function, but are decorative in nature.

Inasmuch as heading 9505 is a use provision, Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a) is relevant. It reads as follows:

1. In the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires--

(a) a tariff classification controlled by use (other than actual use) is to be determined in accordance with the use in the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation, of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong, and the controlling use is the principal use.

The instant button cover may have the design or ornamentation appropriate for use during a specific holiday. The packaging card describes the "BOO" button covers as "the perfect finishing touch for any classy masquerade ensemble." However, decorative button covers, as a class or kind, are not specifically holiday related. Articles of this class or kind of merchandise are used all year long and with a variety of motifs. They are not principally used as festive articles. Consequently, classification under subheading 9505.90.6000, HTSUSA, is inappropriate.

Subheading 9606.21, HTSUSA, provides for buttons, press- fasteners, snap-fasteners and press-studs, button molds and other parts of these articles, button blanks, of plastics.

The EN to heading 96.06 reads in pertinent part as follows:

This heading covers buttons, studs, and similar articles used for fastening or decorating articles of apparel, household linen, etc. These articles may be made of various materials and they may contain natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones (natural, synthetic or reconstructed), precious metal or metal clad with precious metal provided these latter materials are present as minor components only. Otherwise they fall in Chapter 71.

The term "button" is defined in Webster"s New World Dictionary, 1968, as "any small disk, knob etc. used as a fastening or ornament, as on a garment."

The EN to heading 96.06 describes shank buttons as follows:

In some shank buttons, the shank is in the form of a spring-type hinge which enables the button to be secured to a garment without sewing. Other types (e.g., "bachelor buttons") are affixed to garments by a snap mechanism.

The "Boo" button cover, like other button covers, attaches by means of a hinged fastener, but it attaches to the button rather than the garment. Thus it is not a shank button.

However, heading 9606, HTSUSA, covers not only buttons, but studs and similar articles. The "Boo" button cover is similar to studs and ornamental buttons in that its purpose is ornamental. This button cover when attached to a button decorates the garment even though not directly attached thereto.

The button cover is composed of plastic and metal. GRI 2(b), HTSUSA, provides in pertinent part that "[t]he classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3".

GRI 3, HTSUSA, reads in pertinent part as follows:

3. When by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods . . . those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods, consisting of different materials or made up of different components, . . . which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which give them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The EN for GRI 3(b) reads in pertinent part as follows:

(VIII) 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.

The button cover is prima facie classifiable either under subheading 9606.21.60, HTSUSA, as buttons of plastics, not covered with textile material, other or under subheading 9606.22.00, HTSUSA, as buttons, of base metal, not covered with textile material.

You have submitted a breakdown by weight showing that the plastics material predominates by weight. The plastics material also predominates by bulk. But most importantly, plastic plays the dominant role in relation to the use of the goods. For this reason, it is our position that the plastics material imparts the essential character to the button cover.


The button cover is dutiable at the General rate of 5.7 percent ad valorem under subheading 9606.21.60, HTSUSA.


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