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HQ 950226

February 19, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 950226 ALS


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.9090

Mr. Gene Sebring
Gene Sebring and Associates
P. O. Box 21
Skokie, IL 60076

RE: Reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 865017, Dated July 30, 1991, Concerning the Tariff Classification of Plastic Card Holders

Dear Mr. Sebring:

This is reference to your request of August 14, 1991, for reconsideration of NYRL 865017 regarding flexible and rigid sports card holders.


The articles under consideration are plastic card holders. One of the holders is made of polypropylene copolymer, measures 9.5 x 7 cm and has a one layer thickness of 0.048 mm. It is flexible. The other card holder is made of polyvinyl chloride copolymer, measures 10 x 7.5 cm and has a one layer thickness of 0.407 mm. It is rigid. NYRL 865017 held that both these card holders were classifiable under subheading 3926.90.9090, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA) as other articles of plastic.


What is the tariff classification of flexible and rigid sports card holders?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 provides that the classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section and chapter notes. If GRI 1 fails to classify the goods, and if the heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's are applied, taken in order.

The articles under consideration are sports card holders, as previously described. NYRL 865017 held that these holders were classifiable under subheading 3926.90.9090, HTSUSA, as other articles of plastic, other. The inquirer suggests that while that is the correct classification for the rigid card holder, the flexible card holder should be classified in subheading 3923.21.0000, HTSUSA, as articles for the conveyance or packing of goods. Subsequent to the request for reconsideration the inquirer suggested that both types of card holders should be classified under subheading 3924.90.20, HTSUSA, as picture frames.

All the referenced subheadings, which fall in Chapter 39 of the HTSUSA, cover plastics and articles thereof. In considering which of these subheadings most appropriately describes the articles under consideration, we concluded that either the subheading for other articles of plastic or articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, were more appropriate than the subheading for picture frames. We noted that neither of the articles is designed to be used as a picture frame. Neither holder has the accouterments which would permit them to be displayed in a hanging mode or on a desk nor is there provision for same.

In considering the remaining alternate classifications, subheading 3923.21 or 3926.90, HTSUSA, we have referred to the Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized System for assistance. These notes, while not binding, represent the opinion of the international tariff classification experts that drafted those notes and are in the nature of legislative history. We noted that EN 39.23 states that Heading 39.23 covers all articles of plastic commonly used for the packing or conveyance of all kinds of products. EN 39.26 specifies that Heading 3926 includes articles such as dust sheets, protective bags, awnings, file- covers, document-jackets, book covers and reading jackets, and similar protective goods made by sewing or gluing together sheets
of plastic. While the instant holders are made by heat sealing rather than sewing or gluing, they are similar to the exemplars.

Thus, the difference between the aforementioned subheadings, as herein pertinent, is the question as to whether the holders are used for packing or conveyance or whether they are used as a protective covering. Decisions issued by the Customs New York Seaport Area Office have held these items were for protective purposes and classifiable in subheading 3926.90, HTSUSA, (NYRL 865483 and NYRL 864974, dated August 7, 1991). Based on our experience, discussions with the inquirer and discussions with purveyors of sports cards, we believe it is clear that the primary purpose of the holders is to protect the cards and not to transport them. The primary distinction between the flexible card holders and the rigid card holders is the value of the card to be placed therein. The more expensive the card the more likely it is that the card will be placed in a rigid holder which offers better protection. While the importer has indicated that a sports card might be placed in a flexible holder and then in a rigid holder, we note that the primary purpose of both remains protection of the card. As one purveyor of sports cards and holders informally advised us, if one merely desired to carry the cards between locations, that purpose could be served by placing them a small cardboard box.


Plastic sports card holders, whether of flexible or rigid construction, are designed to protect cards placed therein. They are classifiable under the provision for other articles of plastic and classifiable in subheading 3926.90.9090, HTSUSA. The holders are subject to general rate of duty of 5.3 per cent ad valorem.

NYRL 865017, dated July 30, 1991, is hereby affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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