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HQ 950397

January 23, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950397 SK


TARIFF NO.: 4820.10.2050

Mr. Geoff Phillips
Tic-La-Dex Business Systems, Inc.
3443 Camino Del Rio South
Suite 326
San Diego, CA 92108-3901

RE: Revocation of Headquarters Ruling Letter 087439 (10/30/90); 4820, HTSUSA; GRI 3(b); portfolio not container of heading 4202; planner; organizer

Dear Mr. Phillips:

In our letter of May 14, 1991, this office advised you that HRL 087439, concerning the tariff status of an unassembled portfolio, was modified with respect to our analysis which determined the merchandise to constitute a set under General Interpretative Rule 3(b). It has since been brought to our attention that the classification of the subject portfolio as a container in heading 4202, HTSUSA, may be incorrect.


The articles at issue, designated as Style Number 61010, is a portfolio designed to contain the following items:

1) a two year monthly calendar (planner); 2) a built-in calculator;
3) 100 color assorted "calendar" cards (3" x 5"); 4) a removable credit card wallet;
5) a writing pad (8" x 10");
6) a full-size file folio section,
7) pockets for business cards and papers; 7) a portfolio fitted with lock and key, the outer surface of which is a fabric-backed cellular plastics material.

The various components were to be shipped into the United States in separate cartons in the same import container. The components (outer cover, main body and hardware) were to be assembled in the United States by means of simple fixing devices such as sewing and gluing. Remaining articles were to be inserted into the finished portfolio.


Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable under heading 4820 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for, inter alia, notebooks, letter pads, memorandum pads, diaries and similar articles?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Where 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 in the order of their appearance.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for various containers. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 088430, dated April 11, 1991, this office determined that heading 4202, HTSUSA, was not applicable to articles such as "planners" and "organizers." Customs held that a tri-fold planner was not the type of merchandise which would fall within the definition of "similar containers" as set forth in heading 4202, HTSUSA.

"Although the planner may appear to be related to the containers of heading 4202, HTSUSA, they are not similar in that they are not designed or intended for use in a similar manner, nor do they exhibit the requisite physical attributes that Customs has found common to goods of heading 4202, HTSUSA."

The article at issue is primarily intended to organize information and belongings and, as such, it is not similar to those containers enumerated in heading 4202, HTSUSA.

Heading 4820, HTSUSA, covers articles that are associated with stationary, record keeping and organizational aids. All the items included in the subject merchandise, except the calculator, are akin to those items enumerated in heading 4820, HTSUSA: the calander, writing pad and assorted pockets for credit cards and business cards are all used to keep records of activities and aid organization. The calculator, however, is not provided for in heading 4820, HTSUSA, as it is a battery-operated item and not normally associated with stationary and notepads, etc.

Calculators are classifiable in heading 8470, HTSUSA, which provides for calculating machines.

In this instance, GRI 1 is not determinative of the subject merchandise's tariff status because more than one heading potentially governs classification of this article. The pertinent headings are 4820, HTSUSA, which provides for notebooks, memorandum pads and similar articles, and 8470, HTSUSA, which provides for calculating machines. When goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings of the Nomenclature, classification shall be as follows:

3(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.

As mentioned supra, both headings 4820 and 8470, HTSUSA, apply with equal specificity to the subject merchandise. Each heading applies to a part of the portfolio, but neither heading provides for the article in its entirety. Accordingly, appropriate analysis is provided by GRI 3(b):

3(b) ... 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 gives them their essential character.

Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) states:

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.

This office agrees with the conclusion reached in HRL 087439, that the component which constitutes the most distinctive feature of the article and which plays the dominant role in its function as an organizer and planner, is the portfolio. The role of the portfolio with its paper, cards and pockets is indispensable to the overall use of the item. The portfolio is more than a container; it functions to bring together all the component goods to enable the user to employ them in a coordinated and organized fashion. The calculator is a valuable tool, however it does not provide the main function of this article nor is its monetary value such that it is the most costly component. The essential character of the subject merchandise is that of a portfolio, and classification is proper under heading 4820, HTSUSA, which provides for articles of this nature.


The article at issue is classifiable under subheading 4820.10.2050, HTSUSA, which provides for registers, account books, notebooks, order books, receipt books, letter pads, memorandum pads, diaries and similar articles, exercise books, blotting pads, binders (looseleaf or other), folders, file covers, manifold business forms, interleaved carbon sets and other articles of stationary, of paper or paperboard; registers, account books, notebooks, order books, receipt books, letter pads, memorandum pads, diaries and similar articles: diaries, notebooks and address books, bound; memorandum pads, letter pads and similar articles ... other. The applicable rate of duty is 4 percent ad valorem.

In order to ensure uniformity in Customs' classification of this merchandise and eliminate uncertainty pursuant to section 177.9(d)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(d)(1)), HRL 087439 is revoked effective with the date of this letter, to reflect the above classification and the fact that items imported in separate boxes are not considered as put up in sets for retail
sale. If, after your review, you disagree with the legal basis for our decision, we invite you to submit any arguments you might have with respect to this matter. Any submission you wish to make should be received within 30 days of the date of this letter.

This revocation is not retroactive. However, HRL 087439 will not be valid for importations of the subject merchandise arriving in the United States after the date of this notice. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected (i.e., merchandise previously ordered and arriving in the United States subsequent to this revocation will be classified accordingly). If it can be shown that you relied on HRL 087439 to your detriment, you may apply to this office for relief. However, you should be aware that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.

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.


John Durant, Director

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