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HQ 950614

November 21, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 950614 LPF


TARIFF NO.: 9615.11.4000; 9615.11.5000

Mr. Robert P. Rait
Import Coordinator,
Almar Sales Company
12 West 37th Street
New York, NY 10018

RE: Modification of Pre-Entry Classification Ruling 860983; Interchangeable Photo Frame Collection in subheading 9615.11.4000, HTSUSA; Imitation Pearl Barrette in subheading 9615.11.5000, HTSUSA

Dear Mr. Rait:

In Pre-Entry Classification Ruling 860983 issued April 25, 1991, an interchangeable photo frame collection, from China, was classified in subheading 9615.19.6010, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), providing for combs, hair-slides and the like, of textile materials. The general column one rate of duty was 11 percent ad valorem. In addition, an imitation pearl barrette, from China, was classified in subheading 9615.11.4000, HTSUSA, providing for combs, hair-slides and the like, not set with imitation pearls or imitation gemstones. The general column one rate of duty was 5.3 percent ad valorem. Subsequently, we have reviewed that ruling and have found it to be in error. The correct classification is as follows.


The interchangeable photo frame collection, style #LL552, includes a necklace consisting of a plastic heart-shaped photo frame suspended on a braided textile cord, two plastic heart- shaped photo frames on plastic bar barrettes and a small clear vinyl pouch containing twelve individual paper heart-shaped photos designed to fit into either the barrettes or the necklace.

The pearl barrette, style #TS-2700, consists of imitation pearls on a metal spring clasp. You submitted samples of both articles with your request for a modification.


Whether the interchangeable photo frame collection is a set for tariff purposes and whether both the photo frame collection and pearl barrette are classifiable in heading 9615, HTSUSA, as combs, hair-slides and the like, including the appropriate subheading.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in their appropriate order provide a framework for classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA. The majority of imported goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative 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 then be applied. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's.

Photo Frame Collection

The photo frame collection consists of several articles including a necklace, barrettes, a vinyl pouch and paper photos. Since the HTSUSA provides for each of these articles in separate headings, classification is determined by applying GRI 3(a) which explains, in pertinent part, that when goods are, prima facie, classifiable in two or more headings, the articles are to be classified in the heading which provides the most specific description of the good in question. However, all headings are regarded as equally specific when each refers to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale.

In accordance with Explanatory Note X to GRI 3(b), the photo frame collection is a set since: (a) at least two of the articles are classifiable in different headings; (b) the merchandise consists of items put up together to meet a particular need, specifically, for a child's personal adornment; and (c) the set, which is packaged in plastic affixed to a board, is ready for direct sale without repacking.

Since the photo frame collection is, therefore, a set, and the headings under which the components could be classified refer to only part of the articles in the set, we must next turn to GRI 3(b) to classify the photo frame collection. This rule provides that the set is classified by the component which gives the set its essential character. "Essential character" is the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article, or set, is. Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) provides that essential character may 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.

In this case, the barrettes impart the essential character. The barrettes represent the greatest quantity and bulk of the components. In addition, the use of the other components, such as the paper photos, revolve around the use of the barrettes.

Focusing on the appropriate heading for the barrettes, the Explanatory Notes to heading 9615, HTSUSA, explain that hair- slides and the like, hold the hair in place or are used for ornamental purposes. Therefore, the article is classifiable in heading 9615, HTSUSA. Since the barrettes are plastic, the applicable subheading is 9615.11.4000, HTSUSA, providing, in pertinent part, for plastic hair slides.

Pearl Barrette

This article consists of imitation pearls on a metal spring clasp. Pursuant to GRI 1, the article is classifiable according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule. Once again, heading 9615, HTSUSA, provides for the barrette since it is a hair-slide which holds the hair in place or is used for ornamental purposes.

As for the proper classification of the article at the subheading level, subheading 9615.11.4000, HTSUSA, provides for plastic hair-slides not set with imitation pearls or gemstones, while subheading 9615.11.5000, HTSUSA, provides for other plastic hair-slides. In this case, the applicable subheading is 9615.11.5000, HTSUSA, since the barrette is, in fact, set with imitation pearls.


The interchangeable photo frame collection is properly classified in subheading 9615.11.4000, as "[c]ombs, hair-slides and the like;...combs, hair-slides and the like (con.): of hard rubber or plastics (con.): Other: Not set with imitation pearls or imitation gemstones." The general column one rate of duty is 5.3 percent ad valorem.

The pearl barrette is properly classified in subheading 9615.11.5000, as "[c]ombs, hair-slides and the like;...combs, hair-slides and the like (con.): Of hard rubber or plastics (con.): Other: Other (than those not set with imitation pearls or imitation gemstones)." The general column one rate of duty is 11 percent ad valorem.

This notice should be considered a modification of Pre-Entry Classification Ruling 860983 pursuant to 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1). It is not to be applied retroactively to Ruling 860983 (19 CFR 177.9(d)(2)) and will not, therefore, affect past transactions for the importation of your merchandise under that ruling. However, for the purposes of future transactions in merchandise of this type, Ruling 860983 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected by this modification, in that current contracts for importations arriving at a port subsequent to this decision will be classified pursuant to it. If such a situation arises, you may, at your discretion, notify this office and apply for relief from the binding effects of this decision as may be warranted by the circumstances.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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