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HQ 950636

January 16, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 950636 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 7326.20.00

Mr. David W. Paskin
E.P.C. Int. Inc.
11304 Taffrail Court
Reston, VA 22091

RE: Key Rings; GRI 3(b); EN 3(b)(VIII); HQ 087831; Revocation of NY 847644, NY 853072, NY 854126, NY 854127, NY 854128, NY 856670; 3926.90.90

Dear Mr. Paskin:

This is in response to your letter of October 1, 1991, concerning the classification of key rings under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise consists of key rings with plastic holders attached. The plastic holder has a recess into which a logo or photograph can be placed. The logo or photograph is held in place by a clear plastic window which snaps into the recess. A further variation of the key ring is a version that includes a soft plastic pouch in various colors to protect the plastic holder. The pouch may be embossed with a logo to customer specifications.


What is the proper classification of the subject key rings under the HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

The two subheadings at issue are 7326.20.00 and 3926.90.90, HTSUS. Subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, provides for: "[a]rticles of iron or steel wire." Subheading 3926.90.90, HTSUS, provides for: "[o]ther articles of plastic: [o]ther."

HQ 087831, dated November 27, 1990, dealt with a steel split key ring with a non-utilitarian vinyl attachment. A Diet Pepsi logo was imprinted onto the vinyl portion of the key ring. In that ruling, it was held that under GRI 3(b) analysis, the essential character of the key ring was the steel element.

GRI 3(b) provides that:

[m]ixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, 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, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). Explanatory Note 3(b)(VIII) (p. 4) provides that:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between 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.

In HQ 087831, it was stated that "[t]his office is of the opinion that, as between plastic and steel components, it is the steel element which provides the essential character of this item. We base this conclusion on two factors . . . Second, the steel component is what makes up the utilitarian portion of the key ring, whereas the plastic component is present primarily for decorative purposes."

It is our position that the steel element of the subject key rings is what makes up the utilitarian portion of the key rings. It is the part that keeps keys together, which is the primary purpose of key rings. The plastic element is present for decorative purposes and to add bulk to the entity.

Legal Note 2 to chapter 73, HTSUS, states that "[i]n this chapter the word 'wire' means hot- or cold-formed products of any cross-sectional shape, of which no cross-sectional dimension exceeds 16 mm." The subject key rings meet the definition of a steel wire in chapter 73, HTSUS. Accordingly, they are classifiable under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS.

NY 847644, dated December 13, 1989, NY 853072, dated June 14, 1990, NY 854126, dated July 27,1990, NY 854127, dated July 18, 1990, NY 854128, dated July 27, 1990, and NY 856670, dated October 9, 1990, all classified similar key rings under 3926.90.90, HTSUS. Based upon the reasoning in this ruling and in HQ 087831, those rulings no longer represent the views of the Customs Service and will be revoked.


The subject key rings are classifiable under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS. The general, column one rate of duty is 5.7 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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