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HQ 951021

April 9, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:G:F 951021 STB


TARIFF NO.: 3406.00.0000

Mr. Joel K. Simon
One World Trade Center
Suite 3371
New York, N.Y. 10048

RE: Candle Poured into Metal, Heart-Shaped Container

Dear Mr. Simon:

This is in response to your inquiry of December 16, 1991, concerning the tariff classification of an item to be imported from Hong Kong that consists of a decorated heart-shaped container filled with a scented candle. A sample was submitted with your inquiry.


The submitted sample consists of a decorated, heart-shaped base metal container that is filled with a scented candle. The container, which you believe is coated with tin, measures approximately 2 inches at its widest point, 2-1/4 inches in length and 3/4 inches in thickness. The merchandise is identified as item number W05097.


Whether the candle and tin-plated container should be classified together based on essential character or whether they should be classified separately?

If the items are classified together, which item imparts the essential character to the whole?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all 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 (EN's) 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.

The item appears to be a composite good not classifiable solely on the basis of GRI 1 because the components, the candle and holder, are classifiable in different headings. GRI 3 provides guidance on the classification of composite goods. You contend, however, that GRI 3 is not applicable because of GRI 5(a). The GRI's under consideration are set out below. First, however, we note that GRI 3(a) is ruled out because the two headings under consideration only apply to part of the composite good, one heading for the candle and one for the holder. Therefore, according to GRI 3(a), the headings are regarded as equally specific and one cannot be chosen over another. We next refer to GRI 3(b) which states:

(b) Mixtures, 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.

GRI 5(a) states as follows:

(a) Camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, drawing instrument cases, necklace cases and similar containers, specially shaped or fitted to contain a specific article or set of articles, suitable for long-term use and entered with the articles for which they are intended, shall be classified with such articles when of a kind normally sold therewith. The rule does not, however, apply to containers which give the whole its essential character.

Explanatory Note (III) to GRI 5(a) states:

(III) Examples of containers not covered by this Rule are containers such as a silver caddy containing tea, or an ornamental ceramic bowl containing sweets.

You contend that "[T]he candle can be equated with the tea and sweets in that, once it is used up, the substantial container can be used for other purposes. Some of these uses are to hold vitamins, pills, jewelry such as rings and earrings, buttons, pins and other small articles."

We disagree. It is our determination that GRI 5(a) does not prevent the classification of the container with the candle under GRI 3(b). GRI 5(a) states only that containers are not required to be classified with the merchandise with which they are sold when the containers "give the whole its essential character." We conclude that the small, light and inexpensive tin-plated container does not impart the essential character to this merchandise. The examples provided in EN 5(a)(III) are instances of relatively expensive containers filled with inexpensive perishable goods so that the containers are apt to provide the essential character to the whole. This interpretation of GRI 5(a) is echoed in a scholarly work concerning Customs law which uses even more clear-cut examples in stating as follows:

For example, a Tiffany glass bowl filled with popcorn and a Baccarat crystal wine decanter filled with cheap wine would not normally be considered the usual containers for such items. The disparity between the cost of the containers and their contents and the likelihood that the containers in these examples would be reused would indicate that the containers give the units their essential character. Therefore, the Tiffany bowl and the Baccarat decanter would be classified separately from the popcorn and wine, respectively. Import Practice, Second Edition, Customs and Trade Law, David Serko, 1991, Practising Law Institute, pp.89-90.

Such disparity is not present here. In fact, we conclude that the candle, because of its central role in relation to the use of the merchandise, imparts the essential character to the whole. While the container may have some use after the candle is spent, such use would be a minor, fugitive use, not the type of use contemplated by GRI 5(a). The item is marketed as a decorated, scented candle, complete with holder, and not
according to the possible future use that may be made of the small tin when the candle is used up. The determination that the candle and tin are classified together and that the candle imparts the essential character is in accord with prior Customs rulings New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 862101, dated April 17, 1991, and NYRL 838552, April 11, 1989. These rulings concerned scented candles poured into metal tins, which is a very common method of marketing candles.


The candle and holder are classified together in subheading 3406.00.0000, HTSUSA, the provision for candles, tapers and the like, dutiable at the general column one rate of 5.8% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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