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HQ 951073

May 4, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F: 951073 ALS


TARIFF NO.: 3921.90.4050

Mr. Eric Granholm
Brady Mfg. Group
T/A Commander Carbon and Ribbon
70 Spruce Street
Paterson, New Jersey 07501

RE: Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) Polyethylene Film in Varying Widths Which Will be Cut in Width and Length to Make Ribbons for Impact Printers

Dear Mr. Granholm:

This is reference to your request of December 31, 1991, for a tariff classification ruling on the subject product and empty plastic cartridges. That portion of your request concerning empty plastic cartridges has been answered by our New York Seaport Area Office in their ruling NY 870304, dated January 27, 1992. That portion of your request concerning the plastic film has been referred to this office for consideration and reply. You provided samples of the plastic film which was the subject of your request.


The product is a polyethylene film coated with pigments, dyes, magnetic iron oxides and binders. It will be imported in widths ranging from 17 to 31 inches and in lengths of approximately 18,000 feet. After importation, the film will be cut in both width and length to make ribbons which will be placed on plastic cores to be used in impact printers.


What is the tariff classification of coated polyethylene film which will be cut in width and length, subsequent to importation, and used as ribbons for impact printers?


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

In considering this matter we noted that the film, as imported on jumbo rolls, is not usable for its intended purpose of impact printing. The jumbo rolls of the product, which are in widths of 17 to 31 inches and in lengths of approximately 18,000 feet, are cut in both width and length and rolled onto cores subsequent to importation.

In reviewing the facts in this case, we have considered the application of subheading 9612.10.9020, 3206.49.4000 and 3921.90.4050, HTSUSA. We initially considered the applicability of subheading 9612.10.9020, HTSUSA, which provides for typewriter or similar ribbons, inked or otherwise prepared for giving impressions, whether or not on spools or in cartridges, other, other. We noted that the subheading seemed to cover the product in question and even though, as imported, it is not ready for use, it might be considered an unfinished machine ribbon and covered under the last referenced subheading pursuant to GRI 2. That GRI provides that any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as presented, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

We next referred to Explanatory Note 96.12, which covers heading 9612, and represents the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. That Note specifies that the heading covers ribbons, whether on spools or in cartridges, for typewriters, calculating machines, or for any
other machines incorporating a device for printing by means of such ribbons. It also specifies that inked ribbons, etc. are included therein and that the ribbons, while usually of textile material, can be made of plastics or paper.

On the surface, the product, as imported, would seem to meet many of the qualities necessary for classification under subheading 9612.10.9020, HTSUSA. We, however, note that the product is imported in jumbo rolls and must be further processed subsequent to importation before it can be used for its intended purpose. This processing consists of slitting the film into appropriate widths and lengths and rolling it onto cores. The aforementioned Explanatory Note indicates that in order to be a ribbon a product must at least have its width defined, although some of its other qualities may yet to be completed. Accordingly, we believe that the instant product has not reached the point, at the time of importation, where it is identifiable as an unfinished ribbon.

We next considered the fact that the product is composed of pigments, dyes, magnetic iron oxides and binders and polyethylene film. Both subheadings 3206.49.4000, HTSUSA, which provides for other coloring matter...preparations based on carbon black and subheading 3921.90.4050, HTSUSA, which provides for other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics, other flexible, other, seem to have some applicability. Since neither subheading specifically covers the product, which is a composite of materials, it is pursuant to GRI 2(b), to be classified according to the principles of GRI 3. Classification under GRI 3(a) is not possible because the two possible subheadings are equally specific. We next considered the classification of the product under GRI 3(b), which calls for classification based on the essential character.

According to the Explanatory Notes, essential character may be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. While it would initially appear that the coating, the most costly part of the film, is the primary element of the product, and that it should form the basis for classification based on essential character, we understand that the polyethylene film makes up most of the volume and weight of the rolls. We, therefore, do not believe that it is clear as to which element of the product forms the essential character thereof.

Accordingly, classification pursuant to GRI 3(b) was not possible and we turned to GRI 3(c) to classify the product. That GRI provides that when goods cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration. Based there, the product would be classified under the provision for plastic sheets and film.


The plastic film coating with pigments, dyes, magnetic iron oxides and binders is classifiable under subheading 3921.90.4050, HTSUSA, as other plates, sheets, film foil and strip, or plastics, other, other, flexible, other. Such products are dutiable at a general rate of 4.2 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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