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HQ 084665

June 1, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:CV:G: 084665 JLV 836346


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.83

Ms. Jackie Chen
Advanced Trading Co., Inc.
111 South Hill Drive
Brisbane, California 94005

RE: Unassembled plastic components for typewriter ribbon cases

Dear Ms. Chen:

In a letter of November 22, 1988, you requested a ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) on the classification of certain unassembled plastic components for typewriter ribbon cases. Additional information was obtained by telephone from your company.


The merchandise in issue is unassembled ABS plastic components consisting of a lid, base, transfer gear, drive gear, roller holder, and two holders for the gears. These components are to be shipped in bulk and in sufficient quantities of each to make a specific number of typewriter ribbon cases. These components are produced in Taiwan.

These components are then assembled with spools, ribbon,and a spring to form a complete typewriter ribbon cassette. The assembly is achieved by pressing the components together between the lid and base.


What is the classification of empty typewriter ribbon cases of plastics? Do these unassembled components constitute incomplete articles, presented unassembled, having the essential character of the complete article and, therefore, classifiable as the article under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 2(a)?


Empty typewriter ribbon cases, although arguably parts or accessories of typewriters within heading 8473, are precluded from classification in that heading by section XVI note 1(c),which excludes spools, reels, and similar supports from classification in section XVI. Although the imported components do not include the spools and spring, the imported components do constitute an incomplete article having the essential character of the complete article (empty typewriter ribbon case) because they include the housing, the drive gears, and the holders for the gears. These components give the article the identifiable shape and the means for supporting the spools and ribbon.

Heading 3923 provides, in part, for articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics. The Explanatory Notes (EN), the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, state that heading 3923 covers all articles of plastics commonly used for "the packing or conveyance of all kinds of products." These articles include "[s]pools . . . and similar supports." This language is merely repetitious and does not shed much light on the meaning of the language in heading 3923: "for the conveyance or packing" of goods. These terms are not limited, and to the extent that they include any type of article in which goods can be packed for shipment and subsequent use, then the terms should be so construed. Some of the other examples given in the EN are "cups without handles" that are used for packing or conveyance of foodstuffs, even though they have a secondary use as tableware or toilet articles. Therefore, the size of the container and the quantity of goods packed and conveyed does not appear to be relevant.

What is relevant, however, is the fact that the named examples are simple containers and would include, for example, the traditional spool for a typewriter ribbon. The ribbon case (cassette) in issue is also a self-contained transport mechanism for use in a typewriter. Therefore, these devices are more than spools and similar containers for the conveyance and packing of goods.

There are no other relevant headings which specifically describe these empty ribbon cases. Therefore, the incomplete articles would be classified as other articles of plastics in heading 3926. Within heading 3926 is subheading 3926.90.83, HTSUSA, which provides for empty cartridges and cassettes for typewriter and machine ribbons.

GRI 2(a) provides that a complete article, or an incomplete article having the essential character of the complete article, may be classified under the heading for the article even though unassembled or disassembled when presented. EN (V) and (VII) to GRI 2(a) provide some guidance:

(V) . . . When goods are so presented, it is usually for reasons such as requirements or convenience of packing, handling or transport.

(VII) . . . "articles presented unassembled or disassembled" means articles the components of which are to be assembled either by means of simple fixing devices . . . provided only simple assembly operations are involved.

The assembly of the plastic cases is a simple assembly. More to the point, assembly cannot reasonably be performed until all the components are available for assembly. The snap-together assembly appears to require this. Therefore, the shipment of sufficient components to make an identifiable number of incomplete typewriter ribbon cases would be classifiable as incomplete, unassembled articles for classification as an article in heading 3926.

Therefore, we conclude that the incomplete, unassembled components for a typewriter ribbon case are classified in subheading 3926.90.83, HTSUSA.


The unassembled components at issue are classified as empty cassettes for typewriter ribbons in subheading 3926.9083, HTSUSA, dutiable at 5.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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