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HQ 086094

March 16, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086094 SLR


TARIFF NO.: 4202.22.8030

Mr. Sam I. Isaacson
Chairman of the Board
The Gem Group, Inc.
20 Locust Street
Danvers, MA 01923

RE: Tote Bags

Dear Mr. Isaacson:

This ruling is in response to your letter of November 8, 1989, requesting the proper classification of cotton tote bags under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were provided for our examination.


The five sample tote bags have the following approximate dimensions:

(3) Style No. 124 -- 14-1/2" x 13-1/2" (No gusset)

None of the bags has inside or outside pockets nor are they lined or reinforced. Style numbers 103 and 128 have snap closures; the rest of the bags have open tops.

On March 19, 1986, you requested a TSUSA classification for cotton tote bags very similar to the ones at issue. In HRL 078301 of June 25, 1986, this office classified those articles as handbags of textile materials, of cotton in item 706.3640, Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA). We also enclosed a copy of HRL 073827 of May 3, 1984, which set forth "Guidelines for Determining the Scope of the Luggage Provisions of the Tariff Schedules."

After the implementation of the Harmonized System, the tote bags continued to enter the United States as "handbags." In September of 1989, our Boston office reclassified a shipment of the tote bags as luggage, thus altering visa requirements. Upon request, a temporary stay was imposed upon the reclassification of the bags.

In your letter, you maintain that the subject tote bags are classifiable as handbags under the HTSUSA. You ask that Customs reaffirm HRL 078301 and renew under the Harmonized Code the classification guidelines set forth in HRL 073827.


Whether the subject tote bags are classifiable as handbags or luggage under the HTSUSA.


Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for:

Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels . . . and similar containers; traveling bags . . . handbags . . . sports bags . . . and similar containers of textile materials . . . .

It is our determination that the subject tote bags qualify as handbags. The overall appearance of each bag fails to exhibit a dedication for use as a travel accessory. The design and construction of these bags suggests that they are handbags, not traveling bags. The subject tote bags function primarily as secondary handbags used to carry various objects which do not fit into a woman's regular handbag.

HRL 073827 provides certain criteria for determining whether tote bags are classifiable as handbags or luggage. As that ruling itself indicates, however, "These guidelines are only guidelines. They are not intended to be rigid criteria."

Size is not dispositive of classification. The design and construction of a bag must be considered. The HRL 073827 guidelines are helpful, but the facts and circumstances must be weighed in each instance.


The tote bags are classifiable in subheading 4202.22.8030, HTSUSA, which provides for handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handles, with outer surface of textile materials, other, other, other, of cotton, textile category 369, dutiable at 20 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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