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HQ 952042

September 23, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952042 LPF


TARIFF NO.: 3924.90.10

Ms. Mona Webster
Target Stores
33 South Sixth Street
P.O. Box 1392
Minneapolis, MN 55440-1392

RE: Boo Doormat; Heading 3924, HTSUSA, as household article of plastic; Not 9505 festive article, not 8519 sound reproducing apparatus, not 8543 electrical apparatus; EN 85.43 (13), EN to 9208; HRL 088207, 950236, 081831, 087316.

Dear Ms. Webster:

This is in response to your letter of May 25, 1992 submitted on behalf of Target Stores. Your inquiry requests the proper classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of a "Boo Doormat," style #10713. You submitted a sample with your request for a binding ruling.


The "Boo Doormat," imported from Hong Kong, is approximately 11 inches in length by 16 inches in width. When stepped on, it says the words, "Trick or Treat" and emits an eerie sound. The mat has an upper plastic surface depicting ghosts, a haunted house, bats, a tombstone and the words trick or treat. Other styles depict pumpkins and witches. The bottom of the mat consists of two plastic layers. The outer portion has a slight textured effect. Recessed into the double bottom layer, and accessible from the outside, is a combination battery compartment and on/off switch. A layer of 3/4 inch thick plastic foam is embedded between the printed upper layer and the double bottom layer. A cut out section in the foam holds the voice module. The voice module, which is wired to the battery compartment and a pressure switch, appears to contain a speaker and a printed circuit board with a prerecorded integrated circuit chip. The pressure switch is a small disk device that is glued to the underside of the printed upper layer. Stepping on the center of the mat activates the voice. The printed upper layer and the double bottom layer are sealed together at their edges.


Whether the doormat is classifiable in 9505 as a festive article, in 8519 as an other sound reproducing apparatus, in 8543 as an electrical apparatus or in 3924 as an other household article of plastic.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in their appropriate order provide a framework for classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA. The majority of imported 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. 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.

Heading 9505, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, festive, carnival and other entertainment articles. The EN's to 9505 indicate that the heading covers:

(A) Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, which in view of their intended use are generally made of non- durable material. They include:

(1) Decorations such as festoons, garlands, Chinese lanterns, etc., as well as various decorative articles made of paper, metal foil, glass fibre, etc., for Christmas trees (e.g., tinsel, stars, icicles), artificial snow, coloured balls, bells, lanterns, etc. Cake and other decorations (e.g., animals, flags) which are traditionally associated with a particular festival are also classified here.

In general, merchandise is classifiable in heading 9505, HTSUSA, as a festive article when the article, as a whole:

1. is of non-durable material or, generally, is not purchased because of its extreme worth, or intrinsic value (e.g., paper, cardboard, metal foil, glass fiber, plastic, wood);

2. functions primarily as a decoration (e.g., its primary function is not utilitarian); and

3. is traditionally associated or used with a particular festival (e.g., stockings and tree ornaments for Christmas, decorative eggs for Easter).

An article's satisfaction of these three criteria is indicative of classification as a festive article. The motif of an article is not dispositive of its classification and, consequently, does not transform an item into a festive article.

First, the doormat is made of non-durable material. Customs will consider an article, such as the doormat, to be made of non- durable material since it is not designed for sustained wear and tear, nor is purchased because of its extreme worth or value (as would be the case with a decorative, yet costly, piece of art or crystal).

Next, the article's primary function is decorative, as opposed to, utilitarian. It is apparent the doormat serves no useful function besides its role as a decoration. The mat is not designed to enable individuals to wipe their feet on it, nor can it sustain this type of activity for even a limited time period.

However, when examining the doormat, as a whole, it is evident that the article is not traditionally associated or used with the particular festival of Halloween. Although the mat is printed with a Halloween motif depicting ghosts, a haunted house, etc., along with the words trick or treat, this design will not transform the mat into a festive article. The article, in its entirety, must be traditionally associated or used with a particular festival. The mat is not akin to those articles cited in the EN's to 9505, as exemplars of traditional festive articles. See Headquarters' Ruling Letters (HRL's) 088207, issued June 4, 1991 and 950236, issued June 29, 1992.

Since the doormat is not classifiable at the GRI 1 level in the festive article provision, or elsewhere in the HTSUSA, we are directed by the GRI's to turn to GRI 3(a) to classify the article in one of the separate HTSUSA headings providing either for the article's electronic module (e.g., heading 8519 or 8543) or plastic doormat component (e.g., heading 3924). GRI 3(a) explains, in pertinent part, that goods which are classifiable under two or more headings are classified under the heading which provides the most specific description of the good. However, all such headings are regarded as equally specific when each refers to only part of the goods.

Each of the possible headings, in this case, refers to only part of the good. Since the headings are, thus, regarded as equally specific, we do not classify the article by GRI 3(a) but rather by GRI 3(b).

GRI 3(b) provides that articles made up of different components, that is, composite goods, shall be classified as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. "Essential character" is the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is. EN VIII to GRI 3(b) explains that bulk, quantity, weight, value or the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the article are indicia of essential character.

The doormat is not designed to sustain significant wear and tear and, based on its design, appears to function primarily as a decoration. In addition to being placed outside the home, the mat is likely to be placed in other locations in which it will be quite visible, such as inside the owner's home (in front of the door) or in doorways between various rooms of the home during parties.

The plastic doormat component imparts the essential character of the article. Not only is the merchandise marketed as a doormat, but the doormat component provides the bulk of the article, enabling it to function as a decorative household doormat. The electronic module merely provides a unique, albeit unnecessary, feature to the doormat, without which the article would still function.

Although EN 85.43 (13) indicates that the heading includes electronic musical modules, we note that musical mechanisms are also mentioned in the EN's to the music box provision, 9208. The EN's to 9208 state that articles which incorporate a musical mechanism but which are essentially utilitarian or ornamental in function, and articles such as wrist watches, cups and greeting cards containing electronic musical modules, are all classified in the same headings as the corresponding articles not incorporating such modules. This language further indicates that the plastic doormat component imparts the essential character of the article. Customs has adhered to this position in HRL 950236, issued June 29, 1992, where doormats with electronic musical modules were classified in the provision for household articles of plastic; in HRL 081831, issued May 17, 1989, where musical greeting cards were classified in the provision for printed cards; and in HRL 087316, issued July 9, 1990, where a decorative pillow incorporating a music box was classified in the provision for other made up textile articles.

Customs finds this article similar to the doormats of HRL 950236. Accordingly, this doormat is classifiable in the heading providing for its plastic doormat component, 3924, and in its appropriate subheading, 3924.90.10.


The "Boo Doormat" is classifiable in subheading 3924.90.10, HTSUSA as, "Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of plastics: Other:...; and like furnishings." The general column one rate of duty is 3.36 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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