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HQ 952216

February 8, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 952216 ch


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.3030

Timothy Bumb
Fact Games, Limited
1590 Berryessa Road
San Jose, CA 95133

RE: Modification of NYRL 874611; Classification of "Flip Top" Halloween containers in heading 4202.92.3030 travel or traveling bag; handbag; tote bag; not festive articles of heading 9505; not other made up articles of heading 6307.

Dear Mr. Bumb:

This is in response to your letter of July 2, 1992, requesting reconsideration of NYRL 874611. In that ruling, Customs classified certain halloween trick-or-treat containers as handbags under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The samples submitted relate to items described as "Flip Tops," which are manufactured in Thailand. "Flip Tops" are caricatures which represent the heads of various halloween figures such as Jack-O-Lanterns, Monsters, Elves and Snowmen. The heads are hollow and have removable tops, which are secured by means of hook and loop closures. "Flip Tops" are constructed of synthetic fabric, with small amounts of synthetic cut plush pile used for hair. They also feature textile handles for carrying or hanging which are secured at the sides.

You indicate that "Flip Tops" will be used primarily as containers for candy and gifts given to children, and as table- top decorations. They are to be displayed at grocery and variety retailers near Halloween candy and costume displays. Descriptive literature refers to the items as "carry-alls" in various contexts.

What is the applicable tariff classification for the articles in question?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied in order.

You contend that "Flip Tops" are properly classified under Subheading 9505.90.6090, HTSUSA, festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, other, other.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While not legally binding, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN when interpreting the HTSUSA.

The EN to Heading 9505 provide, in pertinent part:

This 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, colored balls, bells, lanterns, etc. Cake and other decorations (e.g., animals, flags) which are traditionally associated with a particular festival are also classified here.

(2) Articles traditionally used at Christmas festivities, e.g., artificial Christmas trees (these are sometimes of the folding type), nativity scenes, Christmas crackers,
Christmas stockings, imitation yule logs.

In the past, Customs has interpreted this language to mean that articles classifiable in heading 9505 tend to have no function other than decoration. See HRL 087715, HRL 087365, HRL 087105, HRL 087147, HRL 082060. More recently, we have stated that a festive article must function primarily as a decoration (i.e., its primary function is not utilitarian). See HRL 952249, HRL 089147.

In this case, you advise us that the articles in question may be used as containers for candy and gifts. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the articles possess a cavity for holding candy and other items. Moreover, the articles feature carrying handles and removable tops which suggest that they will be used to transport their contents from place to place. This inference is supported by the fact that the descriptive literature accompanying the goods refer to them as "carry alls." Since the articles are manufactured for sale during the halloween season, we conclude that these articles are used to transport candy and other items children receive from trick or treating. We also find that this utilitarian purpose is at least as important as its decorative function. It follows that the subject merchandise cannot be classified as festive articles under heading 9505.

In the alternative, you argue that the subject items are properly classified under heading 6307.90, other made up articles...other. However, the EN to heading 6307 provide:

This heading covers made up articles of any textile material which are not included more specifically in other headings of Section XI or elsewhere in the Nomenclature. (Emphasis in original).

We conclude that the instant articles are more specifically described under heading 4202.

Heading 4202 provides, inter alia, for handbags and similar containers. In HRL 084426 we stated that:

[T]he only absolute requirement of a handbag is that it be held in the hand or hung by an arm/shoulder strap. This is true of the merchandise at issue. The size and sturdiness of these bags is more than sufficient for daily transport of personal effects.

"Flip Tops" can be held by the hand and transport personal effects. Although we recognize that candy and other halloween items are not the sort of personal effects which are normally found in a women's handbag, this does not preclude the classification of the subject merchandise in Heading 4202.

Additional U.S. Note 1 to Section XI, HTSUSA, states:

For the purposes of heading 4202, the expression "travel, sports and similar bags" means goods, other than those falling in subheadings 4202.11 through 4202.39, of a kind designed for carrying clothing and other personal effects during travel, including backpacks and shopping bags of this heading, but does not include binocular cases, musical instrument cases, bottle cases and similar containers.

In HRL 951113 we stated:

By specifically including shopping bags of this heading [Heading 4202] within the broad category of goods designed for carrying personal effects during travel, it is clear Congress...did not intend for the "travel, sports and similar bags" provision to encompass only those bags sufficiently sturdy as to withstand the rigors of travel that conventional luggage is designed to meet.

In that ruling, we held that shopping bags were "travel bags" within the scope of Heading 4202.

Similarly, we find that the subject articles meet the criteria for a "travel bag," as they are designed for carrying personal effects during travel; i.e. trick-or-treating. Their use as storage or decorative items are secondary to this primary function. Accordingly, "Flip Tops" are properly classifiable as travel bags under Heading 4202.


The products marketed as "Flip Tops" are properly classifiable under subheading 4202.92.3030, HTSUSA, which provides for traveling bags, other, with outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials, travel, sports and similar bags, other, other, other. The applicable rate of duty is 20 percent ad valorem, and the textile quota category is 670.

This notice to you should be considered a modification of NYRL 874611 under 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1). It is not to be applied retroactively to NYRL 874611 (19 CFR 177.9(d)(2)) and will not, therefore, affect past transactions for the importation of your client's merchandise under that ruling. However, for the purposes of future transactions in merchandise of this type, NYRL 874611 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected by this modification, in that current contracts for importations arriving at a port subsequent to this decision will be classified pursuant to it. If such a situation arises, your client may, at its discretion, notify this office and apply for relief from the binding effects of this decision as may be warranted by the circumstances. However, please be advised that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.


John Durant, Director

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