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HQ 953688

August 26, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 953688 BC


TARIFF NO.: 4202.99.1000

Peter J. Fitch, Esq.
116 John Street
New York, New York 10038

RE: Classification of jewelry boxes used in the retail sale of jewelry; plastic jewelry boxes covered with paper; suitable for long term use

Dear Mr. Fitch:

This responds to your letter of March 17, 1993, wherein you requested a binding ruling on the classification of two jewelry boxes used in the retail sale of jewelry.


Box 1 is a hinged lidded box in the shape of an octagon. It is constructed of plastic that is covered with paper, and it measures 1 and 7/16 inches in height. Inside the box is a textile covered foam insert that is slotted for insertion of a ring or other piece of jewelry. The interior of the lid is lined with textile material. Box 2 also is made of paper covered plastic. It is heart shaped and measures 3/4 of an inch across and 1 and 1/2 inches in height. It has a removable lid that is lined with a cardboard insert. The bottom contains a foam support covered by a cardboard insert that is slotted to hold a piece of jewelry. Both boxes are used in the retail sale of jewelry.


What is the proper classification for the jewelry boxes at issue?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining rules will be applied in sequential order.

The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System assist us in the classification of merchandise. The EN's constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. While not legally binding, they represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN's when interpreting the HTSUS. In Treasury Decision (T.D.) 89-80, Customs stated that the EN's should always be consulted as guidance when classifying merchandise. (See T.D. 89-80, quoting from a report of the Joint Committee on the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, endorsing use of the EN's in the classification of goods. 23 Cust. Bull. 379 (1989), 54 Fed. Reg. 35,127 (August 23, 1989).)

The EN for heading 42.02, HTSUS, in pertinent part, provides the following:

The term "jewellery boxes" covers not only boxes specially designed for keeping jewellery [the ordinary kind], but also similar lidded containers of various dimensions (with or without hinges or fasteners) specially shaped or fitted to contain one or more pieces of jewellery and normally lined with textile material, of the type in which articles of jewellery are presented and sold and which are suitable for long term use.

You contend that Box 1 is classifiable as a jewelry box under subheading 4202.99.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), in accordance with the above EN. You further contend that Box 2 is classifiable as a box made of plastic under subheading 3923.10.0000, HTSUSA, since it does not meet the "suitable for long term use" standard of the above EN. The issue therefore has to do with the meaning of the phrase "suitable for long term use" as set forth in the EN.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 951028, we classified jewelry boxes similar to those at issue here. Jewelry boxes of this general type - that is, those used in the retail sale of jewelry and other items - are usually made of plastic, paperboard, or metal and are covered with a decorative textile material or paper. Some are more expensive than others, depending on the quality of the materials used.

In HRL 951028, we found that customers often keep these jewelry boxes to store the item purchased. Also, we found that jewelry boxes of this kind are generally made of sufficiently sturdy construction to perform this protective storage function. We did not set a standard in length of time that a jewelry box would have to be capable of lasting in order to be considered suitable for long term use. Instead, it is our view that a jewelry box that is durable enough, or otherwise adequately constructed, to provide protective storage will be considered suitable for long term use. The samples examined in the instant case, if used with ordinary care, are capable of providing protective storage and of being used repeatedly. Thus, they are suitable for long term use. While Box 1 is of sturdier construction than Box 2, Box 2 is adequately constructed to provide protective storage over a prolonged period.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that both Box 1 and Box 2 are classifiable, under GRI 1, as jewelry boxes of the kind described in the above EN.


The paper covered jewelry boxes at issue, used in the retail sale of jewelry, are classifiable as jewelry boxes under subheading 4202.99.1000, HTSUSA: " [J]ewelry boxes . . . of leather or of composition leather, of sheeting of plastics, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper: Other: Other: Of materials (other than leather, composition leather, sheeting of plastics, textile materials, vulcanized fiber or paperboard) wholly or mainly covered with paper: Of plastics." The applicable duty rate is 3.4 per cent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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