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HQ 953696

August 26, 1993

CLA-2; CO:R:C:T 953696 ch


TARIFF NO.: 4202.99.9000

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
477 Michigan Avenue
Patrick V. McNamara Building
Room 200
Detroit, Michigan 48226-2568

Dear Sir:

RE: Application for further review of Protest No. 3801-2- XXXXXX under 19 U.S.C., section 1514(c)(2); classification of molded plastic tool boxes and a molded plastic fishing tackle box; specially shaped or internally fitted requirement applicable to tool boxes after July 1, 1992.

Dear Sir:

The above-referenced protest was forwarded to this office for further review. We have considered the classification issues raised in the protest and our decision follows.

Please be advised that a ruling addressing the marking issue will be forwarded to you under separate cover.


Submitted for our examination are three samples composed of molded plastic. The first sample is a tool box, designated as "Tool-Aid" model T1311. It measures approximately 13 1/2 inches by 7 1/4 inches by 7 inches, and features a top plastic handle and a front locking latch. The interior contains a tray which may be raised by means of a movable bracket. Removable dividers have been placed inside the tray, creating compartments suitable for holding screws, nails, nuts, bolts and other miscellaneous articles. Beneath the tray is a cavity which has not been molded or fitted so as to hold a particular tool(s).

The second sample is a single sided tool box, "Tool-Aid" model T1501. It measures approximately 14 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches by 3 inches, and possesses a plastic carrying handle. The tool box is closed by means of two locking latches. Removable plastic dividers have been placed inside the box, which create up to 25 square and rectangular compartments. The compartments may be used to hold screws, nails and other miscellaneous articles, but are not designed and fitted to hold particular tools.

The third sample is a tackle box, "Tackle-Mate" model F1312. It measures approximately 13 1/2 inches by 7 1/4 inches by 7 inches, and possesses a top plastic handle and a front locking latch. The interior contains two trays which may be raised by means of a movable bracket. The trays have both permanent and removable dividers, which form compartments of a size suitable for holding lures, hooks and other accessories for recreational fishing. An empty cavity is located beneath the trays.

The merchandise which is the subject of this protest was entered on December 16, 1991, under heading 3923, HTSUSA. However, these items were liquidated on April 24, 1992, under subheading 4202.99.0000, HTSUSA.


What are the proper tariff classifications for the subject tool and tackle boxes?


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.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for:

Trunks, Suit-Cases, Vanity-Cases, Executive-Cases, Briefcases, School Satchels, Spectacle Cases, Binocular Cases, Camera Cases, Musical Instrument Cases, Gun Cases, Holsters and Similar Containers; Travelling- Bags, Toilet Bags, Rucksacks, Handbags, Shopping-Bags, Wallets, Purses, Map-Cases, Cigarette-Cases, Tobacco- Pouches, Tool Bags, Sports Bags, Bottle-Cases, Jewellery Boxes, Powder-Boxes, Cutlery Cases and Similar Containers, of Leather or of Composition Leather, of Sheeting of Plastics, of Textile Materials, of Vulcanised Fibre or of Paperboard, or Wholly or Mainly Covered with Such Materials or With Paper. (Emphasis added).

This heading is divided into two parts by means of a semi-colon.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature 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 4202, at page 613, state that articles covered by the first part of the heading may be of any material, while articles covered by the second part of the heading must be wholly or mainly covered with the materials specified therein. The instant merchandise is composed of molded plastic, which is a material not specified in the second part of the heading. Therefore, in order to be classified in heading 4202 the subject tool and tackle boxes must be containers similar to one or more of the articles specified in the first part of the heading.

Prior to July 1, 1992, we held that tool boxes were containers which were similar to the articles specified in the first half of heading 4202. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 084717, dated September 13, 1989; HRL 084605, dated August 24, 19899; HRL 083005, dated June 30, 1989. In each of these decisions, we concluded that the first part of heading 4202 encompassed:

[C]ontainers or cases which are designed to hold specific items which give them their names: brief cases to hold papers, school bags to hold school articles, golf bags to hold golf equipment, gun cases to hold guns, camera cases to hold cameras. Citing DRI Industries, Inc. v. United States, 657 F.Supp. 528 (CIT 1987), aff'd, Appeal No. 87-1301 (Fed. Cir., decided October 28, 1987).

As tool boxes are so named because they are designed to hold tools and tool accessories, they were classified in heading 4202. The instant tool boxes were entered prior to July 1, 1992. Therefore, they are also classifiable under heading 4202.

We note that on July 1, 1992, the Customs Cooperation Council's Harmonized System Committee issued a revision to the Explanatory Notes to heading 4202. This revision, at page 613, provides that the heading does not cover:

(f) Tool boxes or cases, not specially shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools with or without their accessories (generally, heading 39.26 or 73.26).

Accordingly, we have held that tool boxes entered after July 1, 1992, must be shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools in order to be classified in heading 4202. See HRL 953358, dated June 8, 1993; HRL 953904, dated May 13, 1993.

Although the instant tool boxes contain compartments which are suitable for holding various miscellaneous articles, they are not shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools. Therefore, entries of styles T1311 and T1501 after July 1, 1992 should be classified in heading 3926, which provides for other articles of plastic.

We have also have also concluded that molded plastic tackle boxes are classified in heading 4202. See HRL 951738, dated August 11, 1992. In HRL 951738, we found that tackle boxes were designed to contain personal items for travel over short distances, which precluded the merchandise from being classified under heading 3923. In addition, the EN to heading 4202 impose no requirement that tackle boxes be specially shaped or internally fitted to hold specific merchandise; i.e. the exclusion cited above refers only to tool boxes, not other similar containers. Hence, past and future entries of style F1312 remain classifiable under heading 4202.

The protestant directs our attention to HRL 082988, dated February 20, 1990. The merchandise at issue in HRL 082988 were certain rigid cylindrical containers with domed lids, designed to contain dusting powder. These articles bear little resemblance to the instant merchandise. In addition, HRL 082988 has no precedential value in this case, as the rulings cited above specifically address the classification of tool and tackle boxes.

Protestant also cites HRL 082304 for the proposition that heading 4202 is limited in scope to containers designed primarily for the transport of personal items during travel. Customs no longer adheres to the view that heading 4202 is limited to containers used for travel purposes.


Therefore, based on the foregoing discussion, this protest should be denied in full. The subject tool and tackle boxes are classifiable under subheading 4202.99.9000, which provides for other containers of heading 4202. A copy of this decision should be attached to the CF 19 Notice of Action to satisfy the notice requirement of section 174.30(a), Customs Regulations.


John A. Durant, Director

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