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HQ 951765

September 3, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951765 JED


TARIFF NO.: 4202.99.0000

Assistant District Director
Commercial Operations
U.S. Customs Service
Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport
P.O. Box 619050
Dallas, Texas 75261

RE: Request for further review of protest 5501-92-100111; tool box with tools

Dear sir:

The following is our response to the request for further review of Protest 5501-92-100111, concerning your decision on the classification of a tool box containing tools.


The merchandise involved is a tool box containing assorted hand tools and various implements associated with electrical work. The tool box is of molded plastic and measures approximately 13" long x 7" deep x 5 3/4" high. There is a handle attached to the lid and the box closes by means of a plastic snap lock. Upon opening the box a user is presented with two trays that pivot up and back to permit access to the large bottom compartment. The top swinging tray is divided into eight compartments; the lower one into seven compartments.

The contents of the box are: two slotted screwdrivers; one Phillips head screwdriver; one solder iron stand with sponge; one cutting nipper; one wire stripper; one pliers; one spring clamp; one tweezers; one solder sucker; three insulated handle hand tools; one plastic bodied hand tool with metal tip; one spool of copper colored wire; and one soldering iron.

Entry of the box and contents was attempted with each article separately classified. Customs disagreed with this approach and classified based on treatment of the box and contents as a set with essential character imparted by the plastic tool box. Classification of the box was placed at subheading 4202.99.0000, HTSUSA, which reads, in pertinent part:

4202 Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; Other:
4202.99.0000 Other


What is the proper classification of the tool kit under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the Unites States Annotated?


Classification of goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

GRI 2(b) states in pertinent part, "The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3."

GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to ... part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

Since there is no single tariff provision applicable to both the tool box and its contents and they are instead provided for in several headings of the HTSUSA, GRI 3(b) applies as follows:

(b) ... goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character...

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN's), which are the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, while not legally binding, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's. EN X to GRI 3(b) (pg. 4), provides in part:

(X) For the purposes of this Rule, the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall be taken to mean goods which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings. ...;

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and

(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking (e.g., in boxes or in cases or on boards).

The tool kit at issue here satisfies the criteria of paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). At least two of the articles are classifiable in different headings: the screwdrivers in Heading 8205, HTSUSA, Handtools..., and the solder in Heading 8311, HTSUSA, Wires...of a kind used for soldering. The articles are included in the kit for their utility in working on electrical circuits and they are saleable directly to users in the plastic tool box.

Since the tool kit is a set and classification cannot be made pursuant to GRI 3(a), the essential character of the set must be determined in accordance with GRI 3(b). Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) (pg. 4) states that:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

After due consideration of the matter, it is the opinion of this office that the plastic tool box imparts the essential character of the tool kit. It is the box which serves to organize and store all the other articles. The box is the largest and heaviest component of the set, as well as the most costly, satisfying the bulk, weight and value guidelines mentioned in Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b).

See for example HQ 082736 (March 20, 1990), wherein a knitting and crochet kit consisting of a quilted textile, fold- over case fitted with various craft supplies was classified based
on a determination that the fold-over case imparted the essential character. See also HQ 951261 (May 11, 1992), where a plastic sewing kit box with various sewing related articles was classified upon a determination the plastic box provided the essential character.

It is the determination of this office that the plastic tool box is classifiable in Heading 4202, which reads, in pertinent part, "Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers." See for example HQ 951404 (July 24, 1992) classifying plastic vanity cases made to hold and organize personal quantities of make-up and related items and keep them readily available for moving about with the case's owner in Heading 4202, HTSUSA. The tool boxes are made to hold and organize a personal assortment of items related to electrical work and keep them readily available for moving about with the box's owner.


The subject plastic tool boxes are classifiable in subheading 4202.99.0000, HTSUSA. Such classification currently carries a Column 1 rate of duty of 20% ad valorem.

You are instructed to deny the protest in full. A copy of this ruling should be attached to Customs Form 19, Notice of Action, furnished to the protestant.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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