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HQ 953264

March 30, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953264 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 8505.19.00

L. Klestadt, President
Trans-World Shipping Corp.
53 Park Place
New York, NY 10007

RE: Magnets; household ceramic magnets; permanent magnets; EN 85.05; GRI 3(b); essential character; household plastic goods; hook magnets; ENs VIII and IX to GRI 3(b)

Dear Mr. Klestadt:

This is in response to your letter dated January 12, 1993, on behalf of Hoan Products, Ltd., inquiring as to the tariff classification of household magnets under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise consist of magnets of barium ferrite attached to various plastic articles. One magnet is attached to the back of a plastic decoration which depicts the "Pillsbury Doughboy" and the statement "Nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven" ("Pillsbury Memo Magnet"). The other magnet is attached to the back of a plastic hook ("hook magnet") from which to hang other small, light articles. Both articles use the magnet to attach to a refrigerator, oven, or other metallic surface.


Are magnets attached to other articles for household use classifiable in chapter 85 as magnets under the HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS 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 relative section or chapter notes.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed.Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). EN 85.05, page 1340-1341, states in pertinent part:

Permanent magnets consist of pieces of hard steel, special alloys or other materials (e.g., barium ferrite agglomerated with plastics or synthetic rubber) which have been rendered permanently magnetic. Their shape varies according to the use for which they are designed. . . . Permanent magnets remain classified here whatever their use, including small magnets used, inter alia, as toys.

Articles intended to become permanent magnets after magnetisation are recognisable as such by their shape and composition, generally being cubes or discs (tags) of metal or of agglomerated ferrite (e.g., barium ferrite).

The Pillsbury Memo Magnet and the hook magnet are to be considered composite goods, because they each consist of a magnet and a plastic component. The subject goods are prima facie classifiable in heading 8505, HTSUS, as a magnet and in heading 3924, HTSUS, as an article of plastic. Because classification in a single heading cannot be determined by applying GRI 1, we must apply the other GRI's. GRI 2(a) is not applicable here because the merchandise is not incomplete or unfinished. GRI 2(b) states that if a product is a mixture or combination of materials or substances that are, prima facie, classifiable in two or more headings, then GRI 3 applies.

GRI 3(a) states in pertinent part:

. . .when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods . . ., 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.

Because the magnet and the plastic "housing" fall under separate headings in the tariff schedule which describe only a portion of the goods, the headings are to be regarded as equally specific under GRI 3(a). Therefore, GRI 3(a) fails in establishing classification, and GRI 3(b) becomes applicable. GRI 3(b) provides that composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character.

EN IX to GRI 3(b), page 4, states as follows:

[f]or the purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts. (emphasis in original)

Because the subject articles are composite goods, we must determine which component provides the essential character. EN VIII to GRI 3(b), page 4, states as follows:

[t]he 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.

In the case of the Pillsbury Memo Magnet and the hook magnet, we find that the essential character is imparted by the permanent magnet. Removal of the magnet from the article would leave the product totally incapable of functioning as a magnetic memo holder for metallic surfaces. The plastic portion merely embellishes the product and acts as a decorative selling feature, but has no effect on the ability of the magnet to perform its intended function. Based upon the GRI 3(b) and the above reasoning, we find that the Pillsbury Memo Magnet and the hook magnet are provided for in heading 8505, HTSUS, as a permanent magnet.


The Pillsbury Memo Magnet and the hook magnet are classifiable under subheading 8505.19.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[e]lectromagnets; permanent magnets and articles intended to become permanent magnets after magnetization. . .: [p]ermanent magnets and articles intended to become permanent magnets after magnetization: [o]ther. . . ." The general, column one rate of duty is 4.9 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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