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HQ 954659

November 19, 1994
CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 954659 MMC


TARIFF NO.: 9615.11.30

Regional Commissioner of Customs c/o Protest and Control Section
6 World Trade Center, Rm 761
New York, New York 10048-0945

RE: Protest No. 1001-92-106475; Combination cosmetic comb/brush; 9603.30.40; GRI 3; HQ 953537

Dear Regional Commissioner:

The following is our decision regarding the request for further review of Protest No. 1001-92-106475, concerning your action in classifying and assessing duty on a combination cosmetic comb/brush under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The subject article, referred to as item 69G, is a combination cosmetic comb and brush intended to be used on the face as a groomer for eyelashes and eyebrows.

The merchandise was entered under subheading 9603.30.40, HTSUS, as brushes for the application of cosmetics. However, the entry was liquidated on October 9, 1992, under subheading 9615.11.30, HTSUS, as a comb. The protest was timely filed October 22, 1992.

The subheadings under consideration are as follows:

9603.30.40 [b]rooms, brushes (including brushes constituting parts of machines, appliances or vehicles), hand- operated mechanical floor sweepers, not motorized, mops and feather dusters; prepared knots and tufts for broom or brush making; paint pads and rollers; squeegees (other than roller squeegees):
[a]rtists' brushes, writing brushes, and similar brushes for the application of cosmetics: [v]alued over 5 cents but not over 10 cents each

The general column one rate of duty for this subheading is 0.3 cents each.

9615.11.30 [c]ombs, hair-slides and the like; hairpins, curling pins, curling grips, hair-curlers and the like, other than those of heading 8516, and parts thereof: [c]ombs, hair-slides, and the like: [o]f hard rubber or plastics: [c]ombs: [v]alued over $4.50 per gross: [o]ther

The general column one rate of duty for this subheading is 28.8 cents/gross + 4.6% ad valorem.


Whether the combination brush/comb is classifiable as a brush or a comb?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1, HTSUS, states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Protestant argues that heading 9603, HTSUS, is the only heading which describes the merchandise. Further, heading 9615, HTSUS, only describes combs used on hair.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be consulted. The Explanatory Notes (EN), although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128, (August 23, 1989). EN 96.15, pg.1611, states, in pertinent part that:

[t]his heading covers:

(1) Toilet combs of all kinds, including combs for animals.

Inasmuch as the combination brush/comb is described by two headings, it cannot be classified according to GRI 1.

GRI 2(a) is inapplicable because it applies to incomplete or unfinished articles, and the combination brush/comb is imported in a finished complete condition. GRI 2(b) states, in pertinent part, that any reference in a heading to a material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to mixtures or combinations of that material or substance with other materials or substances. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of GRI 3.

GRI 3 states that 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 materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or 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.

Protestant argues that the combination comb/brush is more specifically described by heading 9603, HTSUS, because it provides for cosmetic brushes while heading 9615, HTSUS, provides for combs generally. We disagree. These two headings both refer to only a part of the composite article; one to the cosmetic brush portion and one to the comb portion. Therefore, the headings are considered equally specific and GRI 3(b) must be examined.

GRI 3(b) states:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up 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, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

According to EN GR 3, pg.4, 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.

Protestant states that the article has two parts and may be considered 50% comb and 50% brush. We agree. Because neither the comb nor the brush constitute the articles essential character, GRI 3(c) must be applied.

GRI 3(c) states:

When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

The heading which appears last in numerical order is heading 9615, HTSUS. Therefore, the combination brush/comb is classifiable in heading 9615, HTSUS, specifically, subheading 9615.11.30, HTSUS.

See Headquarters Ruling Letter 953537 dated June 16, 1993, which held that a combination comb/brush, which was an individual component packaged with others and put up for retail sale as the "Looks Good Cosmetics Caddy", was classifiable in subheading 6915.11.30, HTSUS.


For the foregoing reasons we find that the combination brush/comb is classifiable in subheading 9615.11.30, HTSUS, as a comb.

In accordance with Section 3A (11)(b) of Customs Directive 0993550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Ruling Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings

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