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HQ 954706

February 1, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954706 BC


TARIFF NO.: 6307.90.9986

Jan P. Brown
OroAmerica, Inc.
443 N Varney Street
Burbank, CA 91504

RE: Classification of paperboard lidded boxes covered with textile materials or with textile materials and plastic beads; trinket boxes; decorative boxes used in sale of jewelry

Dear Ms. Brown:

This responds to a your letter of July 23, 1993, wherein you requested a classification ruling for various decorative boxes. We have reviewed the matter and our decision follows.


The merchandise at issue are decorative boxes consisting of a paperboard frame covered with textile materials. We have examined two samples that are representative of the boxes at issue. One is heart shaped and measures 3 1/2 inches at its widest part. It measures 1 1/2 inches in height with its (unhinged) lid on. The lid and bottom section are covered with textile material inside and out. The interior bottom and exterior lid are cushioned with foam. The exterior lid is partially covered with plastic beads arranged in a decorative pattern. The other box is in the shape of a pentagon. It is 2 inches wide at its widest part. It measures 1 1/2 inches in height with its fabric-hinged lid closed. It too is covered inside and out with textile material. The interior bottom, the interior lid and the exterior lid are cushioned. There are no plastic beads.

The importer explained that these and similar boxes are used in the sale of its jewelry products to retailers. An item of jewelry, such as a chain, bracelet, pendant, ring, earring, etc., is placed inside a box, and boxes containing jewelry are shipped to their customers who sell them at retail. There are no inserts for these boxes. The item of jewelry is placed inside the box and rests on the cushioned interior. After purchase by the consumer from the retailer, the box can be used to store the jewelry or other items. It could also be used as a decorative article.


What is the proper classification for the decorative 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).) (See also Totes, Inc. v. United States, No. 91-09-00714, slip op. 92-153 (CIT September 4, 1992), 26 Cust. Bull. No. 40, 35, 37 n. 3 (September 30, 1992), citing T.D. 89-80 and acknowledging the authority of the EN's.)

Under GRI 1, consideration is given to the tariff provision for containers of heading 4202, HTSUSA. This heading covers:

Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; travelling bags, toiletry bags, knapsacks and backpacks, handbags, shopping bags, wallets, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches, tool bags, sports bags, bottle cases, jewelry boxes, powder cases, cutlery cases and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of plastic sheeting, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 953393, dated April 16, 1993, we classified a box substantially similar to those at issue here (except for the plastic beads) as other made up textile articles under subheading 6307.90.9986, HTSUSA, concluding that they were more like trinket boxes than jewelry boxes of heading 4202, HTSUSA. The lidded box there classified was constructed of cardboard and covered with textile material. It was in the shape of a pentagon and measured 2 1/2 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches in height. In that ruling, classification in heading 4202, HTSUSA, was ruled out since the boxes were not specially designed, shaped or fitted to hold jewelry. Thus, we concluded that the boxes were not jewelry boxes of the ordinary kind, nor of the kind described in the following EN to heading 42.02:

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.

In HRL 951028, dated March 3, 1993, we held that various boxes used in the retail sale of jewelry and similar items were jewelry boxes of the kind described in the above EN. The boxes there classified differ from the boxes classified in HRL 953393 because they were specially shaped or fitted to contain jewelry and they were in fact used in the presentation and/or sale of such items, whereas in 953393 they were not sold with jewelry but were sold as boxes for various uses limited only by the imagination of the ultimate consumer and the physical dimensions of the box.

The boxes presently under consideration are similar to those we have described in previous rulings (such as HRL 953393) as "trinket boxes." Trinket boxes are not specially designed, shaped or fitted for jewelry. They are not specially constructed to fit any particular item, but can be used to store various items including jewelry. (In addition to HRL 953393, April 16, 1993, see: HRL 952566, December 12, 1992; HRL 876018, July 22, 1992; and HRL 872453, April 7, 1992.) The only difference between trinket boxes we have classified in the past and the boxes at issue here is that the latter boxes are being used in the sale of jewelry. In every other respect, the boxes at issue here are so-called trinket boxes. They are not normally used in the retail sale of jewelry.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the sample boxes are of a class or kind used as trinket boxes. To reiterate, trinket boxes are boxes used for general purposes that are not specially shaped or fitted to hold jewelry. In other words, they are not the kind of boxes classified as jewelry boxes in HRL 951028, but are the kind of boxes classified in HRL 953393 (and other rulings cited above) as other articles of textile materials. That this importer chooses to use them in the sale of jewelry does not alter this conclusion.

Since the boxes at issue are trinket boxes, they are not classifiable, according to GRI 1, as jewelry boxes or similar containers under heading 4202, HTSUSA. No other tariff provision provides explicitly for the boxes; therefore, they are classifiable by application of GRI 3, since GRI 2 directs that "goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be classified according to the principles of rule 3." The materials present in the sample boxes are cardboard and textile fabric, in the one instance, and cardboard, textile material and plastic in the other instance. Under GRI 3(a), the following is provided:

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.

The applicable headings are 3926, HTSUS, covering other articles of plastics, 4823, HTSUS, covering other articles of paperboard, and 6307, HTSUS, covering other articles of textile materials. Here, as in HRL 953393, the applicable headings refer only to a part of the materials comprising the article, heading 3926, HTSUSA, to plastic materials, heading 4823, HTSUSA, to paperboard and heading 6307, HTSUSA, to textile material. Therefore, they are considered to be equally specific, rendering classification on the basis of specificity (GRI 3(a)) inapplicable.

Under GRI 3(b), articles composed of two or more materials are classified according to essential character. That is, the article will be considered to consist of the material that imparts its essential character. Here, the paperboard provides the structure for the box, but the textile fabric and the plastic beads provide aesthetic appeal and marketability. As in HRL 953393, considering the nature of the boxes at issue, we are unable to conclude that any one of the component materials imparts the essential character. Therefore, we must proceed to GRI 3(c).

Under GRI 3(c), the following is provided: "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." Under this rule, the boxes at issue are classifiable under heading 6307, HTSUSA. (See also 953634, September 10, 1993, for a similar conclusion.)


The paperboard boxes covered with textile fabric and textile fabric with plastic beads are classifiable under subheading 6307.90.9986, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up textile articles, including dress patterns: other: other: other: other: other. The applicable rate of duty is 7% ad valorem.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


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