United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1994 HQ Rulings > HQ 0954754 - HQ 0954853 > HQ 0954815

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 954815

January 31, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954815 BC


TARIFF NO.: 4417.00.8090; 5508.10.0000; 5601.21.0090; 6805.20.0000; 7319.10.0000; 7319.20.0050; 9606.21.6000

Sandra B. Peveler
New World Imports, Inc.
1710 Hayes Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

RE: Classification of a Personal Care Amenities kit containing a manicure stick, emery board, plastic cotton swabs with cotton balls, and a sewing kit containing thread, needle, buttons and safety pin; travel set; 9605, HTSUSA; sets put up for retail sale; GRI 3(b)

Dear Ms. Peveler:

This responds to your letters of July 28 and December 7, 1993, concerning the classification of a Personal Care Amenities kit. We have reviewed the matter and our response follows.


The Personal Care Amenities kit is comprised of several components contained in a small cardboard box. The components are as follows: (1) a manicure stick, (2) emery board; (3) two plastic cotton swabs with cotton balls contained in a cellophane wrapper, and (4) a sewing kit in a cellophane wrapper containing several different colored threads, a sewing needle, two buttons, and a safety pin.


Is the Personal Care Amenities kit classifiable as a travel set under heading 9605, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), a set under General Rule of Interpretation 3(b), or should the contents of the kit be classified individually?


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.)

In your letter, you suggested that the Personal Care Amenities kit (the Amenities kit) could be classified as a travel set for sewing purposes under heading 9605, HTSUSA. This heading covers: "Travel sets for personal toilet, sewing or shoe or clothes cleaning (other than manicure and pedicure sets of heading 8214)." The EN's for heading 96.05 discuss the scope of the heading. Therein, toilet sets and sewing kits are defined as being presented in a case of leather, fabric, or plastics, while shoe cleaning kits are defined as having a case of leather, fabric, plastics, or cardboard covered with plastics. (See the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Volume 4, p. 1604.) The Amenities kit at issue is not classifiable under heading 9605, HTSUSA, because it is not presented in a proper case for a travelling set. It is packaged in a flimsy cardboard container.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that heading 9605, HTSUSA, is not the appropriate classification for the Amenities kit.

Failure to qualify as a travel set classifiable under heading 9605, HTSUSA, does not mean that the Amenities kit cannot be classified as a set under GRI 3(b). If the kit meets the requirements of a set, it can be classified in accordance with GRI 3(b) under the heading applicable to the particular component that imparts essential character to the set.

GRI 3(b) provides the following:

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:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and 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 EN's for GRI 3(b) provide the following:

(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.

While requirements (a) and (c) are satisfied, requirement (b) is not. The articles contained in the Amenities kit are not dedicated to a particular need or specific activity; they are dedicated to more than one particular need or specific activity.

Components put up together that are dedicated to more than one purpose (that is, more than one particular need or specific activity) cannot be considered sets under GRI 3(b). This is made apparent in the examples of proper sets presented in the EN's for GRI 3(b). (See the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Volume 1, p. 4-5.) Each example shows that a proper set's contents are dedicated exclusively to one specific purpose; for example, all contents of the spaghetti meal set (package of uncooked spaghetti, sachet of cheese, and can of tomato sauce) are dedicated to the preparation of a spaghetti meal and all contents of the hairdressing set (electric hair clippers, comb, pair of scissors, brush, and towel) are dedicated to the dressing (cutting and/or arranging) of hair. Further, the components of these sets are not only dedicated to a single purpose; they are also related to one another. That is, they are used in conjunction with one another toward the fulfillment of that single purpose.

As stated above, the contents of the Amenities kit are dedicated to more than one purpose. The sewing kit is dedicated to sewing. The manicure stick, emery board, and cotton swabs with cotton balls are completely unrelated to that purpose. While it might be suggested that the Amenities kit qualifies as a set because its components are dedicated to personal care while travelling, we believe that is too broad an application of the single purpose requirement. The sewing kit is not capable of use in conjunction with the kit's other articles in fulfillment of a single purpose. (This is not to be construed necessarily as a conclusion that personal toilet articles combined with, for example, sewing or shoe polishing articles cannot be considered a travel set under heading 9605, HTSUSA, provided that all other requirements are met.)

Under GRI 3(b), a group of articles put up for retail sale either constitutes a proper set or does not. Customs will not attempt to construct a qualifying set or sets out of a failed set. When articles put up together are determined not to form a proper set for GRI 3(b) purposes, they are classified individually. Therefore, we conclude that the components of the Amenities kit will have to be classified separately. Any component of the Amenities kit which, by itself, could be considered a set will not be treated as a set (and classified as one article according to the component that imparts essential character) because any such component does not meet the basic requirement of being put up, by itself, for retail sale.

The conclusion that the Amenities kit is not a set under GRI 3(b) does not impact upon your concern regarding a visa for the sewing kit. Any component of a GRI 3(b) set that would require a visa if imported alone still requires a visa even though it is merely a component of a proper set. This is not the case where a component requiring a visa if imported alone is a component of a travelling set under heading 9605, HTSUSA. (See Headquarters Ruling Letter 952195, dated December 3, 1992.)


The applicable subheading for the wood manicure stick is 4417.00.8090, HTSUSA, which provides for tools of wood, other, other. The duty rate is 8% ad valorem. The applicable subheading for the emery board is 6805.20.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for abrasive powder/grain on a base of paper or paperboard only. The duty rate is 2.5% ad valorem. The applicable subheading for the Q-tips and cotton balls is 5601.21.0090, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of wadding, of cotton, other. The duty rate is 7.2% ad valorem and the quota category is 369. The applicable subheading for the thread is 5508.10.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for sewing thread of synthetic staple fibers. The duty rate is 13% ad valorem and the quota category is 200. The applicable subheading for the sewing needle is 7319.10.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for sewing, darning, or embroidery needles. The duty rate is Free. The applicable subheading for the safety pins is 7319.20.0050, HTSUSA, which provides for safety pins. The duty rate is 9% ad valorem. The applicable subheading for the buttons is 9606.21.6000, HTSUSA, which provides for buttons, other. The duty rate is 5.7% ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at your local Customs office.

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 your local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: