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HQ 955013

January 14, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 955013 BC


TARIFF NO.: 4421.90.9540; 4823.90.8500

F. Donald Moran
P.O. Box 135
Waldrick, NJ 07463

RE: Classification of wood-framed and aluminum-framed bulletin boards; corkboards; fiberboard; corrugated paperboard

Dear Mr. Moran:

This responds to an August 19, 1993, letter from THE MORAN GROUP, requesting a binding classification ruling for bulletin boards, also referred to as corkboards. We have reviewed the matter, and our decision follows. You submitted two samples for our examination. This ruling is limited to these samples.


The samples submitted are two bulletin boards. One is constructed of an agglomerated cork face sheet, about 1 mm thick, backed by a sheet of soft wood fiberboard, about 6 mm thick, which is backed by a sheet of wood hardboard, about 3 mm thick. The bulletin board measures 24" x 36" and has an aluminum frame. The other board is constructed of a sheet of corrugated paperboard at the core, about 5 mm thick, which is covered on both sides by a face sheet of agglomerated cork, about 1 mm thick. This sample also measures 24" x 36," and it has a wooden frame.


What is the proper classification for the two bulletin boards described above?


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.

Recently, in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 954862, dated October 19, 1993, we classified similar bulletin boards constructed of 11 mm thick wood fiberboard covered by a 1 mm thick agglomerated cork face sheet. One board had a plastic frame and the other an aluminum frame. Since no subheading in the HTSUS described the bulletin boards there at issue, and since the boards were constructed of more than one material - fiberboard, agglomerated cork and either plastic or aluminum, classification was determined under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b), the rule of "essential character." That rule provides the following:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The ruling concluded that the wood fiberboard component imparted the essential character to the bulletin boards, since it, more than any other material, provided the means by which the boards performed their principal function: the posting of messages, announcements, pictures, etc., in the office, school or home, by the use of tacks, pushpins and the like. The 1 mm thick agglomerated cork facesheet was not enough by itself to provide this capability. Consequently, the bulletin boards were classified under subheading 4421.90.9540, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of wood.

Applying the analysis of HRL 954862 to the instant bulletin boards, we conclude that the component material that imparts essential character to the boards is the material that provides the boards the means to perform their principal function. In the case of the first bulletin board (with the fiberboard core, described first in the "FACTS" section), that material is the wood fiberboard. In the case of the second bulletin board, that material is the corrugated paperboard. Applying GRI 3(b), the first board will be classifiable as if it consisted entirely of wood fiberboard, and the second board will be classifiable as if it consisted entirely of paperboard.

This conclusion should not be construed to mean that a bulletin board will always be classified according to its core material. Note that in HRL 954862, as well as in the instant case, the agglomerated cork facesheet is only 1 mm thick and therefore does not contribute substantially to the principal function of the boards, as above. Where a bulletin board's cork component is thicker and plays a more prominent role in the board's principal function, it may well be considered to be the material imparting essential character. In such a case, the cork would be more than a mere facesheet of 1 mm but need not be the sole material. Such a case would find the cork contributing to both the principal function and the aesthetic appearance (if it is the external component), whereas a 1 mm thick cork facesheet provides only aesthetic appeal. The determination should be made on a case by case basis.


The aluminum-framed bulletin board with a primary wood fiberboard core is classifiable under subheading 4421.90.9540, HTSUSA, as an other article of wood, other, other, other. The duty rate is 5.1% ad valorem. The wood-framed bulletin board with a primary paperboard core is classifiable under subheading 4823.90.8500, HTSUSA, as an other article of paperboard, other, other, other, other, other. The duty rate is 5.3% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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