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HQ 955913

May 3, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 955913 BC


TARIFF NO.: 6307.90.9986

Anne M. Neary
Import Manager
Nantucket Distributing
261 White's Path
South Yarmouth, MA 02664

RE: Classification of paperboard lidded boxes covered with rayon fabric and plastic beads; trinket boxes; decorative boxes

Dear Ms. Neary:

This responds to your letter of January 19, 1994, wherein you requested a binding classification ruling concerning decorative trinket boxes. We have reviewed the matter and our decision follows.


You describe the merchandise at issue as "trinket boxes." The boxes have a removable lid and are made of paperboard covered internally and externally with 100% rayon satin fabric. The bottom interior of the box and the interior and exterior of the lid are padded with foam. Externally, the top of the lid is covered with small plastic beads that form a decorative pattern. The sample submitted for our examination measures 3 inches square by approximately 1 and 3/4 inches high.


What is the proper classification for the paperboard 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, 23 Cust. Bull. 379 (1989), 54 Fed. Reg. 35,127 (August 23, 1989).)

Under GRI 1, consideration is given to the tariff provision for containers of heading 4202, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (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.

However, while the boxes at issue are containers that could be used to store jewelry, we have held in the past that containers of this particular type are not jewelry boxes or similar containers.

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. 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 high. 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 here at issue 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.

The boxes presently under consideration are similar to those we have described in previous rulings as "trinket boxes." These are boxes that are not specially designed, shaped or fitted for jewelry. In fact, they are not specially constructed to fit any particular item. Various kinds of articles can be placed in them, limited only by the size of the box, including jewelry, cosmetics, keepsakes, stamps, paper clips, postcards, photographs, etc. (See HRL 953393, April 16, 1993; HRL 952566, December 12, 1992; HRL 876018, July 22, 1992; and HRL 872453, April 7, 1992.) Also, they are not used in the retail sale of jewelry or other items. They are marketed and sold to consumers as boxes for various uses.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the boxes at issue are not classifiable by application of GRI 1 as jewelry boxes under heading 4202, HTSUSA.

Since no other tariff provision provides explicitly for the boxes at issue, 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 three materials present in the sample boxes are cardboard, textile fabric, and plastic. 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. Therefore, they are considered to be equally specific, rendering classification on the basis of specificity 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 rayon fabric and the plastic beads provide aesthetic appeal and marketability. As in HRL 953393, 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 at issue, covered with rayon fabric and 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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