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 > 1995 HQ Rulings > HQ 955038 - HQ 955367 > HQ 955104

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 955104

October 11, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 955104 ALS

TARIFF NO.: 3926.40.0000; 3926.90.9590

District Director of Customs
2nd and Chestnut Streets
Room 102
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2999

RE: Request for Further Review of Protest 1103-93-100496, dated September 9, 1993, Concerning Various Sports Memorabilia Display Cases and Protective Boxes, Sleeve Bags, and Loose- leaf Pages for Sports Cards

Dear Sir:

This ruling is on a protest that was filed against your decisions of June 11, 1993, concerning the subject items.


The items under consideration are made of polypropylene, polystyrene, acrylo nitrile butadiene styrene or polyvinyl chloride plastics. They consist of various sized card boxes with snap-down lids, cubes for holding baseballs or hockey pucks, hockey puck and baseball holders in the shape of those items with pedestals for displaying those items, sleeve bags, rigid and semi-rigid holders, nine pocket pages for holding sports cards, rigid card holders secured with snaps or screws, and hockey puck/picture holders. The card boxes, made of polystyrene, are approximately 3-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches and come in depths designed to hold 15, 25, 35, 55 and 150 cards. The baseball/hockey cubes consist of two U-shaped units, made of polystyrene, which slide together and snap lock to form a 3 inch cube. The baseball and hockey puck holders are made of acrylo nitrile butadiene styrene. They consist of a clear plastic unit in the shape of a baseball or hockey puck which snaps into a pedestal base. The remaining items are all designed to hold one or more sports cards. They consist of soft sleeve bags, soft nine card pocket pages and semi-rigid holders made of polypropylene. The sleeve bags and semi-rigid holders are - 2 -
slightly larger than the cards they are designed to hold. The pocket pages contain 9 pockets and are designed to fit into a loose-leaf notebook. The sleeve bags have a top flap, with a peel-off band covering an adhesive strip, which can be folded over and sealed. The remaining items consist of top loading and odd size hard sleeves made of polyvinyl chloride and rigid card holders of polystyrene which either snap or screw together. Samples of most of the items were submitted. A sample for one item, labelled as "new top loads", could not be specifically identified but is presumed to serve the same purpose as the other items.

The protestant entered the goods under subheading 3923.10.0000, HTSUSA, as "Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics;...: Boxes, cases, crates and similar articles," dutiable at 3 percent ad valorem. You classified the goods under subheading 3926.90.9590, HTSUSA, the provision for "Other articles of plastics...: Other: Other, Other," dutiable at 5.3 percent ad valorem.


What is the primary purpose of the items under consideration and, based thereon, how are they classified?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 provides that the classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section and chapter notes. If GRI 1 fails to classify the goods and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's are applied taken in order.

In considering this matter we noted that the importer questioned the classification of 4 broad groups of products. The first group consists of various sized plastic card boxes with snap down lids. The protestant argues that these are used almost exclusively by card collectors, to accommodate the packing, storage and movement of cards, to collector's exhibits and shows. Although the protestant states that the "boxes are made to accommodate specific card counts as is standard in the card collecting trade," we were unable to independently confirm that such a standard exists in the trade. We understand that - 3 -
collectors create sets of cards based on different criteria, e.g., team, year, hologram, traded set, and then chooses the box which most closely approximates the number of cards in such set.

Based on our observations, discussions with purveyors of sports cards and advertisements for the products, it appears that the primary purpose of these boxes is to store and protect the cards at home, in what grouping they choose to sort them. Such articles are not used primarily for packing and conveying and thus are not classifiable in heading 3923, HTSUSA.

The narrative provided with the protest states that "All plastic boxes are specifically manufactured for the packaging and protecting of specific quantities or sets of collector cards." (emphasis added). In this regard we noted that the Explanatory Notes (EN'S) to the Harmonized System, which represent the opinion of the international tariff classification experts, in EN 39.26, specifies that Heading 3926 includes articles such as dust sheet, protective bags, awnings, file-covers, document-jackets, book covers and reading jackets, and similar protective goods made by sewing or gluing together sheets of plastic.

The second group of products consists of card holders of various types, i.e., sleeve bags, semi-rigid holders, rigid card holders and nine pocket pages. Each of these items is designed to generally hold 1 card with the pocket pages designed to hold 1 card per pocket. The protestant states, "The sleeves or semi- rigid cardholders provide an opening at the top to slide the collector's card into the plastic sleeve to protect the card from soiling or bending while being transported to collector shows or being handled individually by other collectors. Additionally, the sleeves perform a further protective function while cards are being stored, avoiding damage to the card from dust or moisture." We believe that these items are primarily for storage and protection of the sports cards and, as such, are classifiable in the same manner as the snap top boxes. The items are available for sale empty, either by the piece, or in packages, and are sold in retail stores and at baseball card shows to collectors of sports cards. Dealers, who by the nature of the business, are collectors as well, use these holders to both protect their inventory and to serve as premium packaging for the cards.

The distinction between the use of the various types of cards is the value of the card to be placed therein. The more expensive the card the more substantial a holder will be used. - 4 -

It was, for example, noted that a dealer might store and sell a $0.25 card in a polypropylene sleeve, a $2.00 card in a semi- rigid or rigid card holder, and a $25.00 card in a screw-down holder. None of these items is free standing. We note that the semi-rigid card holders, the rigid plastic card holders and the sleeve bags are in packaging bags with an inscription that indicates that these items are designed to be sold empty to collectors and not dealers.

It appears that the sleeve bags, semi-rigid holders and nine pocket pages are similar to the exemplars in the aforementioned EN 39.26 and that classification in heading 3926, HTSUSA, is also appropriate for these items.

The hockey puck/picture holder consists of two clear rigid plastic rectangular panels designed to be held together when inserted into a rigid plastic holder or stand. The panel(s) have molded recesses which are form-shaped to the shape of a hockey puck and a sports card, respectively. This permits the puck and card to be sandwiched between the panels. While these items may be found in the house, we believe these items may be more appropriately described as ornamental shelf-type display articles and should be classified in heading 3926, HTSUSA, rather than as a household article.

The last group of products covered by the instant protest consist of a cube for displaying a baseball or hockey puck and a holder in the shape of a baseball or hockey puck with a pedestal. Counsel states that these products are "specifically designed to contain a single baseball or hockey puck for the express purpose of protecting the items, which usually bear autographs of baseball or hockey players, from soiling or other damage either when displayed at collector shows, or in transit to or from collector shows. The items have no other use except for the packing or housing of baseballs and or hockey pucks and are sold exclusively by collectors or by collector supply stores to be a box or case which contains the autographed item."

Our observation of the marketing of these items at sports stores causes us to conclude that these items are not merely to package pre-autographed baseballs or hockey pucks. We note that they are used to display memorabilia of amateur teams; to display a ball, whether or not autographed, caught by a fan at a professional game who is lucky enough to catch a ball or puck; to display balls or pucks which are inscribed with various team emblems, etc. A fan may purchase a ball or puck and then - 5 -
purchase a case to display it. It has been observed that such items are referred to as "souvenir" balls and pucks, and are sold in sporting goods stores, in sports card stores, and as premiums in cereal promotions. We have observed that these items are also separately available for sale at sports card shows to the fan who wishes to purchase and display a ball or puck.


Plastic card boxes with snap-down lids, approximately 3-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches and of various depths; sleeve bags with a sealable top flap; semi-rigid holders; rigid holders; and nine pocket pages, designed to hold sports cards, are classifiable in subheading 3926.90.9590, HTSUSA. Merchandise so classified is subject to a general rate of duty of 5.3 percent ad valorem.

Hockey puck/picture holders consisting of two clear rigid plastic rectangular panels with molded recesses for the puck and picture and which are designed to be held together when inserted into a rigid plastic holder or stand are classifiable in subheading 3926.40.0000, HTSUSA. Merchandise so classified is subject to a general rate of duty of 5.3 percent ad valorem. A plastic cube designed to hold and display a baseball or hockey puck, a clear plastic holder in the shape of a baseball which mounts on a pedestal and a clear plastic holder in the shape of a hockey puck which mounts on a pedestal, are classifiable in subheading 3926.40.0000, HTSUSA. Merchandise so classified is subject to a general rate of duty of 5.3 percent ad valorem.

Since reclassification of the merchandise as indicated above would result in the same amount of duty as the classification under which the entries were liquidated, you are instructed to deny the protest in full. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and provided to the protestant as part of the notice of action on the protest.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be provided 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 this decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and - 6 -

Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: