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HQ 955436

February 24, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 955436 BC


TARIFF NO.: 4202.32.1000

Bruce Weiner
Leeds Leather Products
4431 William Penn Highway
Murrysville, PA 15668

RE: Classification of a zippered wallet made of plastic-coated textile material; clutch-bag; handbag; articles for the pocket or handbag; GRI 3(a); GRI 6

Dear Mr. Weiner:

This responds to your letter of June 15, 1993, wherein you requested a binding classification ruling for a zippered wallet. You submitted a sample for our examination. We have reviewed the matter and our decision follows.


The sample submitted was described in your letter as a zippered wallet, style #0900-46. It is constructed of a compact polyurethane plastic-coated textile fabric that simulates imitation leather. It has an envelope style and measures 7.5 inches x 4 inches x .75 inches (when closed). It has a zipper closure on three sides. When unzippered, the opening expands to a width of 4 inches. This permits easy access to the compartments inside. The inside is divided into two main compartments by a zippered pouch that runs the length of the center of the wallet. This pouch could hold coins and other small, narrow items. On each inside wall of the wallet are one pocket that could hold paper money and four smaller pockets for items such as credit cards, driver licenses, identification cards, and the like. A zippered pocket is located on one side of the exterior surface of the wallet. It could contain small, narrow items such as coins or flat items like credit cards. The polyurethane plastic material forms the exterior surface of the wallet.


What is the proper classification for the plastic-coated textile zippered wallet?


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.)

Heading 4202, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), provides for the classification of the following containers and similar articles:

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.

Whether the zippered wallet at issue is considered a wallet, purse, handbag, or similar container, it is prima facie classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUSA.

Subheadings 4202.31 through 4202.39, HTSUSA, cover articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag. The term "articles normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag" is not defined in the tariff. However, the EN's to subheadings 4202.31, 4202.32, and 4202.39 provide the following examples of these articles (see Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, p. 613):

These subheadings cover articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag and include spectacle cases, note-cases (bill-folds), wallets, purses, key-cases, cigarette-cases, cigar-cases and tobacco-pouches.

Clearly, wallets and purses are within the scope of the above subheadings that cover articles normally carried in the pocket or handbag.

Recently, we classified under subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, articles substantially similar to the zippered wallet at issue. Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 953774, dated August 2, 1993, classified two envelope style wallet/purse-like articles. These articles were essentially the same shape and measurements (except for thickness) as the instant zippered wallet but had snap closures instead of a zippered closure. One had a gusset controlled opening while the other opened by unfolding. Between them, the articles exhibited features similar to the instant zippered wallet, such as interior compartments, a zippered pouch, pockets for credit and similar cards, and external zippered pockets. These articles were somewhat thicker than, and capable of holding more items than, the zippered wallet at issue. They could be carried in the hand, similar to a so-called "clutch-bag," a kind of handbag, but could also be carried inside a handbag.

In HRL 953774, we found that the wallet/purse-like articles exhibited characteristics of both wallets and clutch-type handbags; thus, we found that they were prima facie classifiable under two separate subheadings of heading 4202, HTSUSA: 4202.22 (covering handbags with outer surface of sheeting of plastic) and 4202.32 (covering articles for the pocket or handbag with outer surface of sheeting of plastic). Through GRI 6, which concerns classification at the subheading level and instructs that GRI's 1 through 5 are to be applied in making subheading level determinations, we applied GRI 3(a) to determine which subheading should apply to the wallet/purse-like articles. GRI 3(a) provides the following:

The heading [or subheading in this context] which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings [subheadings] providing a more general description. [Emphasis supplied.]

Based on GRI 3(a), we determined that subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, covering articles of the kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag, most specifically described the wallet/purse-like articles at issue in HRL 953774. Consequently, these articles were classified under that subheading.

Compared to the wallet/purse-like articles classified in HRL 953774, the zippered wallet at issue here is somewhat smaller with a somewhat lesser capacity for holding articles; in a closed position, it is flatter. In our opinion, it is more similar to a wallet (or similar flatgood) than a clutch-bag/handbag. Nonetheless, its interior compartments, interior zippered pouch, and arrangement of multiple pockets for credit cards and I.D.'s are arguably features also characteristic of a clutch-bag. That being the case, the analysis of HRL 953774 is relevant. Applying that analysis, we conclude that the zippered wallet at issue is classifiable as an article normally carried in the handbag, since the subheadings covering articles for the pocket or handbag more specifically describe it (the zippered wallet).

Alternatively, since the zippered wallet at issue is, in our opinion, clearly more similar to a wallet, and thus sufficiently distinct from a clutch-type handbag to obviate the specificity analysis of GRI 3(a), we believe that it could be classified as an article for the pocket or handbag on the basis of GRI 1. Under either theory, the classification of the zippered wallet is subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA.

In this regard, we note that among the various styles of wallet/purse-like articles, there are some that will answer to the description for clutch-type handbags, some that will answer to the description for wallets, and others that will fall somewhere in between. The first type should be classified as handbags (clutch- bags) under GRI 1. The second type should be classified as articles for the pocket or handbag (wallets, flatgoods, and similar articles) under GRI 1, and the third type should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with classification based on either GRI 1 or GRI 3.


The subject zippered wallet, with a plastic-coated textile covering, is classifiable under subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, which covers articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag, with outer surface of sheeting of plastic, of reinforced or laminated plastic. The applicable rate of duty is 12.1 cents/kg + 4.6% ad valorem.

John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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