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HQ 956371

October 4, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 956371 DFC


TARIFF NO.: 8513.10.20

District Director of Customs
300 S. Ferry Street
Room: 1001
Terminal Island, CA 90731

RE: Protest 2704-93-103834; Flashlight with key ring; Composite good; Essential character; NYRL's 862632,867297

Dear District Director:

This is in response to Protest 2704-93-103834 covering a shipment of plastic flashlights with metal key rings.


The merchandise involved consists of a battery operated flashlight and a key ring. The light portion of the article is in a triangular shaped plastic housing with each side measuring approximately two and one-eighth inches in length. The light is designed to provide low intensity illumination and is activated by pressing down on the plastic housing. Attached to the plastic housing is a small metal key ring.

The entry covering this merchandise was liquidated on October 15, 1993, under subheading 8513.10.20, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for flashlights. The protest was timely filed on December 8, 1993.

The protestant claims that the merchandise is essentially a keychain and properly classifiable under subheading 3926.90.95, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of plastics, other.


Does the key ring or the battery operated flashlight impart the essential character to the merchandise?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRI's]." In other words, classification is governed first by the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.

Protestant's claim for classification under subheading 3926.90.95, HTSUS, is misplaced because the key chain is of metal and not plastic. The only plastic component is the housing for the flashlight. Because protestant could have claimed classification under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for articles of iron or steel wire, we have given consideration to that provision.

The competing provisions are as follows:

7326 Other articles of iron or steel:

7326.20.00 Articles of iron or steel wire . . . . .

8513 Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy (for example, dry batteries, storage batteries, magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof:
8513.10 Lamps:
8513.10.20 Flashlights . . . . .

Inasmuch as the flashlight with the key ring is a composite good [flashlight plus key ring] its classification is governed by GRI 3(b), HTSUS, which reads, as follows:

3. 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 . . . 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, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The flashlight with the key ring is prima facie classifiable under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for articles of iron or steel wire, or under subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, which provides for flashlights.

Customs has defined flashlights as small battery-operated portable electric lights normally held in the hand by the housing itself, the primary function of which is to project a beam of light.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes to the HTSUS (EN), although not dispositive, should be looked to for the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

Composite goods are classifiable as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. EN VIII to GRI 3(b), at page 4, reads as follows:

(VIII) The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the materials or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

It is our opinion that the flashlight portion of the product imparts the essential character thereto. Specifically, the primary function of the combination is the illumination provided by the flashlight. Consequently, the flashlight with the key ring is classifiable as a flashlight under subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS. See NYRL 862632 dated May 10, 1991 and 867297 dated October 18, 1991.


The battery operated flashlight imparts the essential character to the merchandise.

The flashlight with the key ring is dutiable at the rate of 25% ad valorem under subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS.

The protest should be denied. In accordance with Section 3A(11) (b) of Customs Directive 099 3550, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision together with the Customs Form 19, should be mailed 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 the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the office of Regulations and 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

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