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HQ 957630

March 24, 1995

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 957630 ch


TARIFF NO.: 4202.32.9550

David Krakauer
RGA Accessories, Inc.
4 West
33 Street
New York, New York 10001-3386

RE: Tariff classification of a nylon/leather container; coin purse; wallet; notebook; handbag; article of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag.

Dear Mr. Krakauer:

This is in response to your letter, dated January 23, 1995, requesting tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for an article identified as an "agenda on a string." A sample was sent to this office for examination.


The submitted sample, style R9118, measures approximately 3.5 inches by 4.75 inches by 1.5 inches in its closed position. It is comprised of a zippered purse divided into three sections for holding coins, paper currency and small objects such as keys; and a tri-fold section with snap closure which contains a replaceable spiral bound paper notebook, an identification card holder and a slot suitable for holding a business card. The article may be carried by means of a detachable shoulder strap and is composed primarily of nylon, with a decorative suede leather patch on the front flap.


What is the proper tariff classification for the subject merchandise?


You contend that the subject merchandise is properly classified in heading 4820, HTSUS, which provides in part for diaries, address books, memorandum pads and notebooks, of paper or paperboard. In prior decisions concerning folders or covers imported with paper products, we have classified the goods as articles of paper classifiable within heading 4820. The folders were characterized as jackets or covers which merely emphasized the purpose of the article as a place to take notes, memoranda or daily records. Consequently, the paper component imparted the essential character to these items and they were regarded as articles "of paper or paperboard." See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 956497, dated August 3, 1994; HRL 955255, dated November 9, 1993; HRL 951076, dated March 18, 1992.

However, style R9118 cannot be regarded as a cover or jacket or to be used in conjunction with the notebook. Rather, when viewed as a whole, the article is a container designed to carry, store, organize and protect various personal effects, such as a driver's license, coins, paper currency, keys and a small notebook. In sum, the container imparts the essential character to the product. For this reason, the merchandise is not regarded as being composed "of paper or paperboard" and is excluded from heading 4820, HTSUS.

Heading 4202, HTSUS, provides in part for wallets and handbags, wholly or mainly covered with textile materials or leather. Subheading 4202.22, HTSUS, encompasses handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap; subheadings 4202.31, 4202.32 and 4202.39, HTSUS, describe articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or handbag (a.k.a. flatgoods). Pursuant to General Rule of Interpretation 6, classification of goods at the subheading level shall be effected mutatis mutandis with General Rules of Interpretation 1 through 5.

The subheading Explanatory Note to heading 4202, at page 613, states:

Subheadings 4202.31, 4202.32 and 4202.39

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, pipe-cases and tobacco-pouches.

The term "handbag" is not defined in the HTSUS or in the Explanatory Note to heading 4202. However, lexicographic sources define a "handbag" as follows:

Essential Terms of Fashion: A Collection of Definitions: Accessory carried primarily by women and girls to hold such items as money, credit cards, and cosmetics.

The Fashion Dictionary: Soft or rigid bag carried in hand or on arm. Size, shape, handle, etc., depend on fashion. Used by women as container for money and pocket-sized accessories.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: 1. traveling bag; 2. a woman's bag held in the hand or hung from a shoulder strap and used for carrying small personal articles and money.

Webster's New World Dictionary: A bag, usually of leather or cloth, held in the hand or hung by a strap from the arm or shoulder and used, by women, to carry money, keys, and personal effects.

Style R9118 may be regarded as either a flatgood or a handbag. The article is small, features an identification card holder and small pockets for paper currency/coins, which are characteristic of flatgoods such as wallets or change purses. On the other hand, the item possesses a shoulder strap and combines the features of more than a single flatgood (change purse, wallet, small note pad). As the merchandise is prima facie classifiable in two subheadings within heading 4202, HTSUS, we must resort to General Rule of Interpretation 3 to determine its proper classification.

Although the presence of a carrying strap permits the article to be worn on the shoulder in a manner consistent with a handbag, we conclude that a strap in and of itself should not determine its classification. In this regard, we note that the provision for handbags specifies that they may or may not have a shoulder strap. Thus, the manner in which the item is carried is not the determinative feature of a handbag. Moreover, in this instance the strap is detachable, suggesting a dual use for the merchandise as an article to be carried in a handbag.

We are of the opinion that the distinction between the applicable subheadings is the ability of the merchandise to hold various articles. Style R9118 does not possess sufficient capacity to hold small personal effects which are typically carried in the handbag (e.g. hairbrush, keys on a chain, certain cosmetics). In addition, the article is relatively flat and is largely limited to smaller items such as paper currency, coins and identification cards. While the article is capable of holding several items, we conclude that it does not have the character of a carry-all container. For this reason, the item is more specifically described by the subheading for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag.

Heading 4202, HTSUS, encompasses wallets and similar containers which are wholly or mainly covered with textile materials. At the six-digit classification level, articles of this heading are segregated according to the material composition of their outer surface. Style R9118 is mainly covered with textile materials. We regard the decorative leather flap as akin to trimming. Consequently, the article possesses an outer surface of textile materials for classification purposes.


The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 4202.32.9550, HTSUS, which provides for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag, of man-made textile fibers. The applicable rate of duty is 19.8 ad valorem. The textile visa category is 670.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are the subject of frequent negotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

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.


John Durant, Director

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