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HQ 958955

May 9, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 958955 RFA


TARIFF NO.: 3924.90.20

Ms. Lori Aldinger
Import Coordinator
Rite Aid Corporation
P.O. Box 3165
Harrisburg, PA 17105

RE: Household Ceramic Magnets; Plastic Picture Frame with Attached Magnet; Heading 8505; GRI 3(b); Essential Character; T.D. 94-97; HQs 953320, 953264, 956738

Dear Ms. Aldinger:

In a letter dated January 5, 1996, to the then Area Director of Customs in New York, you requested the tariff classification of plastic picture frames with attached magnets under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter and sample were referred to this office for a response.


The merchandise, labeled as "Photo Frame with Silk Screen Design" [item # 961333], is a packaged set of two white, plastic frames (3.25" x 3") with a small rubber ferrite magnet attached to the back of each frame. In multi-colored lettering, the words "I ? [heart] My Daddy", are silk screened on the front of each frame.


Are the plastic picture frames with an attached magnet classifiable as a magnet or as a plastic picture frame under the HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with 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.

When an article consisting of a magnet and a plastic, textile or ceramic shell or housing is entered, Customs previously determined that the article should be treated as a composite good and that GRI 3 should be applied. See T.D. 94-97, 59 FR 62451, 62452 (December 5, 1994). The subject merchandise is comprised of a plastic picture frame and a magnet. When, by application of GRI 2, HTSUS, goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, GRI 3, HTSUS, is applicable. In this case, classification is determined by application of GRI 3(b), HTSUS, which provides:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, 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.

Explanatory Note (EN) Rule 3(b)(IX) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS) states that:

For the purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts (emphasis in original).

The ENs although not dispositive, provide a commentary on the scope of the each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See, T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The subject merchandise is a composite good. The components of the article, the plastic picture frame and a ferrite magnet, are adapted one to the other, mutually complementary, and together form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts. Therefore, we need to determine which component imparts the essential character.

In general, essential character has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure, core or condition of the article. In addition, EN Rule 3(b) (pg. 4), provides further factors which help determine the essential character of goods. Factors such as bulk, quantity, weight or value, or the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods are to be utilized, though the importance of certain factors will vary between different kinds of goods.

Based on the information submitted, we are of the opinion that the essential character of the subject merchandise is the plastic picture frame because it is the component which distinguishes the article. The picture frame is the component which fulfills the function of the article; it houses a photograph for display. The magnet merely allows the picture frame to be secured onto metal objects, such as a refrigerator or file cabinet or dishwasher. Moreover, even if the magnet were removed, the picture frame would still perform its function of displaying a photograph. Therefore, the picture frame imparts the essential character to the subject merchandise. As the plastic picture frame imparts the essential character to the composite good, the subject merchandise is classified under subheading 3924.90.20, HTSUS, as other plastic household articles including picture frames. See HQ 956738 (August 30, 1994), in which we classified a heavy duty spring clip with a plastic housing and a magnet under subheading 8308.90.90, HTSUS, as other clasps, frames with clasps, buckles, buckle clasps, hooks, eyes, eyelets and the like.

We note that HQ 953264 (March 30, 1994), classified a "Pillsbury Memo Magnet" (plastic advertisement memo magnet) and plastic hook magnet under subheading 8505.19.00, HTSUS, as a permanent magnet, because the magnet imparted the essential character to the articles. HQ 953264 stated that "[r]emoval of the magnet from the article would leave the product totally incapable of functioning as a magnetic memo holder for metallic surfaces."

The subject merchandise is distinguishable from the articles in HQ 953264. Removal of the magnet from the picture frame does not leave it incapable of functioning as a picture frame. Whereas, removal of the magnet from the memo magnet and hook magnet would leave the articles incapable of being secured to surfaces and used in the manner intended, i.e., the hook to hang objects and the memo to advertise its slogan.


The plastic picture frame with the attached magnet is classifiable under subheading 3924.90.20, HTSUS, which provides for: "[t]ableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of plastics: [o]ther: [p]icture frames. . . . " The general, column one rate of duty is 3.4 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals Division

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