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HQ 954002

September 23, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954002 ch


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.4500

Denise A. Cline
Studio Imports Limited, Inc.
2252 Hayes Street
Hollywood, Florida 33020

RE: Modification of PC 875011; classification of four and five-piece cosmetic purses; set; GRI 3(b); travel, sports and similar bag; articles normally carried in the pocket or handbag.

Dear Ms. Cline:

This is in response to your letters of March 10, 1993 and April 23, 1993, requesting tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) for certain four and five piece cosmetic sets. Samples were provided to this office for examination.


The submitted samples, styles SG293, SG311 and SG317, are four or five piece "cosmetic sets." Each set consists of four or five bags ranging in size from approximately 3.5 inches by 3.5 to approximately 8 inches by 6.5 inches. The bags comprising each set are nested inside each other so that the smaller bags fit within the bag next larger in size. The largest bag within each set features a removable swagger strap and resembles a cosmetic bag. The smallest bag in a set resembles a coin purse. You state that each set "will be sold on the retail market as one piece."

The cosmetic sets are manufactured from plastic coated fabrics, with the plastic material comprising the exterior surface. The interior of each bag possesses a vinyl lining.

In Preclassification Ruling (PC) 875011, the larger pieces in each set were classified under subheading 4202.92.4500, which provides for travel bags with outer surface not of textile materials. The smaller bags were classified under subheading 4202.32.2000, which provides for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag, with outer surface of plastic sheeting, not of reinforced or laminated plastics.


What is the proper tariff classification for the instant cosmetic sets?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied in order.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for:

Trunks, Suit-Cases, Vanity-Cases, Executive-Cases, Briefcases, School Satchels, Spectacle Cases, Binocular Cases, Camera Cases, Musical Instrument Cases, Gun Cases, Holsters and Similar Containers; Travelling- Bags, Toilet Bags, Rucksacks, Handbags, Shopping-Bags, Wallets, Purses, Map-Cases, Cigarette-Cases, Tobacco- Pouches, Tool Bags, Sports Bags, Bottle-Cases, Jewellery Boxes, Powder-Boxes, Cutlery Cases and Similar Containers, of Leather or of Composition Leather, of Sheeting of Plastics, of Textile Materials, of Vulcanised Fibre or of Paperboard, or Wholly or Mainly Covered with Such Materials or With Paper. (Emphasis added).

Thus, toilet bags, purses and similar containers, of textile materials or plastic sheeting, are classifiable under heading 4202.

A toilet bag is a synonym for a cosmetic bag. The containers comprising each set are either toilet bags, purses or containers similar thereto. Therefore, they are classifiable under heading 4202.

Subheadings 4202.31, 4202.32 and 4202.39 provide for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to heading 4202 state, in pertinent part:

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.

As noted above, the sets possess smaller containers which resemble coin purses. A coin purse is similar in size and function to the containers enumerated in the EN cited above. Accordingly, the smaller containers within each set are classifiable as articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag.

Chapter 42, Additional U.S. Note 1, states:

For the purposes of heading 4202, the expression "travel, sports and similar bags" means goods, other than those falling in subheadings 4202.11 through 4202.39, of a kind designed for carrying clothing and other personal effects during travel, including backpacks and shopping bags of this heading, but does not include binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, bottle cases and similar containers. (Emphasis added).

Travel bags are classified pursuant to subheading 4202.92.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter 951534, dated August 4, 1992, we stated:

Although a fine distinction is made with regard to whether 4202.92 or 4202.32, HTSUSA, controls the classification of cosmetic cases, this office has consistently made such determinations and concluded that subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, more specifically provides for such articles. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 087419, dated July 12, 1990. In HRL 087419, Customs recognized that travel bags are articles designed to aid in organizing and providing a convenient carrying case for an individual and not primarily for use as a handbag accessory. While it is true that some cosmetic cases, such as the three styles at issue, may be small enough to be carried in a handbag, subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, nevertheless provides more specifically for these articles because they are designed to transport personal effects, whether or not in a handbag, and this is the essence of a travel bag.

On this basis, we concluded that cosmetic cases are generally classifiable as travel bags. Therefore, the larger bags in each of the instant sets are classifiable as travel bags, under subheading 4202.92.

As the foregoing indicates, containers in each of the instant cosmetic sets are classifiable under two separate subheadings of the HTSUSA. GRI 6 states that:

For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this rule, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.

Therefore, GRI's 1 through 5 are utilized to resolve classification issues which occur at the same subheading level.

GRI 3(b) provides in pertinent part that:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of...goods put up in sets for retail sale...shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character. (Emphasis added).

The EN to GRI 3(b), at page 4, state in part:

For the purposes of this Rule, the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall be taken to mean goods which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings. Therefore, for example, six fondue forks cannot be regarded as a set within the meaning of this Rule;

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and

(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking (e.g., in boxes or cases or on boards).

Pursuant to GRI 6, the principles of GRI 3(b) apply mutatis mutandis to the subheadings of headings 4202. As noted above, the instant cosmetic sets feature containers which are classifiable under two different subheadings of heading 4202. Therefore, the merchandise satisfies the first criteria for goods which qualify as "sets for retail sale."

The cosmetic sets provide, in one package, convenient containers for the transport of personal effects of all sizes. In addition, the largest bag may be used as a place to store and organize the smaller containers for travel. Hence, these articles have been put up together to meet a particular need and specific activity.

Finally, you indicate that the cosmetic sets will be sold together in one piece. By this, we infer that the sets will be sold in one package as a unit. It follows that the third criteria has been satisfied, and each cosmetic set qualifies as "goods put up in sets for retail sale." Accordingly, each set shall be classified under the subheading which provides for the component lending the set its essential character.

The EN to GRI 3(b) provide, at page 4, that:

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 material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight, or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

The largest container in each set serves to organize and store the smaller bags when they are used in conjunction with another. In addition, the largest container predominates over the smaller articles by weight and presumably value. Finally, as the bags are packaged nested one inside the other, it is the largest container which is visible to the consumer at the point of sale. On this basis, we conclude that the largest container lends the essential character to each set. The larger containers are classifiable as travel bags. Hence, the sets shall be classified pursuant to subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA.

In your request for a ruling dated March 10, 1993, you argue that the smaller containers included in each set are entitled to favorable tariff treatment as articles "of reinforced or laminated plastics." However, subheading 4202.92 does not possess a breakout for articles of "reinforced or laminated plastics." Therefore, the smaller articles are not entitled to the lower rate of duty you desire.


The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 4202.92.4500, HTSUSA, which provides inter alia for toiletry bags, purses and similar containers: travel, sports and similar bags: with outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: other. The applicable rate of duty is 20 percent ad valorem.

This notice to you should be considered a modification of PC 875011 under 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1). We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected by this modification, in that current contracts for importations arriving at a port subsequent to this decision will be classified pursuant to it. If such a situation arises, your client may, at its discretion, notify this office and apply for relief from the binding effects of this decision as may be warranted by the circumstances. However, please be advised that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.


John Durant, Director

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