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HQ 959062

January 28, 1997
CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 959062 CAB


TARIFF NO.: 4202.22.4030

Barbara Y. Wierbicki, Esq.
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center
Suite 3371
New York, NY 10048

RE: Modification of NY 817797, dated January 4, 1996; Subheading 4202.22 v. 4202.92; evening handbag; mini-backpack

Dear Ms. Wierbicki:

This is in response to your inquiry of March 18, 1996, requesting reconsideration in part, for New York Ruling Letter (NY) 817797, dated January 4, 1996, (amended by NY 818773, dated February 16, 1996) concerning the tariff classification of a bag under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). This request is on behalf of your client Sarne Corporation/Dover Kidz. A sample was submitted for examination.

Pursuant to section 625, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993) (hereinafter section 625), notice of the proposed modification of NY 817797 was published November 13, 1996, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 30, Numbers 45/46.


The article at issue is a bag that is referred to as Style 43065S. Style 43065S is comprised of a pile velveteen type fabric and measures 6 inches long by 7« inches wide. The bag is composed of three pieces of fabric with two pieces of fabric sewn along the sides and the piece of fabric forming the base. The bag measures approximately 5 inches in diameter, contains eight metal eyelets at the top rim through which a braided nylon cord is inserted as a drawstring closure. The bag also contains a velveteen flap adorned with a large satin bow. Finally, Style 43065S features double shoulder straps made of braided nylon cording which are 58 inches long by ¬ inch wide and located at the back of the bag. The base of the bag is a snap closure, through which the shoulder strap may be inserted to create a "mini-backpack" effect. If the shoulder strap is not inserted through the snap closure, the bag has the appearance of a drawstring pouch.

In NY 817797, Style 43065S was described as a mini-backpack and classified in subheading 4202.92.3020, HTSUSA, which provides for travel, sport and similar bags, with outer surface of textile materials, man-made fibers, backpacks. You contend that Style 43065S is properly classifiable in subheading 4202.22.4030, HTSUSA, the provision for handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle, with outer surface of textile materials, wholly or in part of braid, of man-made fibers. Customs agrees that NY 817797 should be modified to reflect the correct tariff classification in subheading 4202.22.4030 HTSUSA.


I. Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable in subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, which provides for travel, sport and similar bags or in subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, as a handbag?

II. Whether the braided strap on the subject article causes it to be considered "in part of braid" under the HTSUSA?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA 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. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's taken in order.

Subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, provides for handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle. Subheading 4202.92 HTSUSA, provides for other articles not more specifically provided for in the preceding subheadings of 4202, HTSUSA, and with an outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials. Included within subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, are travel, sports and similar bags.

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

For the purpose 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.

The issue Customs must address is which characteristics cause a bag to be of a kind similar to a purse, pocketbook, shoulder bag or clutch bag of subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, as opposed to bags which are considered to be articles other than a handbag of subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA.

The term "handbag" is not defined in the nomenclature, however Customs has recognized in an earlier ruling the following definitions:

From the 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.

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

From 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.

From 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.

See, HQ 957246, dated March 29, 1995.

HQ 957246 further states the determinative feature of a handbag is its ability to hold several objects not associated with a wallet including items such as, credit cards, identification cards, paper currency and coins. Moreover, in light of the aforementioned definitions and prior Customs rulings, handbags of subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, are manufactured to be carried in the hand, under the arm, over the shoulder, tucked under the arm, and intended to be used to transport some small personal effects.

Customs has consistently stated that other bags of subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, are designed to carry clothing or other personal effects during travel, including backpacks. In HQ 951534, dated August 4, 1992, Customs determined that certain cosmetic cases therein were classifiable in subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA. In HQ 951534, Customs noted that "cosmetics cases are designed to transport personal effects' (i.e., cosmetics and various toiletry or hygiene articles, during travel' (i.e., from one location to another)." Customs further stated, "essentially the purpose of a cosmetic case is to organize personal effects and to provide a single site for the transport of these effects." In this instance the subject evening bag is not similar in function to the cosmetic cases of HQ 951534 in that it is not designed to organize personal effects during travel.

The term "backpack" is not defined in the nomenclature and as in the case of "handbags", Customs has had occasion in prior rulings to define the common definition of "backpack" for tariff classification purposes. In HQ 953458, dated April 16, 1993, Customs referred to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, (1977), which defined "backpack" as "an article used to carry (food or equipment) on the back, esp. in hiking". Customs reiterated this definition of "backpack" in HQ 954072, dated September 2, 1993, stating that "the common definition of a backpack is an article that is designed to carry food and equipment".

In this case, due to the subject article's overall construction (i.e., small size, velveteen fabric, flimsy straps), it is not designed to carry food or equipment during travel. In HQ 958308, dated November 5, 1995, Customs concluded that backpacks contain certain design features that facilitate their primary purpose which is to carry certain items during travel. HQ 958308 noted that straps that are not flimsy in construction and are sewn on in a durable manner are indicative of an article being designed to act and function as a backpack. In this case, the subject bag contains braided straps which are flimsy and are not commonly found on backpacks.

When examining the subject bag in light of the aforementioned definitions for "handbag", the legal note, the common meanings, and the overall appearance, it is apparent that it is a bag designed for females to carry some small personal effects, such as money, keys, credit cards, and certain toiletries. Despite the fact that the subject bag has the appearance of a "mini backpack" due to the addition of a snap which allows the insertion of the braided shoulder strap, its principal use is that of an evening handbag and not a backpack. Moreover, if the shoulder strap is not inserted through the snap closure, the bag has the appearance of a drawstring pouch which is a style commonly used for evening bags. In essence, Style 43065S incorporates the latest fashion trend which has made the "mini backpack" notion popular. The fact that the bag is designed and intended for use as an evening bag and may be adapted for wearing in the manner that a "mini-backpack" is worn does not make it classifiable as a "backpack". Consequently, Style 43065S is properly classifiable in subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA.

A question still remains as to whether the subject handbag is to be considered "in part of braid" for tariff classification purposes. The issue of whether a braided strap contained on an evening bag is considered "in part of braid" was raised in HQ 089386, dated March 18, 1992, and Customs determined that the braided strap on the evening bag therein was fully functional, formed the entire length of the shoulder strap, which is significant, and enhanced the utility and style of the bag. Customs classified the bag therein in the subheading for "in part of braid". Consequently, in this case, where the braided material is also fully functional, forms the entire strap, and also heightens the bag's overall aesthetic appeal, it is also classifiable in the subheading for "in part of braid".


Style 43065S is properly classifiable in subheading 4202.22.4030, HTSUSA, which provides for handbags, whether or not with shoulder straps, including those without handle, with
outer surface of textile materials, wholly or in part of braid, of man-made fibers. The applicable rate of duty is 8.2 percent ad valorem and the textile restraint category is 670.

Therefore, NY 817797 is hereby modified.

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 subject to frequent renegotiations 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 internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your 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 your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

In accordance with section 625, this ruling will become effective 60 days from its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to section 625 does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals

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