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HQ 959473

April 8, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 959473 JRS


TARIFF NO.: 8513.10.20

David A. Eisen, Esquire
Seigel, Mandell & Davidson, P.C.
One Astor Plaza
1515 Broadway, 43rd Floor
New York, NY 10036-8901

RE: "Car Light" key ring; composite good; heading 7326, HTSUS, as other articles of iron or steel; heading 8513, HTSUS, as portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy...flashlights; GRI 3(b); essential character; EN VIII GRI 3(b); EN 85.13; HQ 956371

Dear Mr. Eisen:

This is in response to your letter to the Customs National Import Specialist Staff, New York, dated June 17, 1996, on behalf of your client, Avon Products, Inc., requesting a ruling on the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of a novelty key ring made in China and/or Taiwan. Your letter and sample were forwarded to this office for response. We regret the delay.


The merchandise in issue, measuring approximately 5-inches in length, is a novelty "car light" key ring, consisting of a "swivel" split metal key ring attached to a flashlight housed in a 3-inch long by 1 inch wide car-shaped rigid plastic housing. The flashlight operates on two AAA batteries. The "hood" of the car swivels so when the hood is flipped over to reveal the flashlight bulb, located across the entire front grill portion of the "car," an "on" connection is made in the flashlight to illuminate a lock or keyhole.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

7326 Other articles of iron or steel:

7326.20.00 Articles of iron or steel wire . . . 4.6 percent ad valorem

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 . . . 17.5 percent ad valorem

9503 Other toys; reduced-size ("scale") models and sim- ilar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds; parts and accessories thereof:

9503.90.00 Other...Free


What is the classification of the "Car light" key ring?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that a good cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to the remaining GRIs.

Initially, we reject your argument that the plastic housing which is the receptacle of the flashlight is an "other toy" under heading 9503, HTSUS, namely subheading 9503.90.00, HTSUS. Although the term "toy" is not defined in the tariff, the ENs to chapter 95 indicate that a toy is an article designed for the amusement of children or adults.

The car portion of the key chain does not meet the prima facie classification of heading 9503, HTSUS, as a toy vehicle because it is not a toy for amusement, and it is not suited for manipulative play because the plastic "car" does not have free-rolling wheels and the "doors" are not functional. The grill portion of the car does not house a pair of small imitation headlights possessing a minimal amount of light as would a toy car, but instead one side of the front grill contains the light bulb portion of the flashlight, which is capable of projecting a significant beam of light due to its two AAA batteries. This component cannot be described as a toy because it is only the novelty housing in which the flashlight is incorporated. By turning over the "hood" section of the plastic housing, the flashlight is turned either "on" or "off." As such, this article functions as a flashlight and cannot be prima facie classifiable under heading 9503, HTSUS.

The article in issue, a swivel-type metal key ring attached to a "car-shaped" flashlight, cannot be classified by reference to GRI 1 because the components are prima facie classifiable in different headings. The "car light" key ring consists of two components, namely, the flashlight in heading 8513, HTSUS, and the swivel split metal key ring and associated attached metal parts in heading 7326, HTSUS. Thus, we proceed to GRI 2 which states that the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of GRI 3.

GRI 3 provides that 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:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) 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.

Since the article is a composite good consisting of different components, classification is determined by application of GRI 3(b), HTSUS. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the HTSUS, 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).

EN VIII to GRI 3(b) explains that "[t]he 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 the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods." We must determine whether the flashlight or the metal key ring imparts the essential character to this article.

No breakdown of the component materials by value or weight was submitted. However, in your argument under subheading 9503.90.00, HTSUS, you suggest that the plastic car "comprises the substantial majority of the weight, value and bulk" of the article. We agree that the flashlight's housing comprises the bulk and weight when compared to the metal portion of the key ring. However, that factor in this case does not resolve the issue of essential character. It is "the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods" that imparts the essential character as discussed below.

Your alternative argument is that the merchandise is classifiable under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, because the "swivel" metal key ring imparts the essential character as it enables the user to attach house or car keys. You cite to HQ 089282, dated August 2, 1991, and HQ 950636, dated January 16, 1992, which classified the key rings under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, to support your argument that the metal key ring imparts the essential character. In HQ 089282 (a composite article consisting of a pencil, a memo pad and paper, a suede tri-fold cover, and a key ring chain) and HQ 950636 (a composite article consisting of a key ring with a plastic holder having a recess into which a photograph or logo could be placed), Customs found that the predominant use of the product was the key chain and the presence of the other components comprising the products was secondary to the key chain. In HQ 950636, the plastic element was found to be present for decorative purposes and to add bulk to the entity, but did not impart the essential character of the article.

The instant case is distinguishable from these prior rulings because the function of the flashlight does not play a subordinate role to the key chain as did the other elements attached to the key rings in HQ 089282 and HQ 950636. Rather, it is the function of the flashlight that primarily contributes to how this article will be used.

EN 85.13, provides, in pertinent part:

...The term " portable lamps " refers only to those lamps (i.e., both the lamp and its electricity supply) which are designed for use when carried in the hand or on the person. The lamps of this heading include: . . . (6) Fancy torches in the shape of pistols, pens, etc. Composite articles composed of a lamp or torch and a pen, screwdriver, key ring, etc., remain classified here only if the main function of the whole is the provision of light (emphasis added).

We have held in a prior ruling, HQ 956371, dated October 4, 1994, that a plastic flashlight with a metal key ring was classifiable under subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, the provision for a flashlight, since the battery operated flashlight imparted the essential character to the merchandise. Customs found therein that the primary function of the combination was the illumination provided by the flashlight. See also NYRL 862632, dated May 10, 1991 ("Leash light"). The rationale in HQ 956371 applies equally to this composite article. The primary function of the car light key ring is to produce a beam of light, and heading 7326 is not applicable. See EN 85.13.

It is our opinion that the flashlight contained within the novelty plastic housing imparts the essential character to the article, and not the metal parts of the swivel key ring. See HQ 956371; EN 85.13. We, therefore, find that the flashlight plus key ring is properly classified in subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, the provision for flashlights.


Under the authority of GRI 3(b), the "car light' key ring is properly classified in subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, as a flashlight. Articles classified under this tariff provision are dutiable at the rate of 17.5 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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