United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1997 HQ Rulings > HQ 959946 - HQ 960089 > HQ 960046

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 960046

August 5, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 960046 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4202.32.9550; 8531.80.8040

Jack D. Mlawski, Esquire
Galvin & Mlawski
440 Park Avenue South, 9th Floor
New York, New York 10016-8067

RE: Reconsideration of NY A87907; "PurseGuard" Alarm with Carrying Case; Not Composite Good or Set; Not GRI 5(a) Container

Dear Mr. Mlawski:

This letter is in response to your request of October 25, 1996, on behalf of your client, Zelco Industries, Inc., for reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) A87907, issued October 15, 1996, concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of a purse-related alarm device and carrying case made in Hong Kong. A sample was submitted with the request.


In NY A87907, Customs separately classified the carrying case in subheading 4202.32.9550, HTSUSA, textile category 670, the provision for "Articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: With outer surface of textile materials: Other: Other, Of man-made fibers," with a general column one duty rate (in 1996) of 19.5 (now 19.3) percent ad valorem. The "PurseGuard" alarm device was classified in subheading 8531.80.8040, HTSUSA, the provision for "Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, -2-
indicator panels, burglar or fire alarms), other than those of heading 8512 or 8530; parts thereof: Other apparatus: Other, Other sound signaling apparatus," with a general column one duty rate (in 1996) of 2.1 (now 1.9) percent ad valorem.

The sample article, identified by model no. 08135, is made up of two components, one of which is a battery-powered alarm device enclosed in a small, circular plastic housing, from which protrudes a metal hanger. The user places the device on the edge of a table (with the hanger extending below the edge) and sets the strap of a purse on the hanger. Once activated, the alarm emits a loud beeping if the purse is removed from the hanger.

The article's other component is a small, sturdy, flat carrying case or pouch which measures approximately 4-1/2 inches in length by 2-3/4 inches in height. Customs laboratory testing reveals that the case has an outer surface composed of embossed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that is completely covered with flocked man-made (rayon) fibers. "Flock" is a textile material defined in heading 5601, HTS, as "textile fibers, not exceeding 5 millimeters in length." The lining of the case is also made of PVC plastic material. The item is similar in design to a generic coin purse and is capable of holding various small items normally carried in the pockets. The case closes with a hook and loop fabric fastener.

Advertising literature submitted with the sample states: "Whether dining out...or even just hanging around the office, with PurseGuard your purse is always handy, unobtrusive, and safe...and, when not in use, it stores in its own handsome, little pouch." The complete article is imported suitable for direct retail sale without repacking.


Whether the goods are properly classified as a composite article, as a set, or as separately classified components.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized -3-

Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

The complete good cannot be classified by reference to GRI 1 because it consists of two individual components classifiable in different headings, i.e., 4202 and 8531, HTSUS.

In pertinent part, GRI 2(b) states that:

[t]he classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3.

GRI 3(a) directs that the headings are regarded as equally specific when they each refer to part only of the materials contained in composite goods, or of the items in a set put up for retail sale. Whether the separate headings in this case are regarded as equally specific depends upon whether the case and the alarm device constitute a composite good or a set put up for retail sale.

We look to GRI 3(b), which states in part that:
goods...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.

As with GRI 3(a) above, the applicability of GRI 3(b) is dependent upon whether the complete article is deemed to comprise a composite good or a set. In pertinent part, Explanatory Note IX to GRI 3(b) indicates that:

For 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.

In this instance, the alarm and carrying case are separable but not mutually complementary nor adapted to be used together. The case is designed to store, carry, and/or protect any small item -4-
or items. The alarm is designed to warn that a user's purse has been tampered with or removed. Such alarms and cases are types of items normally offered for sale separately. Therefore, we find that the alarm and carrying case do not comprise a composite good.

With respect to whether the article may be classified as a set, Explanatory Note X(b) to GRI 3(b) provides, in pertinent part, the following guidance:

For the purposes of this Rule, the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall be taken to mean goods which: consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity....

As noted above, the alarm produces warning sounds and the case stores, carries, and/or protects a small item. Since the components meet separate needs and accomplish divergent activities, we find that the individual components do not form a set.

We next note that certain cases or containers may be classified with the articles they are designed to hold if the requirements of GRI 5(a) are met. In pertinent part, GRI 5(a) states that:

Camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, drawing instrument cases, necklace cases and similar containers, specially shaped or fitted to contain a specific article or set of articles, suitable for long-term use and entered with the articles for which they are intended, shall be classified with such articles when of a kind normally sold therewith.

The carrying case is suitable for long-term use and is imported to be sold with an article it is able to contain. It is not, however, specially shaped or fitted to contain the alarm device, and such cases are not normally sold with alarms. Therefore, GRI 5(a) does not operate to render the carrying case classifiable with the alarm.

You cite to Headquarters Ruling Letters (HQ) 958759, issued March 21, 1996, and HQ 087870, issued February 13, 1991, to support the contention that the case should be classified under heading 8531, HTSUS, since the alarm would provide the essential -5-
character of a composite article. In HQ 958759, this office held that a pair of slippers and a matching travel pouch comprised a composite article that was classified in a footwear provision. Unlike the components of this case, the slippers and pouch were of the same color, were composed of the same material, and shared similar features such as satin-like bows and trim. It was found that the components were adapted to be used together, and that the pouch was not of a kind likely to be sold independently to carry other personal effects. We noted that slippers are not always sold with pouches, but that storage of the slippers in the pouch during travel would help to keep them together and protect other clothing from any dirt the slippers might pick up.

In HQ 087870, this office held that a pair of power speculars (vision aids similar to binoculars but worn like eyeglasses), a textile cord, and a carrying case, comprised a composite good that was classified under heading 9005, HTSUS, the heading pertinent to the speculars component which imparted the article's essential character. Unlike the "PurseGuard" components, it was found that the three specular components would not normally be offered for sale separately. Binoculars and eyeglasses are also normally sold with cases. The carrying case for the speculars was composed of plastic sheeting material and had features which included a nylon top zipper closure, a front storage pocket, a swagger handle, and loops allowing it to be worn on a belt. Since classification of the complete article had been determined by the application of GRI 3(b), the question as to whether the case was specially shaped or fitted (so as to be classified in the same provision as its contents pursuant to GRI 5) was said to be immaterial. In light of our findings that the alarm device and carrying case are not well adapted to one another, are of a kind normally offered for sale separately, and that the case is not specially shaped or fitted for the alarm, the two components must be classified separately. See also HQ 958718, issued August 28, 1996.


The individual components of the "PurseGuard" alarm with carrying case, identified by model no. 08135, are separately classified as follows:

The carrying case is classified in subheading 4202.32.9550, HTSUSA, textile category 670, the provision for "Articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag...With outer surface of textile materials...Of man-made fibers." The general column one duty rate is 19.3 percent ad valorem. -6-

The alarm device is classified in subheading 8531.80.8040, HTSUSA, the provision for "Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels, burglar or fire alarms)...Other sound signaling apparatus." The general column one duty rate is 1.9 percent ad valorem.

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 applicable to textile merchandise, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

NY A87907, issued October 15, 1996, is hereby affirmed.


Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: