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HQ 957618

March 1, 1995

CLA-2 CO:R:CT 957618 ch

CATEGORY : Classification

TARIFF NO.: 4202.91.0090

Vicki Houchen
World Commerce Systems, Ltd.
P.O. Box 66593
O'Hare Field
Chicago, Illinois 60666

RE: Tariff classification of a stationery kit; memorandum pad; essential character imparted by case.

Dear Ms. Houchen:

This is in response to your letter, dated Octer 19, 1994, requesting tariff classification ounder Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United Sttes (HTSUS) for a stionery kit. A sample was sent to this office for examination.


The submitted sample, style 4617, is comprised of a zippered case with outer surface of leather, a memorandum pad slipped into a slot on one interior wall, and various stationery articles which are affixed to the opposite interior wall by means of fitted elastic loops or a small pocket (e.g. scissors, pen, pencil, ruler, tape dispenser/pencil sharpener, stapler, highlight marker, staple remover, paper clips, staples, eraser). The case measures approximately 8« inches by 12« inches by 1 inch in its clsoed position.


What is the proper tariff classification for the stationery kit?


The kit consists of various stationery articles and a leather folder which are individually classifiable in different headings within the tariff schedule. These items have been packaged so that they may be sold directly to the consumer as a unit. General Rule of Interpretation (GRI)3(b) states in pertinent part that 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. The Explanatory Note (EN) to GRI 3(b), at page 4, provides in part that:

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 product 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).

The kit is comprised of articles which have been put up together to meet the demands or needs of an office or school. The kit gathers in one place implements for drafting, editing, collating and organizing documents and materials. Pursuant to GRI 3(b), we conclude that the sttionery kit qualifies as a set for classification purposes. Therefore, the kit shall be classified under the tariff provision for the component which imparts the essential character to the set.

Heading 4820, HTSUS, provides in part ofr memorandum pads and other articles of stationery, of paper or paperboard. In prior decisions concerning similar folderes or cases imported with paper pads, we have classified the goods as memorandum pads of heading 4820. In these determinations, we have characterized the cases as jackets or covers which merely emphasize the purpose of thearticle as a place to take notes. Consequently, the pad imparted the essential character to these items and they were reqarded as articles "of paper or paperboard." See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 956497, dated August 3, 1994; HRL 951076, dated March 18, 1992.

However, in this instance the paper pad does not impart the essential character to the stationery kit. The role of the pad in relation to the kit differs from the role played by the paper in the decisions set forth above. The pad is merely one of numerous
stationery articles which have been placed into the folder and is no more important to the assembled kit as, for example, the tape measure, stapler, scissors, pen or pencil.
For this reason, we conclude that the article is not "of paper or paperboard" and is excluded from heading 4820.

HRL 953916, dated June 11, 1993, concerned the tariff classification of a stationery kit consisting of paper, note cards, envelopes, and a bal point pen which had been packaged in a metal tin. We noted that:

In prior rulings, we have concluded that the container provides the essential character to substantially similar kits or sets. See Headquarters Ruling Letter
(HRL) 088323, dated June 7, 1991 (Pencil box containing pens, pencils, ruler and sharpener classified as a set, with the container providing its essential character); HRL 087026, dted July 24, 1990 (Pencil puch containing pencil ruler and eraser classified as a set, with the puch lending its essential character); HRL 086774, dated July 17, 1990 (Stationery and pencil boxes containing various items classified as a set, with the container providing their essential character). In these decisions, the container imparted the essential character to the set when it possessed one or more of the following features:

1. It comprised a substantial portion of the bulk and value of the set;

2. Was suitable for repeated use(even after the writing implements and paper were used);

3. Served a decorative or useful purpose that played an essential role in the marketing of the kit;

4. Was designed specifically and carefully for its particular use.

The relative importance of these features will vary on a case-by-case basis.

You have indicated that the leather case comprises approximately one-third of the value of the completed kitand exceeds the value of the pad and any single one of the stationery articles. The folder is attractive, durable and serves as an organizational tool for its contents. In light of our administrative precedent, we are of the opinion that the leather case imparts the essential character to the stationery kit.

Containers for stationery sets have sometimes been classified in heading 4202,
HTSUS. See HRL 087026, dated July 24, 1990; HRL 084960, dated September 28,
1989. The heading provides for:

Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; traveling bags, toiletry bags, knapsacks and backpacks, handbags, shopping bags, wallets, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches, tool bags, sports bags, bottle cases, jewelry boxes, leather, of sheeting of plastics, of texitle materials, of vulcanized fiber or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper.

In totes, Incorporated v. United States, Slip Opinion 94-154, the Court of International
Trade held that "the essential characteristics and purpose of the Heading 4202 exemplars are to... organize, store, protect and carry various items." Containers for stationery kits outside the scope of heading 4202 ahve been classified according to their constituent materials. HRL 953916, dated June 11, 1993; HRL 088323, dated
June 7, 1991, HRL 086774, dated July 17, 1990; HRL 084715, dated August 24, 1989.

Heading 4202 provides in part for certain cases which are specially shaped or fitted to hold their contents and suitable for long-term use,. For example, the EN tp heading 4202, at page 613, specifies that jewelry boxes sold at retail with their contents must be fitted and suitable for long-term use to be classified in the heading.
In addition, the heading sets forth exemplars, such as musical instrument cases and gun cases, which are usually fitted and designed for repetitive use. Such containers are designed to specifically accommodate their contents and normally have no use as general purpose carrying or storing containers. Containers meeting this description are designed to carry, store and protect their contents.

The instant case is fitted with elastic loops, a pocket and a slot to hold specific stationery articles. Moreover, the case is designed suitable for repetitive use. Thus, it has been designed to specifically accommodate its contents and has no value as a general purpose carrying or storing container. It functions as a means by which to carry, store and protect certain stationery articles. Accordingly, we conclude that the stationery kit is dexribed by heading 4202, HTSUS.


The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 4202.91.0090,

HTSUS, which provides in part for camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, jewelry boxes: with outer surface of leather, of composition leather or of patent leather, other. The applicable rate of duty is 6.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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