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HQ 959719

October 21, 1997

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 959719 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 1404.90.00

Mr. Stuart D. Schmidt
Emery Customs Brokers
6940C Engle Road
Middleburg Heights, OH 44130

RE: Flower Stickers; Explanatory Notes 39.19 and 3(b)(VIII); Composite Goods;
GRI 3(b); 3919.90.50

Dear Mr. Schmidt:

This is in response to your letter of June 26, 1996, on behalf of Berea Hardwood Co., to the Port Director of Customs, Cleveland, Ohio, concerning the classification of dried flower stickers under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was forwarded to this office for a reply. We regret the delay in our response.


The merchandise consists of flower stickers, each sticker comprised of a dried, pressed flower blossom, and vacuum-sealed between two round or oval shaped discs of clear plastic. The discs are backed with an adhesive and are mounted on a plastic card. Nine different flower stickers are mounted on the sample card. The stickers will be used as decorative items for cards, gifts, etc. Based upon the submitted component material breakdowns of each sticker, the flower comprises approximately 27% of the weight and 50% of the value, the plastic discs comprise approximately 27% of the weight and 25% of the value, and the plastic mounting card comprises approximately 45% of the weight and 25% of the value.


Whether the flower stickers are classifiable under subheading 1404.90.00, HTSUS, as other vegetable products not elsewhere specified or included, or under subheading 3919.90.50, HTSUS, as other self-adhesive plates, sheets, film, foil, tape, strip and other flat shapes, of plastics and whether or not in rolls.


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.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

1404.90.00: [v]egetable products not elsewhere specified or included: [o]ther.

Goods classifiable under this provision receive duty-free treatment.

3919.90.50: [s]elf-adhesive plates, sheets, film, foil, tape, strip and other flat shapes, of plastics, whether or not in rolls: [o]ther: [o]ther.

The general, column one rate of duty for goods classifiable under this provision is 5.8 percent ad valorem.

It has been suggested that the flower stickers are described under subheading 3919.90.50, HTSUS, and, based upon GRI 1, they are so classifiable. In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). Explanatory Note 39.19 (p. 617) states that:

[t]his heading covers all self-adhesive flat shapes of plastics, whether or not in rolls, other than floor, wall or ceiling coverings of heading 39.18. The heading is, however, limited to flat shapes which are pressure-sensitive, i.e., which at room temperature, without wetting or other addition, are permanently tacky (on one or both sides) and which firmly adhere to a variety of dissimilar surfaces upon mere contact, without the need for more than finger or hand pressure.

It should be noted that this heading includes articles printed with motifs, characters or pictorial representations, which are not merely incidental to the primary use of the goods (see Note 2 to Section VII).

It appears that the plastic disc components of the flower stickers are classifiable under heading 3919, HTSUS. However, it is our position that the heading does not describe the entire flower sticker. Although the heading allows for articles printed with certain representations, it states nothing concerning articles such as the flower stickers, consisting of real dried flowers vacuum-sealed in between two plastic discs. Based upon a GRI 1 analysis, the flower stickers are beyond the scope of heading 3919, HTSUS, and are precluded from classification therein.

As there is no HTSUS heading which covers all of the components of the flower stickers, it is necessary to resort to GRI 3. It states that:

[w]hen, 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.

(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

Headings in chapters 14 and 39, HTSUS, each refer to part only of the components of the flower stickers. Accordingly, no HTSUS heading provides a specific description of the flower stickers. Therefore, we must refer to GRI 3(b).

Because, based upon GRI 3(b), the components of the flowers stickers constitute composite goods, they are classifiable as if consisting of the component which gives the flower stickers their essential character.

Explanatory Note 3(b)(VIII) (p. 4) states 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 a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

It is our position that the dried flower imparts the essential character of the flower stickers, in that it plays a primary role in the use of the stickers. Although the other components are important to the use of the stickers, it is the flowers which will draw a customer to purchase the stickers and use them on gifts, cards, etc. Therefore, the flower stickers are classifiable under subheading 1404.90.00, HTSUS.


In accordance with GRI 3(b), the flower stickers constitute composite goods, and are classifiable under subheading 1404.90.00, HTSUS, as other vegetable products not elsewhere specified or included.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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