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HQ 960462

December 16, 1997

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960462 RH


TARIFF NO.: 4202.12.2020

M. Barry Levy, Esq.
Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt, P.C. Sixty-seven Broad Street
New York, NY 10004

RE: Classification of a Vanity Train Case; heading 4202; paper coated with a sheeting of plastic; subheading 4202.12; "outer surface of"

Dear Mr. Levy:

This is in response to your letter dated April 15, 1997, requesting the tariff classification of a vanity train case. You submitted a sample of the merchandise to aid us in our determination.


The sample case has a handle on the top and a secure clasp closure. The interior has a vanity mirror fitted into the interior of the lid and a removable, sectional tray for accessories. The body of the case is constructed of plastic coated paper material. The respective weights and values of the component materials which comprise the Vanity Train Case are set out in your letter as follows:

Component Weight Value
- Metal parts 60 gr $0.58
- Double grey paper 950 gr 0.66
- Printed paper without plastic coating 65 gr 0.20 - Printed paper with plastic coating 110 gr 0.30 - Mirror 70 gr 0.07
- PVC fabric covering the handle 20 gr 0.12 - 100% cotton cord (in the handle) 20 gr 0.06 - 0.5 inch nylon ribbon 1 gr 0.01
- Foam 5 gr 0.03

The coated paper covers the outer case and the thickness of the plastic coating is 0.015 mm to 0.02 mm. The uncoated paper covers the inner tray.


What is the classification of the subject vanity train case?


Classification of goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in their appropriate order. Vanity cases are specifically listed in heading 4202, which 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, powder cases, cutlery cases and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of sheeting of plastics, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper.

The article in question is a vanity case or similar to a vanity case and, therefore, falls within heading 4202. The Explanatory Notes to heading 4202, HTSUSA, which constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, state that articles covered by the first part of the heading may be of any material.

The next issue concerns the subheading under which to classify the vanity case. At the six-digit level, the nomenclature classifies the majority of goods in Chapter 42 by the material which comprises the "outer surface." HQ 954021, dated November 1, 1993, citing HQ 087760, dated October 31, 1991, and HQ 087640, dated November 8, 1990. The term "outer surface of" is not defined in Chapter 42, nor anywhere else in the HTSUSA. In HQ 086775, dated July 9, 1990, Customs stated that the outer surface "is that which is both visible and tactile." See 954021 and the cases cited therein. "Tactile" is defined as follows: "1. Perceptible to the touch: TANGIBLE." "Tangible" is defined as follows: "1a. Discernible by the touch or capable of being touched." Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, (1984) at 1178 and 1182, respectively.

Moreover, for purposes of heading 4202, Customs resolved the issue of what is the "outer surface of" articles made with composite materials. See HQ 954021. Specifically, we addressed whether jewelry box frames which were made of plastic or metal and were covered with paper backings to which textile materials had been applied had an outer surface of textiles or paper. In reaching our conclusion, we said that Additional U.S. Note 2 of Chapter 42 is instructive in understanding the meaning of "outer surface of" when applied to composite materials [not specifically listed in that note]. Additional U.S. Note 2 of Chapter 42 provides:

For purposes of classifying articles under subheadings 4202.12, 4202.22, 4202.32 and 4202.92, articles of textile fabric impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics (whether compact or cellular) shall be regarded as having an outer surface of textile material or of plastic sheeting, depending upon whether and the extent to which the textile constituent or the plastic constituent makes up the exterior surface of the article.

Customs application of this note makes it clear that a composite material that is "of" textile for classification at the heading level may, nonetheless, have an "outer surface of" plastic for classification at the subheading level. HQ 954021, citing HQ 087640, HQ 087755, HQ 087210, dated May 10, 1991. In 954021, counsel argued that the paper covering would be a paper for both heading and subheading level classification [regardless of the external surface]. The argument in HQ 954021 was based on the logic that if the drafters of the Additional U.S. Notes intended that textile and paper combinations be treated in the same way that Additional U.S. Note 2, Chapter 42, treats plastic and textile combinations, they would have so specified. We disagreed with that argument and found that the absence of a note addressing paper and textile composite materials, or other composite materials (i.e., paper and plastic) did not evidence an intent to interpret the term "outer surface" differently when confronted with other component combinations. We held that the composite paper and textile flock material that covered the jewelry box was a paper for heading level classification (4202) but had an "outer surface of" textile material for subheading level classification (4202.92).

In this instance, the vanity case is completely covered with plastic coated paper. Accordingly, based on the principles of Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 42, and the rationale set forth in HQ 954021, we find that it is classifiable in subheading 4202.12.2020, HTSUSA.


The vanity case in question is classifiable in subheading 4202.12.2020, HTSUSA, which provides for, among other things, vanity cases, structured, rigid on all sides, with an outer surface of plastics. It is dutiable at the general rate of duty at 20 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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