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HQ 961206

September 21, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961206 RH


TARIFF NO.: 6307.90.9989

Mr. Mike Todd
Empire International
2901 W. Pacific Coast Highway
Suite 365
Newport Beach, CA 92663

RE: Modification of NY B88188; classification of a fabric-covered cardboard box imported with a ring inside; trinket box; jewelry box; heading 4202; heading 6307; GRI 5(a)

Dear Mr. Todd:

A copy of your letter dated July 24, 1997, concerning the classification of a jade ring and a fabric-covered cardboard box was forwarded to our office for review along with New York Ruling Letter (NY) B88188, issued to you on August 18, 1997, by the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division. In NY B88188, the box was classified along with the jade ring under subheading 7116.20.4000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as articles of precious or semiprecious stones, in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI) 5(a).

Prior to the issuance of NY B88188, you state that you imported the box and ring on two occasions. Upon the first importation, the articles were classified under the provisions set forth in the NY ruling. However, Customs detained the goods on the second importation and imposed visa and quota requirements. The specifics of that entry were not provided to us, and we assume for purposes of this ruling that the matter has been resolved.


The merchandise under consideration is a box composed of a paperboard base which is covered on the exterior with velvet fabric. The interior has a padded textile lining. The box also has a lid with a padded lining and latch closure. The box is square and comes in two sizes - approximately 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm x 4 cm and 8.5 cm x 8.5 cm x 4 cm. The box is imported with the jade ring inside. We note, however, that only the box was forwarded to our office for review.


What is the proper classification of the decorative box?


Classification under the HTSUSA is governed by the GRI's. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI's will be applied in sequential order.

The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System assist us in the classification of merchandise. The EN's constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. While not legally binding, they represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN's when interpreting the HTSUSA.

In NY B88188, classification of the jade ring, which is not is dispute, was under subheading 7116.20.4000, HTSUSA. The box was classified under the same provision as the ring in accordance with GRI 5(a), which reads:

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. This rule does not, however, apply to containers which give the whole its essential character;

The Explanatory Notes to GRI 5(a) state:

(I) This Rule shall be taken to cover only those containers which:

(1) are specially shaped or fitted to contain a specific article or set of articles, i.e., they are designed specifically to accommodate the article for which they are intended. Some containers are shaped in the form of the article which they contain;

(2) are suitable for long-term use, i.e., they are designed to have a durability comparable to that of the articles for which they are intended. These containers also serve to protect the article when not in use (during transport or storage, for example). These criteria enable them to be distinguished from simple packings;

(3) are presented with the articles for which they are intended, whether or not the articles are packed separately for convenience of transport. Presented separately the containers are classified in their appropriate headings;

(4) are of a kind normally sold with such articles; and

(5) do not give the whole its essential character.

In addition, the EN to GRI 5(a)(III) gives two examples of containers not covered by GRI 5(a) - "a silver caddy containing tea, or an ornamental ceramic bowl containing sweets."

After examining the box you sent us, we find that it, like a silver caddy, is neither specifically shaped nor fitted to hold a particular article. The box may hold various items, i.e., stamps, coins, earrings, pins, etc. Its use is limited only by the imagination of the ultimate consumer and the physical dimensions of the box. Accordingly, it does not qualify for classification with the ring in heading 7116, under the principles of GRI 5(a).

Additionally, since the box will be imported with a jade ring inside, we must consider whether those articles are a set under GRI 3(b). Explanatory Note X to GRI 3(b), which indicates that for purposes of the rule, the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" means goods which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are prima facie, classifiable in different headings;
(b) consist of products 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 subject goods only meet criteria (a) and are not classifiable as a set. Therefore, the ring and box will be classified separately. The jade ring was properly classified in NY B88188 under subheading 7116.20.4000. Several headings merit consideration for classification of the box. Under GRI 1, consideration is given to the tariff provision for containers of heading 4202, HTSUSA. This heading covers:

Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; travelling 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 EN's to heading 4202 state, in part, that:

The term "jewellery boxes" covers not only boxes specially designed for keeping jewellery, but also similar lidded containers of various dimensions (with or without hinges or fasteners) specially shaped or fitted to contain one or more pieces of jewellery and normally lined with textile material, of the type in which articles of jewellery are presented and sold and which are suitable for long-term use.

As stated above, the box in question may be used to hold a variety of items and is not specially designed for keeping jewelry. Thus, it is not classifiable as a jewelry box under heading 4202.

In previous rulings, Customs determined that boxes similar to the one at issue were "trinket boxes." Trinket boxes are not specially designed, shaped or fitted for jewelry. They are not specially constructed to fit any particular item, but like the box at issue, can be used to store various items. See, HQ 953393, dated April 16, 1993. In that ruling, Customs classified a small pentagon shaped box with a lid, which was constructed out of cardboard and covered with textile materials, in heading 6307, HTSUSA, a residual provision for other made up textile articles.

Moreover, in HQ 954706, dated February 1, 1994, Customs determined that two boxes used in the sale of jewelry products to retailers were trinket boxes classifiable under heading 6307, HTSUSA. One box was a small heart shape and the other box was in the shape of a pentagon. Both boxes were made of paperboard and covered with textile materials. An item of jewelry, such as a chain, bracelet, pendant, ring, earring, etc., was placed inside the box and sold at retail. Like the box under consideration, there were no inserts in the heart or pentagon shaped boxes - the jewelry merely rested on the cushioned interior. Since the boxes were not specially designed, shaped or fitted for jewelry, they were considered trinket boxes and were classified under heading 6307, as other textile articles, as opposed to jewelry boxes of heading 4202. The box at issue is also sold with jewelry inside, but like the boxes in HQ 954706, the instant box is not specially designed, shaped or fitted for jewelry and is properly described as a trinket box.

Trinket boxes are not specifically provided for in the terms of the HTSUSA, and, like the trinket boxes in HQ 954706 and HQ 953393, the instant box is a composite good. Thus, it cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1. Accordingly, we must look to the remaining GRI's, in order, to determine classification.

GRI 2 directs that "goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be classified according to the principles of rule 3." The box under consideration is constructed of cardboard and textile fabric. GRI 3(a), reads:

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.

The applicable headings in this case are 4823, HTSUSA, which provides for, among other things, other articles of paper or paperboard and 6307, HTSUSA, covering other made up articles of textile materials. As each heading refers to only part of the box, they are considered to be equally specific, rendering classification on the basis of specificity (GRI 3(a)) inapplicable.

Under GRI 3(b), articles composed of two or more materials are classified according to their essential character. In this case, the paperboard provides the structure for the box, but the textile fabric provides aesthetic appeal and marketability. As in HQ 953393 and HQ 954706, we are unable to conclude that any one of the component materials imparts the essential character. Therefore, we proceed to GRI 3(c).

GRI 3(c), provides that: "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." Under this rule, the boxes at issue are classifiable under heading 6307, HTSUSA.


The jade ring was properly classified in NY B88188, HTSUSA. However, that ruling is modified to reflect the correct classification of the paperboard boxes covered with textile fabric under subheading 6307.90.9989, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up articles, including dress patterns: other: other: other: other: other. The applicable rate of duty is 7% ad valorem.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant,
Commercial Rulings Division

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