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HQ 962073

August 19, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 962073 DWS


TARIFF NO.: Various

Mr. Miguel Ruiz
Miami International Forwarders
1801 NW 82 Avenue
Miami, FL 33126-1013

RE: Reconsideration of NYs C88781 and C88782; Sewing Kits

Dear Mr. Ruiz:

This is in response to your letter of July 24, 1998, on behalf of Dyno Merchandise Corporation, requesting reconsideration of NY rulings C88781 and C88782, both dated July 2, 1998, concerning the classification of sewing kits under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


NY C88781 dealt with a sewing kit comprised of scissors, tape measure, sewing and knitting gauge, tracing wheel, pins, key chain, pin cushion with emery sharpener, needles in compact, needle threader, thimble and seam ripper. NY C88782 dealt with a sewing kit comprised of scissors, tape measure, sewing and knitting gauge, tracing wheel, pins, emery board, pin cushion with emery sharpener, needles in compact, needle threader, thimble, and seam ripper.


Whether, in accordance with GRI 3(b), the sewing kits constitute sets.


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.

GRI 3(b) states that:

[m]ixtures, 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.

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). In part, Explanatory Note 3(b)(X) (p.4) states that:

[f]or 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 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).

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.

In NYs C88781 and C88782, Customs held that the subject sewing kits constitute GRI 3(b) sets with the scissors imparting the essential character of each set. You claim that Customs held that the key chain and emery board, based upon the de minimis rule, are incidental to the other items in the kits, thereby not disqualifying the kits from classification as sets.

You argue that because the key chain and emery board are contained within the sewing kits of NYs C88781 and C88782, respectively, the kits do not constitute GRI 3(b) sets as the key chain and emery board do not contribute to the function of sewing.

We first note that a de minimis rule is not provided for in GRI 3(b) or in the Explanatory Notes for GRI 3(b). However, we have dealt with the application of the rule to GRI 3(b) sets in HQ 950466, dated January 6, 1998. See also HQ 953472, dated March 21, 1994. In HQ 950466, which dealt with, in part, whether a sticker disqualified an electric lace system from constituting a GRI 3(b) set, we stated that:

[u]nder the de minimis rule, a component which is merely an incidental or immaterial element of an entire article, does not enhance its value, and has no commercial purpose, is disregarded for classification purposes. Tuscany Fabrics, Inc. v. United States, 65 Cust. Ct. 182, 317 F. Supp. 741 (1970), aff'd, 59 C.C.P.A. 77, C.A.D. 1043, 454 F.2d 1188 (1972), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 845, 34 L.Ed 2d 85, 93 S.Ct 47 (1972). Examining the specific commercial purposes toward which the laces and clips are packaged together as a set, supra, it is clear that the addition of the sticker (1) does not enhance the value of the set, (2) is merely incidental to the set, and (3) has no viable commercial purpose legitimately connected to the set. The sticker is considered de minimis; therefore, it is ignored when determining that the entire package is a set for retail sale.

Unlike the sticker in HQ 950466, the key chain and the emery board contained within the respective sewing kits are not incidental to the kits. Both items possess a utilitarian purpose which is no less useful than any of the remaining items of the kits. Although the key chain and emery board do not contribute to the function of sewing, they do possess other unrelated commercial purposes (i.e., holding keys, nail manicure). Therefore, we find that the de minimis rule is inapplicable in determining whether the subject sewing kits constitute GRI 3(b) sets.

Based upon the above analysis, it is our position that the sewing kits fail requirement (b) of Explanatory Note 3(b)(X), and therefore do not constitute GRI 3(b) sets.

In both NYs C88781 and C88782, Customs cites NY 895893, issued to you on April 19, 1994, as precedent for qualifying the sewing kits as GRI 3(b) sets. However, in NY 895893, all of the components contained within the sewing kit at issue contributed together to the function of sewing. As such is not the case with the subject sewing kits, the holding in NY 895893 is inapplicable to the classification of these kits.

We note that neither the key chain nor the emery board is mentioned in the items listed on the back of the packaging of the respective sewing kits. Also, no compartments exist in the packaging of the respective sewing kits for the key chain or emery board. Customs may issue binding rulings for prospective transactions only. See section 177.1(a)(1), Customs Regulations [19 CFR 177.1(a)(1)]. We are concerned that the omission of the key chain and emery board from the respective lists of sewing kit contents, and the lack of compartments in the packaging, is evidence that prospective importations of such kits, as presented to Customs, may not have been intended.


The sewing kits do not constitute GRI 3(b) sets. Therefore, each of the items contained within the kits must be separately classifiable in the HTSUS provisions describing them.


NYs C88781 and C88782 are revoked in full.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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