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HQ 962364

December 8, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 962364 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.1500

Ms. Ludene Murphree
The GAP, Inc.
One Harrison Street
San Francisco, California 94105

RE: Classification of "Tote Bags;" Travel, Sports and Similar Bags; Not Handbags; Subheadings 4202.92 and 4202.22

Dear Ms. Murphree:

This letter is in response to your request of October 12, 1998, concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of three styles of travel bags manufactured in China. Samples were submitted with your request.


The sample bags at issue, identified by style numbers 597318, 597494, and 597496, each measure approximately 9 inches in height by 11-1/2 inches in width. Each bag has a "T" gusset at the bottom which allows the bag to expand and to measure approximately 3 inches in depth. Due to a tapered design, the bags measure approximately 8-3/4 inches in width at the bottom.

Style 597318 is composed of 100 percent cotton denim fabric. It features one interior compartment, two textile carrying handles, and a zippered closure across the top. The bag has no lining and no additional interior or exterior pockets.

Style 597494 is composed of 100 percent cotton canvas fabric, but is otherwise essentially identical to style 597318, featuring one interior compartment, two textile carrying handles, a zippered closure, and no lining or additional pockets.

Style 597496 is composed of 100 percent cotton gingham fabric. The bag has an open top (no closure) and two textile carrying handles which match the bag's fabric. The bag's interior has a lining and a small, open top, flat pocket attached to one wall. Tethered to the top of the bag by a strip of textile fabric (printed with the words "Old Navy") is a cotton fabric, zippered coin purse that measures approximately 4 inches in width by 2-1/2 inches in height.


Whether the merchandise is classified in subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, as handbags, or in subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, as travel bags other than handbags.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

Among other articles, heading 4202, HTSUSA, covers traveling bags, toiletry bags, handbags, and similar containers. Subheading 4202.92, HTSUS, provides in part for travel, sports and similar bags. Additional U.S. Note 1 to chapter 42, HTSUS, states that:

[f]or the purposes of heading 4202, the expression "travel, sports and similar bags" means goods, other than those falling in subheadings 4202.11 through 4202.39, of a kind designed for carrying clothing and other personal effects during travel, including backpacks and shopping bags of this heading....

Subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, provides for handbags. The word "handbag" is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1972, as: "1. a small container for money, toilet articles, keys, etc., carried by women; purse 2. a small suitcase or valise."

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 957917, issued July 7, 1995, this office reconsidered and reclassified in subheading 4202.92.1500, HTSUS, a woven cotton bag which measured approximately 14 inches by 10 inches by 5 inches. The bag had a reinforced open top with double carrying straps, but no lining and no pockets or compartments. We stated that tote bags similar to those described immediately above were no longer classifiable as handbags, and that such bags were to be regarded as multipurpose bags for carrying various personal effects.

In HQ 950708, issued December 24, 1991, we observed judicial guidance as to the attributes of tote bags and women's handbags. We noted that certain tote bags which had no linings or reinforcements, no pockets, no closures (or only single snap closures), provided little protection for their contents and were unlikely to be used in a manner similar to a woman's handbag. We stated that such tote bags were used as multipurpose bags to carry any number of sundry articles, such as food, books, and/or clothing. Since the bags did not fit the terms of subheadings 4202.11 through 4202.39, but were a type of bag used to carry clothing and other personal effects during travel, they were considered to be travel, sports and similar bags within the meaning of Additional U.S. Note 1 to chapter 42, HTSUS. See also HQ 951113, issued May 19, 1992, affirming HQ 950708.

In HQ 955552, issued August 15, 1994, we classified an article described as both a "tote" and a "shoulder bag" in subheading 4202.22.6000, HTSUSA as a handbag. The bag measured approximately 14 inches in width by 9-1/2 inches in height by 4 inches in depth (at the bottom). The article had 2 shoulder straps, and was divided into 2 separate compartments, each of which had a zippered closure. One of the compartments also had a zippered change purse. The interior of the bag was lined and the bottom and corners were reinforced. It was found that the bag's design and construction - particularly its reinforcement, its straps, its inside zipper pocket, and its style of compartmentalization and zipper closures - strongly suggested an intended use by women and girls to carry personal items on a daily basis.

With respect to styles 597318 and 597494, we find that despite their zippered top closures, the coarse cotton construction and lack of any additional pockets or lining indicate that the bags are not designed or intended to be used as containers for the types of items normally carried in a woman's handbag. Further, although style 597496 is lined and has a flat interior pocket and a tethered coin purse, the bag's thin cotton construction and lack of any top closure provide offer little to
protect and secure contents such as spectacles, keys, and money. We find that all three styles are multipurpose bags for carrying various personal effects other than, or in addition to, those normally carried in a woman's handbag. The bags are classified as travel bags other than handbags.


The travel bags identified by style nos. 597318, 597494, and 597496, are classified in subheading 4202.92.1500, HTSUSA, textile category 369, the provision for "Travel, sports and similar bags: With outer surface of textile materials: Of vegetable fibers and not of pile or tufted construction: Of cotton." The general column one duty rate is 6.8 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

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


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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