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NY F83529

March 24, 2000

CLA-2-39:RR:NC:SP:221 F83529


TARIFF NO.: 3920.30.0000; 3926.10.0000; 4202.92.4500; 9023.00.0000

Mr. John Colomaio
Trans-Border Customs Services, Inc.
625 Delaware Avenue, Suite 210
Buffalo, NY 14202

RE: The tariff classification of teaching aids from China.

Dear Mr. Colomaio:

In your letter dated February 23, 2000, on behalf of Instructional Materials Group, LLC, you requested a tariff classification ruling.

Five samples were submitted with your request. Sample 1 is identified as an assortment of overhead polygons. This sample consists of 273 pieces of various sizes, shapes and colors of translucent shapes including triangles, squares, rectangles and other polygons. The shapes are made of polystyrene plastic and measure 2.5 mm in thickness. They are packaged inside a transparent zippered vinyl bag. The bag measures 11 ½ inches by 7 ½ inches and has sewn seams. The bag is not designed in a manner that dedicates it for use solely or principally with its contents, but is of a class or kind similar to a travel purse or toiletry bag designed to contain personal effects during travel. The bag and its contents function independently from one another. The bag provides storage, protection, organization and portability to the shapes and is of a kind normally sold without the contents. Therefore, the bag and its contents do not constitute a set, and the components are separately classifiable.

Sample 2 is identified as an assortment of overhead geo shape tracers. This sample consists of twelve different geometric shapes packaged in a reclosable plastic bag. The shapes are made of translucent green PVC sheet and measure .3 mm in thickness. The shapes include one square, one rectangle, and ten other shapes. In this case, the components constitute a set, with the essential character imparted by the non-rectangular shapes.

Sample 3 is identified as an assortment of overhead algebra tiles. This sample consists of 50 pieces of translucent colored tiles packaged in a reclosable plastic bag. All of the tiles are in the shapes of squares or rectangles. The tiles are made of polystyrene plastic and measure 3 mm in thickness.

Sample 4 is identified as an overhead geoboard. The geoboard is a 6 inch square board made of translucent polystyrene, packaged together with a set of 25 rubber bands in two different sizes and five different colors in a heat sealed plastic bag. The board is molded to incorporate 25 projections or “pegs” on one surface, forming a grid. Each peg is identified with a letter of the alphabet molded next to it. In addition both the horizontal rows and the vertical columns are labeled with molded numbers from 1 to 5 to show the coordinate axes. The geoboard set is used by a teacher to demonstrate various geometric concepts. The teacher may place the rubber bands around the pegs to form different polygons, and to demonstrate shapes, relationships, and concepts such as area, perimeter, congruence and symmetry.

Sample 5 is identified as an opaque geoboard. This is similar to sample 4, except it cannot be used with an overhead projector. The geoboard is a 7 ¼ inch square opaque board with a grid formed by 25 projections or "pegs” on one side. In addition, it has 12 pegs on the reverse side that can be used to form a circle, 4 pegs to form a square around the circle and a peg in the middle of the circle. The pegs in the circular array are spaced at 30 degree intervals. The geoboard is imported with rubber bands in different sizes and colors. By draping the bands around various pegs, the teacher can demonstrate mathematical concepts such as perimeter, area, radius and diameter.

You suggest classification in heading 9023, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for "instruments, apparatus and models, designed for demonstrational purposes (for example, in education or exhibitions), unsuitable for other uses, and parts and accessories thereof." In the opinion of this office, the geoboards meet this description, while the polygons, geo shape tracers and algebra tiles do not. The Explanatory Notes to the HTS constitute the official interpretation of the tariff schedule at the international level. The Explanatory Notes covering heading 9023, HTS, list articles such as demonstrational machines, anatomical models, training dummies, relief maps and military tank simulators. The geoboards may be said to meet a very broad definition of the term “model” or “apparatus,” since they are three-dimensional teaching tools with protrusions that are spaced and labeled for specific purposes. However, the tiles and other shapes are not even remotely similar to any of the eleven items listed in the Explanatory Notes. Not even the broadest interpretation of the terms "instruments, apparatus and models" could be said to encompass general purpose flat shapes. Also, although the shapes may be used in conjunction with other materials as part of a lesson, they themselves do not illustrate or demonstrate any mathematical concept. They are merely flat shapes, which possess no marks, features or functions that particularly suit them for use in demonstrating any particular concept, theory or principle.

In addition, classification in heading 9023 requires that the articles be unsuitable for other uses. The shapes are general purpose articles that may be used in home or play settings as well as in educational settings. The shapes may be used for tracing, drawing or designing patterns, for play activities of color or shape sorting or stacking, or even for craft activities. We note that the marketing literature included with your request illustrates the possible use of some of these shapes in the design of quilts. On the other hand, the geoboards have no practical use for purposes other than demonstrating mathematical concepts. Although the rubber bands in Samples 4 and 5 are suitable for other uses, their function, cost and bulk are clearly subsidiary to that of the geoboards.

The applicable subheading for the vinyl zipper bag in Sample 1 will be 4202.92.4500, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for travel, sports, and similar bags, other. The rate of duty will be 20% ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for the squares and rectangles in Sample 1, and for Sample 3, the overhead algebra tiles, will be 3920.30.0000, HTS, which provides for other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics, noncellular and not reinforced, laminated, supported or similarly combined with other materials: of polymers of styrene. The rate of duty will be 5.8 percent ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for the shapes in Sample 1 other than squares and rectangles, as well as for Sample 2, the set of overhead geo shape tracers, will be 3926.10.0000, HTS, which provides for other articles of plasticsoffice or school supplies. The rate of duty will be 5.3 percent ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for Sample 4, overhead geoboards, and Sample 5, geoboards, will be 9023.00.0000, HTS, which provides for instruments, apparatus and models, designed for demonstrational purposes (for example, in education or exhibitions), unsuitable for other uses, and parts and accessories thereof. The rate of duty will be free.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Joan Mazzola at 212-637-7034.


Robert B. Swierupski

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