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HQ 960968

November 30, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960968 BAS/jsj


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.9026

Ms. Julie Robinson
Trust Air Cargo (U.S.A.) Co.
1360 N. Wood Dale Road, Unit I
Wood Dale, Illinois 60191

RE: Classification of tool roll, “ladder caddy,” “ladderware”; Reconsideration of NY B85587.

Dear Ms. Robinson:

This is in reply to your undated letter, on behalf of Doubletree Products, Inc., requesting reconsideration of New York (NY) B85587, dated June 4, 1997. In that ruling, Customs classified your client’s merchandise, which Doubletree now refers to as “ladderware” and the Customs Service has previously referred to as a “ladder caddy,” under subheading 4202.92.9026 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). You contend that the “ladder caddy” should be classified under subheading 6307.90.9989, HTSUS, as an other made up article.

You submitted a sample of the “ladder caddy” or “ladderware” to aid us in our determination. It is the understanding of the Customs Service that the merchandise in issue may be manufactured in Taiwan, China or Viet Nam.


The merchandise under consideration, a “ladder caddy,” is made of man-made textile materials. It is designed to contain tools and accessories in various pockets and to be rolled up and secured closed like a tool roll. When unrolled, the article is designed to be used with a ladder by placing it over the top rung or step making the tools easily accessible.

The item features a series of interior pockets designed to contain tools and other accessories. In its unfolded condition, it measures approximately 29-½ inches (H) by 16 inches (W). The item is rolled and secured by means of webbed textile straps with plastic slide lock fasteners.

The body of the bag is composed of 100 percent woven polyester, 600 denier x 300 denier with a water resistance coating. The strapping and the edge tram are 100 percent woven polypropylene. The strap lock is plastic and the rivets, D-rings, and snaps are composed of nickel plated cold rolled steel.


Whether the woven polyester “ladder caddy” or “ladderware” is classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUS, as a tool bag or similar container, or under heading 6307, HTSUS, as an other made-up textile article ?


Classification of imported merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States 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 GRIs may then be applied.

In NY B85587, Customs classified the “ladder caddy” in question under heading 4202, HTSUS. Heading 4202 provides:

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 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. (Emphasis added).

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) represent the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings). The EN’s facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI’s. While not legally binding, the EN’s represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has, therefore, been the practice of the Customs Service to follow the terms of the EN’s, when appropriate, when interpreting the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The EN to heading 4202 provides that the expression “similar containers” in the first part of the heading includes “hat boxes, camera accessory cases, cartridge pouches, sheaths for hunting or camping knives, portable tool boxes or cases, specially shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools with or without their accessories, etc.” The expression, “similar containers,” in the second part of the heading, that aspect of the heading after the semicolon, includes inter alia tool and jewelry rolls. Unlike tool boxes and tool cases, there is no requirement in the EN that tool rolls be specially shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools.

In the instant case, the “ladder caddy” is ejusdem generis or “of the same kind” of merchandise as tool bags listed in heading 4202. It is also similar to tool rolls that are referred to in the EN’s.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case of Totes v. United States, 69 F.3d 495 (Fed. Cir. 1995) addressed the principle of ejusdem generis in determining whether a trunk organizer was a “similar container” to the containers enumerated in heading 4202. The Court stated:

Under the rule of ejusdem generis, which means “of the same kind,” where an enumeration of specific things is followed by general word or phrase, the general word or phrase is held to refer to things of the same kind as those specified. As applicable to classification cases, ejusdem generis requires that the imported merchandise possess the essential characteristics or purposes that unite the articles enumerated eo nomine [by name] in order to be classified under the general terms. Id. at 498, citing Sports Graphics Inc. v. United States, 24 F. 3d 1390, 1392 (Fed. Cir. 1994).

The “ladder caddy” is a container similar to tool bags and tool rolls in that it possesses the essential characteristics or purposes of those articles, i.e. to organize, store, and protect tools. It is, therefore, classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUS.

You argue that the “ladder caddy” should be excluded from heading 4202 as it is not a luggage item used to carry tools but, rather, used to store them as a convenience when standing on a ladder. That argument is not persuasive for excluding the “ladder caddy” from heading 4202.

The Court of International Trade has held that “whether portability of the import is a primary or ancillary feature, is not legally controlling in its classification as ‘similar containers’ under Heading 4202.” Totes v. United States, 865 F. Supp. 867, 873 (Ct. Int’l Trade 1994), aff’d, 69 F.3d 495 (Fed. Cir. 1995). In Totes, the plaintiff’s counsel attempted to minimize the importance of the carrying capability of the trunk organizer in an effort to distinguish the item from other luggage items provided for in heading 4202. Id. at 872.

In discussing portability, the Totes Court analogized the purpose of the trunk organizer to other items classified in heading 4202, such as jewelry boxes, stating that the precise purpose of jewelry boxes is to organize, store and protect articles, and only incidentally, if at all, to transport the contents. See Id. at 873. The Court noted that while the trunk organizer is designed to be carried, there is no such carrying requirement for heading 4202. See id. The Court summarized its reasoning as follows: “the short of the matter is whether the carrying feature or organized storage feature of the container is the primary or secondary use is simply not a material issue in their classification under heading 4202.” Id. See also HQ 089182, dated January 21, 1992, (noting that similar containers listed in the second half of heading 4202 provide, among other things, storage and/or protection and/or portability).

Assuming arguendo that the carrying feature was a requirement for classification under heading 4202, the “ladder caddy” would still be properly classifiable under that heading as it can easily be rolled up and secured by two straps with another strap for carrying. The fact that one could not carry an open can of paint in the “ladder caddy” is not persuasive. The item might also be carried with a shoulder strap or handle, if shortened, from one ladder to the next while still open.

Finally, the Totes Court held that the trunk organizer was not classifiable under the basket provision for textile articles in subheading 6307.90.9986 because they are specifically provided for under heading 4202, and as such, excluded from classification under heading 6307 by the Explanatory Notes. See id. at 874. As the Court held in Totes, the merchandise in the instant case is not classifiable under the basket provision for textile articles in subheading 6307.90.9989 because it is specifically provided for under heading 4202.

Customs has classified merchandise that is almost identical to the subject merchandise, tool holders designed to be draped over the top of ladders with the possibility for transport as tool roll bags, under heading 4202, HTSUS. See PD B85327, dated May 30, 1997 (polyester stepladder tool holder) and NY D87622, dated February 16, 1999 (the B.D. Ladder Mate and the Extension Ladder Mate). In addition to the rulings just referenced, this ruling is consistent with HQ 959356, dated February 19, 1997, addressing tool holder organizers, and HQ 960245, dated September 12, 1997, classifying a tool roll-up organizer.

Having established that the proper heading for the “ladder caddy” is heading 4202, HTSUS, the merchandise must then be classified at the appropriate subheading level. GRI 6 provides that classification of merchandise in the subheadings of a heading is determined in accordance with the terms of the subheadings and any related subheading notes, applying GRI 1 through 5 to subheadings at the same level.

As the body of the item in issue is described by the importer as being composed of 100 percent woven polyester, the proper subheading for the “ladder caddy” is 4202.92.9026, HTSUS. Subheading 4202.92.9026 provides for “[t]runks, suitcasesand similar containers; travel bags, toiletry bagstool bagsand similar containersof textile materials: Other: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: Other: Other: With outer surface of textile materials: Other: Of man-made fibers.” (Emphasis added).


The “ladder caddy” in issue, with a body composed of 100 percent woven polyester, straps and edge tram composed of 100 percent woven polypropylene, plastic strap locks and nickel plated cold rolled steel rivets, is classified in subheading 4202.92.9026, HTSUS. Subheading 4202.92.9026 provides for “[t]runks, suitcasesand similar containers; travel bags, toiletry bagstool bagsand similar containersof textile materials: Other: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: Other: Other: With outer surface of textile materials: Other: Of man-made fibers.”

The general column one rate of duty is 18.6 percent, ad valorem.

The column two rate of duty is 45 percent, ad valorem.

Products of Viet Nam, according to General Note 3 (b) of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, are subject to the column two rates of duty.

The textile category is 670.

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) or restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

We note, according to your letter dated May 7, 1997, that the “ladder caddy” at issue is still in the developmental stage. This ruling is limited to the sample currently before the Customs Service. Should the product be changed or altered in any way prior to its final production, a new ruling will need to be issued.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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