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HQ 963533

February 8, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963533 JFS


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.3031

William Ng, Vice President
Sunnywood, Inc.
181 Pembroke Drive
Lake Forest, IL 60069

RE: Classification of Nylon Billiard Cue Carrying Case, 4202, HTSUSA, Sports Bags

Dear Mr. Ng:

This is in reply to your letter, dated November 16, 1999, on behalf of Sunnywood Inc., requesting a classification ruling concerning a nylon billiard cue case manufactured in China. You submitted a sample of the cue case to aid us in our determination.


The merchandise under consideration is a soft-sided fitted case specifically designed to carry, organize, store and protect one breakdown billiard cue. The container measures approximately 34” in height by 5” in width. The exterior surface is comprised of 100% woven nylon fabric. An adjustable shoulder strap composed of 100 percent polypropylene webbing is permanently attached to the spine of the case. The case is opened and closed by means of a zippered closure that extends across the top of the case and 6.5” down the side of the case. On the flat side of the case, approximately 6.75” from the zippered top, there is a pocket to hold billiard accessories secured by a flap with a hook and loop closure. The interior of the case is designed to hold one breakdown billiard cue. The interior is padded and lined with 100% woven brushed nylon fabric to protect the billiard cue. There is a woven nylon sleeve that extends vertically down the interior of the case that is designed to secure one half of the breakdown cue.


Whether the billiard cue case is classifiable as a travel, sports, or similar bag under heading 4202.92, of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) or, is it classifiable under 9504, HTSUSA, as an accessory for an article for parlor games including pinball machines, bagatelle and billiards?


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 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) and facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI. The Explanatory Notes (ENs), 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).

Heading 9504, HTSUSA, provides for “[a]rticles for arcade, table or parlor games, including pinball machines, bagatelle, billiards and special tables for casino games; automatic bowling alley equipment; parts and accessories thereof[.]” Subheading 9504.20, HTSUSA, encompasses, “[a]rticles, parts and accessories for billiards[.]” Without examining any other chapters or headings in the tariff, it would appear that the subject billiard cue case should be classified in 9504.20, HTSUSA, as an accessory for billiards. However, Legal Note 1(d) to Chapter 95 provides that the “chapter does not cover . . . sports bags or other containers of heading 4202.” Accordingly, it must be determined if the billiard cue case is a sports bag or “other container” under heading 4202, HTSUSA. If so, it is not classifiable in Chapter 95, HTSUSA.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides the following:

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, 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 plain language of heading 4202, HTSUSA, includes similar containers. The EN to heading 4202, HTSUSA, state that “the heading covers only the articles specifically named . . . and similar containers.” Under the rule of ejusdem generis, where an enumeration of specific things is followed by a general word or phrase, the general word or phrase is held to refer to things of the same kind as those specified. With respect to the broad reach of the residual provision for “similar containers” in heading 4202, HTSUSA, the courts have found that the rule of ejusdem generis requires that the imported merchandise possess the essential characteristics or purpose that unite the articles enumerated in order to be classified under the general term. Totes, Inc. v. United States, 18 Ct. Int’l Trade 919, 865 F. Supp. 867, 871 (1994), aff’d, 69 F.3d 495 (1995). In Totes, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the Court of International Trade’s determination that the “essential characteristics and purpose of Heading 4202 exemplars are. . . to organize, store, protect and carry various items.” The instant billiard cue case has the same essential characteristics, i.e., to organize, store, protect and carry items, as the containers listed in 4202, HTSUSA. Accordingly, applying the rationale set forth in Totes, the billiard cue case comes under the “similar container” language of 4202, HTSUSA.

The classification of the billiard cue case as a “similar” container under 4202, HTSUSA, is consistent with the following rulings: HQ 951084, dated March 9, 1993 (holding that a full length tennis racket cover designed to carry more than one racket as well as other items is properly classifiable in 4202, HTSUSA); HQ 085376, dated May 1, 1990 (ruling that a nylon bag designed for carrying a croquet set is classifiable under Heading 4202, HTSUSA, unless the bag was a component of a set, in which case it is classifiable under Chapter 95); and HQ 085918, dated March 2, 1990, (classifying a surf board bag with nylon webbing shoulder straps and handles in heading 4202, HTSUSA, because it is similar to the exemplars set forth in the EN to 4202, HTSUSA, and because it is designed to carry a personal effect, i.e., a surf board).

In contrast to the above listed rulings, in HQ 084694, dated August 29, 1989, Customs classified a tennis racket cover in subheading 9506.51.6000, HTSUSA, as an accessory to lawn-tennis rackets. Customs subsequently narrowed and distinguished this ruling in HQ 086567, dated May 14, 1990. The tennis racket case under consideration in the subsequent ruling, HQ 086567, was a fitted cover, designed to carry two rackets. It also had a pocket to hold balls and other small items. Customs ruled that the subsequent racket cover was a sports bag under 4202, HTSUSA, because (1) it was not designed for a particular racket, and (2) it had the capacity to carry small items other than the racket. Like the tennis racket cover in HQ 086567, the billiard cue case (1) is not uniquely designed to hold or cover a particular billiard cue, and (2) has a pouch that enables it to hold small items such as cue tips, chalk, resin, and gloves.

Subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, provides for similar containers not already provided for in the previous subheadings. Within subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, articles can be classified as travel, sports and similar containers. The EN to heading 4202, HTSUSA, state that “sports bags” includes articles such as golf bags, gym bags, tennis racket carrying bags, ski bags and fishing bags. Accordingly, Customs has classified bags and containers that are designed to carry a particular kind of sporting good as “sports bags.” See HQ 953747, dated June 10, 1993 (a sailboard mast carrying bag with woven straps is properly classifiable as a sports bag); HQ 086896, dated June 25, 1990 (ruling that a surfboard carrying bag with shoulder straps is properly classifiable as a sports bag, as opposed to Chapter 95, because it is similar in function to a ski and golf bag); HQ 087294, dated October 5, 1990 (holding that a full length tennis racket cover with a strap, and imported separately from the racket, is classifiable as a sports bag); and HQ 084684, dated July 21, 1989 (ruling that a player bag with two woven straps designed to carry softball bats, shoes, gloves and uniforms was sufficiently similar to the bags described in the EN to 4202, HTSUSA, to be considered a “sports bag”). See also, HQ 951084, HQ 085376, and HQ 085918, supra. Like the items listed above, the billiard cue case is properly classifiable as a “sports bag.”

The subject merchandise, having a 100% woven nylon shell, is properly classified under subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA, providing for sports bags with outer surface of textile materials: Other: Other: Of man-made fibers: Other.


The nylon billiard cue carrying case is properly classified in subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Trunks, suitcasessports bagsand similar containers: Other: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: Travel, sports and similar bags: With outer surface of textile materials: Other: Other: Of man-made fibers: Other.” The general column one rate of duty is 18.3 percent ad valorem. The textile category number 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.


John Durant, Director

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