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HQ 964009

November 29, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 964009 RH


TARIFF NO.: 4819.20.0040; 9903.08.10

Ms. Eleanore Kelly-Kobayashi, Esq.
Rode & Qualey
295 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

RE: Tariff Classification of a Folding Carton; Heading 4819

Dear Ms. Kelly-Kobayashi:

This is in reply to your submissions of March 30, June 6, and June 30, 2000, on behalf of CDE Cartondruck – Embadac U.S.A., Inc., requesting a ruling on the classification of containers imported from Germany.


The merchandise in question is a paperboard container that will be used as a gift box by cosmetic and fragrance companies. It is six sided and measures approximately 7 inches high when the lid is closed, and approximately 4½ inches by 6 inches at the base and top. Flat and folded, it measures 11½ inches by 8¼ inches. It is not colored or surface-decorated.

You seek expedited treatment for your ruling request stating that the goods are “potentially classifiable as ‘folding cartons’ in subheading 4819.20 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).” In your opinion, however, the Cartondruck container is classifiable under subheading 4819.50, HTSUSA, as other packing containers.

Merchandise entered under subheading 4819.20, HTSUSA, is currently on the list of products subject to increased duties (100 percent in this case) as a result of the European Communities not complying with dispute settlement rulings in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Banana case. The merchandise is under review by the Office of the United States Trade Representative to determine if it should remain on the list and/or if it should be subject to higher duties. See, Federal Register Notice dated May 31, 2000, concerning the review of the list. It is available on the United States Trade Representative web site (www.ustr.gov.).


What is the correct tariff classification of the Cartondruck container described above?


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 HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

Heading 4819 encompasses:

Cartons, boxes, cases, bags and other packing containers, of paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibers; box files, letter trays, and similar articles, of paper or paperboard of a kind used in offices, shops or the like.

The EN to the first part of the heading (before the semicolon) covering “Cartons, boxes, cases and other packing containers” reads:

This group covers containers of various kinds and sizes generally used for the packing, transport, storage or sale of merchandise, whether or not also having a decorative value. The heading includes cartons, boxes, cases, bags, cones, packets, casks, paperboard drums (containers), whether manufactured by rolling or by any other method, and whether or not fitted with reinforcing circular bands of other materials, tubular containers for
posting documents, protective garment bags, jars, pots and the like (e.g., for milk or cream), whether or not waxed. The heading also covers special purpose paper bags such as bags for vacuum cleaners, bags for travel sickness, and record boxes and sleeves.

You concede that the Cartondruck is covered by the first part of the heading, but argue that it does not fit the description of a folding carton, box or case. The EN to heading 4819 states that folding carton, boxes and cases are:

- cartons, boxes and cases in the flat in one piece, for assembly by folding and slotting (e.g., cake boxes);

- containers assembled or intended to be assembled by means of glue, staples, etc., on one side only, the construction of the container itself providing the means of forming the other sides, although, where appropriate, additional means of fastening, such as adhesive tape or staples may be used to secure the bottom or lid.

In your opinion, the merchandise cannot be classified as a folding carton, box or case because it has a more complex construction than the examples in the EN. For instance, the carton at issue is glued in several different locations, as opposed to “on one side only.” You also argue that it is not flat and in one piece.

We examined the carton and pulled apart the pieces that were glued together. The body of the carton is glued along only one side. Moreover, although the design is more intricate than a simple cake box it is "in one piece." It is assembled into a container from its flattened condition by gently pressing on the sides until it reaches its six-sided shape.

The bottom or base has several tabs that are glued together. The examples in the EN state that “additional means of fastening, such as adhesive tape or staples may be used to secure the bottom or lid.” Emphasis added. This is not an all-inclusive list of processing and, therefore, we find that the fact that the base is glued instead of taped or stapled irrelevant.

You also cite Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 087690, dated December 7, 1990, in support of your claim that the carton is classifiable in subheading 4819.50, HTSUSA. The merchandise in that ruling is readily distinguishable from the Cartondruck container. The merchandise in HQ 087690 was a container for a compact disc.

It was assembled by gluing a folded sheet in three locations on two internal surfaces. We held that this folded inner partition was an integral part of the box’ structure and that it was “clearly more ejusdem generis to the record sleeves referred to [in] subheading 4819.50, HTSUSA.”

Accordingly, we find that the Cartondruck container is the type of merchandise covered by the first part of heading 4819, and more specifically, as a folding carton in subheading 4819.20.0040, HTSUSA.


The CDE Cartondruck container at issue is classifiable under subheading 4819.20.0040, HTSUSA, as an other folding carton of paperboard. Articles classifiable under that tariff provision are currently subject to 100 percent duty under subheading 9903.08.10, HTSUSA, pursuant to temporary trade legislation.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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