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HQ 964193

April 9, 2001

CLA-2:RR:CR:TE 964193 JFS


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.9026

Ms. Diana Pfeiffer
Global Transportation Services, Inc.
1930 6th Ave. South
Seattle, WA 98134

RE: Binding Ruling Request; Classification of Travel Document Organizer.

Dear Mr. Hutchins:

This letter is in response to your request for a binding ruling, dated March 13, 2000, on behalf of Global Sourcing Partners, concerning the country of origin marking, and classification of two travel document organizers pursuant to the Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample was submitted and was considered prior to the issuance of this ruling.


The articles in question are identified as style numbers 90000 and 91000. Both styles are identical except for their outer surfaces. The outer surface of style number 90000 is composed of textile material, and the outer surface of style 91000 is composed of leather. Because only a sample of style number 91000 was available for consideration, and because the organizers appear to be identical in all respects other than their exterior surfaces, Customs will treat, for purposes of analysis, the organizers as one.

The organizer is called the “World Travel Organizer” (“Organizer”) and measures 6” by 10” by 1” when closed. It is designed to hold travel papers, hotel vouchers and other documents, as well as credit cards and small miscellaneous accessories useful to the traveler.

The exterior front of the “Organizer” has a zippered pocket that runs down the left side. The exterior back of the “Organizer” is effectively a pocket designed for holding a plane ticket. There is a wrist strap sewn into the top of the organizer. The “Organizer” is black in color and it is zippered on three sides

The interior of the “Organizer” has three page-like nylon inserts that are attached to its spine by means of three hinged metal rings. Each page has a full-length top pocket covered by four overlapping sleeve-like pockets. The back side of the pages has a large nylon mesh pocket covering almost the entire area of the page. The interior left side of the “Organizer” features one flat, sleeve-like pocket that opens towards its spine. On top of this pocket are two nylon mesh pockets that are secured by hook and loop fabric closures. The interior right side of the case features a pocket that is open on the top and to the right side. The pocket is approximately eight inches high and four inches wide. Affixed to the exterior of the pocket are five overlapping pockets and one small nylon mesh pocket secured by a hook and loop closure. There is a large elastic loop attached to the interior right side of the case.

Upon opening the “Organizer”, a small white fabric label measuring approximately ¾” by ¾” is observed against the black background, sewn in near the top mid-point of the item, with the marking “World Travel Organizer” and “Sportline.” The marking “Made in China” is observed on the reverse side of the label.

The “Organizer” is sold in a cardboard container with illustrations of the exterior and interior of the item and a detailed description of its features. On the back of the container on the bottom right side is a rectangular box with a white background (in contrast to the beige background of the container) measuring approximately 1 ½” by 3” with the marking “Manufactured by Sportline” followed by a U.S. location, “847 McGlincey Lane, Campbell, CA 95008, USA.” Several spaces below this marking are the words “MADE IN CHINA.” This country of origin marking, although in bold print, is in smaller lettering than the U.S. reference.


1. What is the proper classification of the document organizer?

2. What country of origin marking requirements are applicable to the document organizer?


ISSUE 1. What is the proper classification of the document organizer?

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, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUSA, 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 4202, HTSUSA, provides for:

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 the term “similar containers.” Additionally, the EN to heading 4202, HTSUSA, state that the heading only covers the specifically named containers and similar containers. Applying the principle of statutory construction known as ejusdem generis, which means “of the same kind,” Customs finds that the instant “Organizer” is covered by the term “similar containers” contained in the heading.

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). 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[,]” was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Totes, Inc. v. United States, 69 F.3d 495, 498 (1995). Applying the rationale set forth in Totes, Customs finds that the “Organizer” serves the purposes of organizing, storing, protecting and carrying the various documents that are typically carried during travel. Accordingly, the “Organizer” is classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUSA, as a “similar container.”

With respect to classification at the subheading level, there are several possible subheadings in which to classify the article. One possible subheading is 4202.32, HTSUSA, covering articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag. The EN to subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, state that the subheading covers "articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag and include spectacle cases, note-cases (bill-folds), wallets, purses, key-cases, cigarette-cases, cigar-cases, pipe-cases and tobacco-pouches." Document holders are not provided for in the EN.

On June 21, 1995, this office published a General Notice in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 29, Number 25, concerning goods identified as "Wallets on a String." The attributes of articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag were discussed. The notice stated in pertinent part:

Such articles include wallets, which may be described as flat cases or containers fitted to hold credit/identification cards, paper currency, coins and in some instances a checkbook holder. Articles meeting this description which also possess a detachable carrying strap have been classified as flatgoods.

In order to be classified as a flatgood, the article must fit comfortably in a handbag or pocket. For example, rectangular or square cases measuring approximately 7 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches, or 4 3/4 inches by 4 1/2 inches, in their closed position, have been classified as flatgoods.

While having similar features as the flatgoods described in the notice, the “Organizer” under consideration is too large to qualify as a flatgood, and cannot be comfortably carried in the pocket or in the handbag. Furthermore, the addition of the wrist strap indicates that the “Organizer” is designed to be carried in the hand as opposed to being placed in a handbag. Accordingly, the “Organizer” does not qualify as a flatgood to be carried in the pocket or in the handbag.

Another potential subheading in which to classify the article is subheading 4202.92.4500, HTSUSA, as a travel, sports or similar bag. The “Organizer” has some of the same characteristics as a travel bag, e.g., organizing, storing, protecting, and carrying a person’s documents while traveling. However, application of Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 42, HTSUSA, removes the “Organizer” from the subheading for travel, sports and similar bags. The additional U.S. notes become applicable at the eight-digit level or U.S. subdivision of the international subheadings. The provision for travel, sports and similar bags is defined by Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 42, HTSUSA, as follows:

For 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, but does not include binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, bottle cases and similar containers.

The Additional U.S. Note clarifies what characteristics will be considered to determine if a bag is a travel or similar bag. Significantly it lists travel and similar bags as bags that are designed for carrying clothing and personal effects. In order to hold clothing and personal effects, a bag must have a generic carrying capacity. The exemplars, backpacks and shopping bags, both have a generic carrying capacity suitable for holding clothing and personal effects. The “Organizer” has no generic carrying capacity. Moreover, it is somewhat fitted for flat items such as credit cards and airline tickets. Accordingly, it does not meet the definition of travel and similar bags in Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 42, HTSUSA.

In HQ 954298, dated October 27, 1993, Customs considered three travel pouches. The first pouch was described as a travel pouch and measured 6” by 9”, had one main compartment with two pockets on the front, and attached to a person’s belt. The second pouch also attached to a person’s belt, but it was shaped to hold and carry a hand weapon or pistol. The third pouch was designed to hold and carry an ammunition clip and it too attached to a person’s belt.

The travel pouch was deemed to be classifiable as a travel, sports and similar bag because of its ability to carry various personal items. However, the weapon and clip pouches were excluded from classification as travel, sports and similar bags because they were specially fitted like those bags excluded by U.S. Additional Note 1 to Chapter 42.

HQ 954298 provides guidance as to the proper classification of the “Organizer” that is the subject of this ruling. The pouch that had the generic or general carrying capacity was the only pouch that was classified as a travel, sports and similar bag. The two other pouches, which were specially fitted and had no generic carrying capacity, were excluded from the provision for travel, sports and similar bags. The “Organizer”, due to (1) its lack of general or generic carrying capacity and (2) the fact that it is partially fitted, is more similar to the weapon pouch and clip pouch, than it is to the travel pouch. See also HQ 954288, dated October 27, 1993.

Similarly, the “Organizer” has characteristics and functions that are like the other fitted or compartmentalized cases such as trucker’s wallets, camera tripod cases, palmtop pocket cases, and compact disk (CD) carrying cases.

In 1997, the HTSUSA was modified by adding subheading 4202.92.9050, HTSUS, “Cases designed to protect and transport compact disks (CD’s), CD ROM disks, CD players, cassette players and/or cassettes.” Like the “Organizer”, these cases (1) are not designed to fit in the pocket or handbag, (2) are somewhat fitted to carry, protect, and organize a general class of goods, and (3) have no generic or general carrying capacity. See, HQ 084931, dated August 14, 1989 (trucker’s wallet classified in subheading 4202.99.0000, HTSUSA); HQ 087113, dated July 26, 1990 (carrying case for scope, tripod and photo adapter eyepiece classified in subheading 4202.92.9000, HTSUSA); HQ 962341, dated November 23, 1998 (“Palmtop Pocket Case” classified in subheading 4202.92.9026, HTSUSA). HQ 960527, dated April 11, 2000 (CD-ROM storage folios classified in subheading 4202.92.9026, HTSUSA); HQ 960983, dated September 25, 1998 (diskette storage case classified in subheading 4202.99.9000, HTSUSA); HQ 953175, dated February 17, 1993 (compact disc holder classified in subheading 4202.92.9020, HTSUSA). Lastly, the “Organizer” serves to organize and protect flat items, and has many of the same characteristics as the attache cases and briefcases that are covered in subheadings 4202.11, HTSUSA, through 4202.19, HTSUSA. However, the “Organizer” is not designed to store protect, and carry items such as newspapers, small umbrellas, and/or other objects normally carried in an attache case or briefcase. See, HQ 962757, dated June 21, 2000; and HQ 962030, dated May 13, 1999. Accordingly, the “Organizer,” is classified under one of the residual provisions of heading 4202. For a similar ruling, see HQs 963320, 964788, 964789, and 964790, dated April 6, 2001.

ISSUE 2. What are the country of origin marking requirements of the document organizer?

Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. §1304), provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. §1304 was "that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were purchased, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will." United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 297 at 302; C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and the exceptions of 19 U.S.C. §1304. Section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR §134.46), as amended by T.D. 97-72 (published in the Federal Register on August 20, 1997 (62 FR 44211)), provides:

In any case in which the words “United States,” or “American,” the letters “U.S.A.,” any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or location in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced appear on an imported article or its container, and those words, letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin of the article, there shall appear legibly and permanently in close proximity to such words, letters or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by “Made in,” “Product of,” or other words of similar meaning.

The language of § 134.46 provides that its special marking requirements are triggered only when Customs determines that the non-origin marking may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin of the article. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

We believe that the marking on the box in which the “Organizer” is sold bears potentially misleading or deceptive information by its reference to Sportline as the manufacturer followed by a U.S. address. Customs has consistently held that non-origin geographical references made in the context of a statement relating to any aspect of the production or distribution of the product are misleading to the ultimate purchaser. See T.D. 97-72, supra. Therefore, we find that the special marking requirements of 19 CFR §134.46 are triggered in this case.

Customs has specifically ruled that in order to satisfy the close proximity requirement, the country of origin marking must generally appear on the same side(s) or surface(s) in which the name of the geographical reference other than the country of origin appears. In this case, the marking “Made in China” located on the legend on the lower right side of the box satisfies this proximity requirement. However, the requirements of 19 CFR § 134.46 are not met as this marking is in smaller lettering than the U.S. reference. Accordingly, provided the “Made in China” marking is of least a comparable size as the U.S. reference, the requirements of 19 U.S.C. § 1304 and 19 CFR § 134.46 will be satisfied.


Style number 91000 is classified under subheading 4202.91.0090, HTSUSA, as “Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, . . .: Other: With outer surface of leather, of composition leather or patent leather, Other.” The general column one duty rate is 4.5 percent ad valorem.

Style number 90000 is classified under subheading 4202.92.9026, HTSUSA, as “Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, . . .: Other: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: Other: Other, Other: With outer surface of textile materials: Other: Of man-made fibers.” The general column one duty rate is 18.3 percent ad valorem. 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 negotiations and changes, we suggest that the importer check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the 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, the importer should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements. Sincerely,
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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