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HQ 964409

April 16, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964409 AM


TARIFF NO.: 8206.00.00

Ms. Lolita Combs
Fritz Companies
P.O. Box 92641
Los Angeles, CA 90009-9901

RE: tool kit and portable lamp combination

Dear Ms. Combs:

This is in reference to your letter, dated June 16, 2000, on behalf of World Office Products Mfg., Inc., to the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of a tool kit and portable lamp (hereinafter "kit"). Your letter was referred to this office for reply. We regret the delay.


The submitted sample (model #14250), known as "Utility Flashlight with Tool Kit", is a molded plastic fitted kit housing the following items: 6 inch drop forged adjustable wrench, slip joint pliers, a phillips head screwdriver, a flat head screwdriver, 10 inch claw head hammer, 8 allen wrenches ranging in size from 1/16 inch through 1/4 inch in diameter, a portable battery operated electric lamp with swivel head, amber and red blinking lights, red warning reflectors, and a car plug adapter. The merchandise is made in China packaged for retail sale. Pictures on the packaging highlight both features, the use as a tool kit and as a portable lamp and signaling device.


What is the classification of a tool kit and portable lamp combination in a fitted plastic case. LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Merchandise imported into the U.S. is classified under the HTSUS. Tariff classification is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context that requires otherwise, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUS and are to be considered statutory provisions of law.

GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any related section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order. GRI 6 requires that the classification of goods in the subheadings of headings shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings, any related subheading notes and mutatis mutandis, to the GRIs. In interpreting the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System may be utilized. The ENs, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUSA. See T.D. 89 80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (August 23, 1989).

GRI 3(b) provides for the classification of goods put up in sets for retail sale. The rule states, in pertinent part, as follows:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The ENs to GRI 3(b) state, in pertinent part, the following:

(VIII) The factor which determines the essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

(IX) For the purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

GRI 3(c) states: "When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration."

GRI 5(a) states: "[C]amera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, drawing instrument cases, necklace cases and similar containers, specially shaped or fitted to contain a specific article or set of articles, suitable for long-term use and presented with the articles for which they are intended, shall be classified with such articles when of a kind normally sold therewith. This rule does not, however, apply to containers which give the whole its essential character."

The following HTSUS headings are under consideration:

8206: Tools of two or more of heading 8202 to 8205, put up in sets for retail sale

8513 Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy (for example, dry batteries, storage batteries, magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof:

Classification can not be accomplished at GRI 1 because the molded plastic tool kit and portable lamp are each prima facie classifiable in two different headings. They are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole. The case housing the tools and portable lamp is specially fitted for the articles, suitable for long-term use and presented with the articles for which they are intended. Therefore, the tool kit and portable lamp are a composite good classifiable using GRI 3.

First, GRI 3(b) directs us to consider which articles in the composite good merit consideration in determining the article that imparts the essential character to the good. The kit is marketed as a tool kit and portable lamp combination. It is purchased for the use of the tools and the portable lamp. The car plug adapter assists the user in utilizing the light but does not merit equal consideration in tariff classification. The case is classified with the composite good under GRI 5(a). The amber and red blinking lights and red warning reflector are secondary features that may add to the salability of the article but do not merit consideration as imparting its essential character. (See HQ 084852, dated March 28, 1990, and HQ 951855, dated July 24, 1992). Therefore, only the tool kit and portable lamp merit equal consideration in the essential character analysis.

Applying GRI 3(b), the tool kit portion of the merchandise comprises more weight than the portable lamp. The tools are made of metal and feel substantial in the hand, hence, we assume that together as a kit, they comprise more of the value of the merchandise. The tool kit also comprises more of the bulk of the merchandise. Lastly, in HQ 964187, dated November 21, 2000, we found that the inclusion of a flashlight in a drill/circular saw combination kit did not defeat the classification of the entire kit as a set under GRI 3(b), because "all of the articles work together to carry out the activity of constructing with wood." Although only one of the components of the instant kit may be used at any given time (the portable lamp, for example, could be useful in changing a tire at night although the tool kit does not contain the lug wrench or jack needed to complete the task), the merchandise contemplates the need for the portable lamp in the use of the tools. The portable lamp assists in the use of the tools. Therefore, the tool kit imparts the essential character to the merchandise in relation to use of the merchandise as a whole because the portable lamp is an adjunct to the use of the tools.

Although other combination goods have been classified through the use of GRI 3(c), the facts are sufficiently dissimilar in those rulings from those presented here to warrant the above essential character analysis. (See HQ 087161, dated August 2, 1990, HQ 952494, dated October 8, 1992 and HQ 952669, dated November 30, 1992, using GRI 3(c) to classify a combination baseball cap/radio and radio-flashlight, respectively, under the HTSUS.) Neither a combination baseball cap and radio nor a radio/flashlight consist of two components where, as here, one component assists in the use of the other. Therefore, by application of GRI 3(b), the instant kit is classified in subheading 8206.00.00, HTSUS, the provision for "[T]ools of two or more of heading 8202 to 8205, put up in sets for retail sale."


The kit is classified in subheading 8206.00.00, HTSUS, the provision for "[T]ools of two or more of heading 8202 to 8205, put up in sets for retail sale," with the duty rate applicable to that article in the set subject to the highest rate of duty, the slip joint pliers (subheading 8203.20.40, HTSUS), at 12%.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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