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HQ 964789

April 6, 2001

CLA-2:RR:CR:TE 964789 JFS


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.9060

Ms. Maria Gallego-Taveras
Patrick Powers Custom Brokers, Inc.
27 Blake Ave.
Lynbrook, NY 11563

RE: Revocation of PD A88536; Classification of Travel Document Holder.

Dear Ms. Gallego-Taveras:

This letter is to inform you that Customs has reconsidered Port Decision (PD) A88536, dated October 24, 1996, issued to you on behalf of Customcraft, Inc., concerning the classification of a document holder under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). After review of the ruling, it has been determined that the classification of the document holder in subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, was incorrect. For the reasons that follow, this ruling revokes PD A88536.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1) Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)) as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-82, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186), notice of the proposed revocation of PD A88536 was published on February 28, 2001, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 35, Number 9. As explained in the notice, the period within which to submit comments on this proposal was until March 30, 2001. No comments were received in response to this notice.


The article under consideration is style #4451. The article is a ticket/passport case for use during travel. It is approximately 9 ½ inches by 4 ½ inches closed, and has an outer surface of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheeting with a textile backing. ISSUE:

Whether the travel document holder should be classified under subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, which provides for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag?


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 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 4202, HTSUSA, 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, 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. 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 travel document holder 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 instant travel document holder serves the purposes of organizing, storing, protecting and carrying the various documents that are typically carried during travel. Accordingly, the document holder is classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUSA, as a “similar container.”

With respect to classification at the subheading level, the article was originally classified under subheading 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, keycases, 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 document holder under consideration is too large to qualify as a flatgood and cannot comfortably be carried in the pocket or in the handbag. Accordingly the document holder does not qualify as a flat good carried in the pocket or in the handbag.

Another potential subheading in which to classify the document holder is subheading 4202.92.4500, HTSUSA, which provides for “travel, sports and similar” bags. The instant document holder 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 document holder from the subheading for travel and similar bags. The Additional U.S. Notes become applicable at the eight-digit level or U.S. subdivision of the international subheadings. Travel, sports and similar bags are defined as:

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.

Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 42, HTSUSA.

The exemplars, backpacks and shopping bags, in the Additional U.S. Note, both have a general or generic carrying capacity suitable for holding clothing and personal effects. Because the document holder does not have a generic carrying capacity, it does not meet the definition of travel, sports and similar bags as provided in Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 42, HTSUSA.

The lack of ability to carry three dimensional items also prevents the document holder from being classified as a briefcase or attache case covered in subheadings 4202.11, HTSUSA, through 4202.19, HTSUSA. Although the document holder organizes and protects flat items, and has many of the same characteristics as attache cases and briefcases, it is not designed to 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.

The document holder has characteristics and functions that are similar to other fitted or compartmentalized cases that have been classified in the “other” provision of subheading 4202, HTSUSA. These cases include 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, HTSUSA, “Cases designed to protect and transport compact disks (CD’s), CD ROM disks, CD players, cassette players ad/or cassettes.” Like the instant document holder, 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, as “Other”); HQ 087113, dated July 26, 1990 (carrying case for scope, tripod and photo adapter eyepiece classified in subheading 4202.92.9000, HTSUSA, as “Other”); HQ 962341, dated November 23, 1998 (“Palmtop Pocket Case” classified in subheading 4202.92.9026, HTSUSA, as “Other”). HQ 960527, dated April 11, 2000 (CD-ROM storage folios classified in subheading 4202.92.9026, HTSUSA, as “Other”); HQ 960983, dated September 25, 1998 (diskette storage case classified in subheading 4202.99.9000, HTSUSA, as “Other”); HQ 953175, dated February 17, 1993 (compact disc holder classified in subheading 4202.92.9020, HTSUSA, as “Other”).

For a similar ruling, see HQs 963320, 964788, and 964790 of this date.


Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, Customs finds that the document holder is classified under subheading 4202.92.9060, HTSUSA, as “Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, . . .: Other: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: Other: Other: Other: Other.” The duty, at the general one column rate, is 18.3 percent ad valorem.

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.


PD A88536, dated October 24, 1996, is hereby REVOKED. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. §1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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