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HQ 963340

February 5, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963340 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4202.92.3020

Joel K. Simon, Esquire
Serko & Simon LLP
666 5th Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, New York 10103

RE: Classification of Small Backpacks

Dear Mr. Simon:

This letter is in response to your request of April 8, 1999, on behalf of your client, A.D. Sutton & Sons, concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of four styles of carrying bags manufactured in China. Samples were submitted with your request. We regret the delay in responding.


The four samples are identified by style numbers 6955, 6960, 6965, and 6975, and are described as mini-backpack type bags that are composed with an outer surface of woven polyester fabric. All of the bags have permanently attached, adjustable textile shoulder straps (measuring approximately 1 to 1-1/4 inch in width), at least one carrying strap of looped textile material (measuring approximately 6 inches in length by 1 inch in width), one central compartment, and from one to three additional exterior zippered compartments, each with a tied loop of textile material attached to the zipper pull. None of the bags' compartments is lined.

Style 6955 measures approximately 10 inches in height by 7-5/8 inches in width by 3 inches in depth. The central compartment has a double zippered closure which opens across the top and halfway down each side. The bag's front features a zippered
pocket which measures approximately 4 inches in height by 6 inches in width by 2 inches in depth. Style 6960 has essentially the same dimensions and features as style 6955.

Style 6965 measures approximately 10 inches in height by 8 inches in width by 4 inches in depth. The central compartment has a drawstring zippered closure at its top, with a plastic barrel lock. A textile flap (containing a zippered flat pocket) extends over the top of the bag and is secured with a plastic squeeze and snap closure. The bag's front features a zippered pocket which measures approximately 5 inches in height by 6 inches in width by 1 inch in depth. On the exterior of that pocket is a flat, open top pocket (measuring approximately 5 inches in height by 6 inches in width). The flat pocket is covered by a flap which secures with a plastic squeeze and snap closure, one part of which has a built-in reflector. Each of the two sides of the bag features a zippered pocket which measures approximately 4-1/2 inches in height by 4 inches in width by 1 inch in depth. The exterior of each of these two pockets is divided into four tubular, open top compartments for carrying pens or pencils.

Style 6975 measures approximately 10 inches in height by 7-5/8 inches in width by 3-1/2 inches in depth. The central compartment has a double zippered closure which opens across the top and halfway down each side. The bag's front features two zippered pockets, one higher than the other. The upper pocket measures approximately 3 inches in height by 5 inches in width by 1 inch in depth, and the lower pocket measures approximately 6 inches in height by 6-3/4 inches in width by 1-1/2 inch in depth. A small textile loop (which holds a key ring) is sewn to the bag's exterior next to the upper pocket.


Whether the travel bags are classified as backpacks or as handbags.


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.

Among other goods, heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for traveling bags, insulated food or beverage bags, toiletry bags, knapsacks and backpacks, handbags, and similar containers. Subheading 4202.92, HTSUS, provides in part for travel, sports and similar bags. Additional U.S. Note 1 to chapter 42, HTSUSA, states:

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....

Subheadings 4202.21 through 4202.29, HTSUSA, provide for handbags. The word “handbag” is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1972, as: “1. a small container for money, toilet articles, keys, etc., carried by women; purse 2. a small suitcase or valise.”

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 950708, dated December 24, 1991, we observed judicial guidance as to the attributes of both handbags and bags classifiable under subheading 4202.92. It was noted that certain tote bags which had no linings or reinforcements, no pockets, no closures (or only single snap closures), provided little protection for their contents and were unlikely to be used in a manner similar to a woman’s handbag. We noted that such bags were used as multipurpose bags to carry any number of sundry articles, such as food, books, and/or clothing. Since the bags did not fit the terms of subheadings 4202.11 through 4202.39, but were a type of bag used to carry clothing and other personal effects during travel, they were considered to be travel, sports and similar bags within the meaning of Additional U.S. Note 1 to chapter 42, HTSUSA. See also HQ 951113, issued May 19, 1992, affirming HQ 950708.

In HQ 955552, dated August 15, 1994, this office classified an article described as both a “tote” and a “shoulder bag” in subheading 4202.22.6000, HTSUSA, as a handbag. The bag measured approximately 14 inches in width by 9-1/2 inches in height by 4 inches in depth (at the bottom), had two shoulder straps, and was divided into two separate compartments, each of which had a zippered closure, and one of which had a zippered change purse. The interior was lined and the bottom and corners were reinforced. We found that the bag’s design and construction strongly suggested an intended use by women and girls to carry personal items on a daily basis.

In HQ 957917, dated July 7, 1995, Customs reconsidered and reclassified in subheading 4202.92.1500, HTSUS, a woven cotton bag which measured approximately 14 inches by 10 inches by 5 inches. The bag had a reinforced open top with double carrying straps, but no lining and no pockets or compartments. This office stated that
tote bags similar to those described immediately above were no longer classifiable as handbags, and that such bags were to be regarded as multipurpose bags for carrying various personal effects.

In HQ 959062, dated January 28, 1997, we reconsidered and reclassified an article described as a “mini-backpack” in subheading 4202.22.4030, HTSUSA, as a handbag. The bag measured approximately 6 inches in length by 7-1/2 inches in width by 5 inches in diameter, and was composed of a pile velveteen fabric. The bag had a drawstring closure at the top with a velveteen flap and a satin bow. The bag also had double shoulder straps of braided nylon cording which could be run through a snap closure at the base of the bag to create a “mini-backpack” effect. We noted that Customs prior rulings and lexicographic sources had commonly defined “backpack” as “an article designed to carry food and equipment” and that, in light of the bag’s small size, velveteen fabric, flimsy braided straps, the legal note, and meanings of the terms “handbag” and “backpack,” the “mini-backpack” was designed for use as an evening handbag for females to carry small personal effects.

In HQ 961513, dated September 24, 1998, this office found that two of the three styles of bags at issue were designed, constructed, and intended to be used as women’s handbags, not as backpacks. The dimensions, linings, shoulder straps, and overall appearance indicated that their purpose was to contain certain items normally carried in a handbag. The shoulder straps were small in width and either partially or completely detachable. On the other hand, the wider, permanently attached shoulder straps of the third bag, as well as its dimensions, construction, and overall appearance, suggested the characteristics of a backpack, including the capacity to carry a wide variety of personal effects not normally carried in a handbag. We found that the first two bags were classified as handbags, and that the third bag was classified as a backpack.

In HQ 964488, dated July 16, 2001, we reconsidered and reclassified a child's “baby doll carrier” in 4202.92.1500, HTSUSA. The ruling revoked New York Ruling Letter (NY) F87328, dated June 12, 2000, in which the carrier had been classified as a handbag in 4202.22.4500, HTSUSA. The article measured approximately 12 inches in height by 9-1/2 inches in width by 3 inches in depth, and was described as a bag fitted on its exterior with an "infant carrier" (which resembled a cloth "seat" in which a child would place a small doll). It had adjustable shoulder straps and was designed for a child to wear on the back to carry various personal effects (on the inside) and a doll (on the outside). The article was found to have the dimensions and carrying capacity of a child's backpack and was classified as such.

In this case, we likewise find that each of the four articles is a backpack. The permanently attached shoulder straps are fairly wide and sturdy, and the overall construction and appearance of each bag bears the characteristics of a backpack. Although no bag is large in size, each would comfortably fit a child and conveniently carry articles of clothing and personal effects. Each of the articles is classified in subheading 4202.92.3020, HTSUSA, textile category 670, which provides for, among other containers, backpacks.


The bags described as mini-backpacks and identified by style nos. 6955, 6960, 6965, and 6975, are classified in subheading 4202.92.3020, HTSUSA, textile category 670, the provision for “Trunks...backpacks...and 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: Backpacks.” The general column one duty rate is 18.1 percent ad valorem. There are no applicable quota/visa requirements for the products of World Trade Organization ("WTO") members. The textile category number above applies to merchandise produced in non-WTO countries.

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 updated weekly and is available for inspection at your local Customs office. The Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels) is also available on the Customs Electronic Bulletin Board (CEBB) which can be found on the U.S. Customs Service Website at www.customs.gov.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the 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
Commercial Rulings Division

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