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HQ 963397

July 26, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963397 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4820.10.4000

Erik D. Smithweiss, Esquire
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman LLP 245 Park Avenue, 33rd Floor
New York, New York 10167-3397

RE: Revocation of NY E82903; "Checkbook Organizer;" GRI 3(b) Set including Checkbook Register, Telephone/Address Book, Notebook, Card/Photo Holders, Pen, and Trifold Cover for Checkbook; Not Wallet of Heading 4202

Dear Mr. Smithweiss:

This is in response to your request dated July 29, 1999, on behalf of your client, Archer Worldwide, Inc., for reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) E82903, issued June 16, 1999, concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of a multi-component article manufactured in China. A sample has been submitted for our examination. We have reviewed NY E82903 and have found the ruling to be in error. Therefore, this ruling revokes NY E82903. We regret the delay in responding.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), notice of the proposed revocation of NY E82903 was published on June 26, 2002, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 36, Number 26.


In NY E82903, the multi-component article identified as a "Checkbook Organizer" was classified as a set in subheading 4202.32.2000, HTSUSA, which provides, in part, for "...wallets...: Articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic: Other." The sample article's outermost component, whether deemed to be a wallet or a cover for a checkbook, is of a trifold design with a
hook and loop front closure. The component is made with an outer material of unbacked polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic sheeting, and inner layers consisting of a paperboard stiffener and padding of foam plastic. In the closed position, the checkbook organizer measures approximately 6-1/4 inches in width by 4 inches in height by 1/2 of an inch in depth. When opened, the article's width remains the same, but it measures approximately 9-1/2 inches in height. The interior of the article is fitted with two flat, translucent plastic sleeves, each of which extends full-width and measures approximately 3-1/4 inches in height.

The lower of the two sleeves is designed for the insertion of a staple-bound, 16 page checkbook register with 3 year calendar (included), or a checkbook (which is not included). The checkbook register measures approximately 6 inches in width by 3 inches in height. Loosely overlying both the lower sleeve and the checkbook register, and permanently attached by their top edges to the lower of the article's two spines, are two cardholder sleeves. Each cardholder sleeve contains a paper insert, one of which reads "Medical Card" and the other of which reads "Identification." The reverse sides of the inserts contain lines that are labeled for the entry of personal information.

The upper of the two flat, plastic sleeves lies on the interior, middle portion of the trifold component and contains a paper insert which reads "Receipts & Coupon Pocket." Overlying this paper insert, and slipped side by side into the flat plastic sleeve, are the back covers of two staple-bound, 16 page inserts, each of which measures approximately 3 inches square. One of the inserts is a telephone/address book and the other is a pad or notebook of blank paper. Above the upper sleeve, in the crease of the upper spine, is a tubular shaped pen holder of plastic sheeting, into which is inserted a retractable ball point pen. The uppermost or "fold-over" portion of the trifold article (above the pen and pen holder) extends full-width (6-1/4 inches), measures approximately 1-1/4 inch in height, and features only the "loop" segment of the article's hook and loop closure which, in the closed position, contacts the "hook" segment on the outer surface of the bottom portion.

It was determined in NY E82903 that, if imported separately, the components of the "Checkbook Organizer" would be individually classified in various subheadings, i.e., the address book in subheading 4820.10.2010, HTSUSA, the blank notebook in subheading 4820.10.2020, HTSUSA, the register in subheading 4820.10.4000, HTSUSA, the pen in subheading 9608.10.0000, and the wallet in subheading 4202.32.2000, HTSUSA. The components were imported together, however, packed for retail sale. The complete article was found to comprise a "set" pursuant to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b), with the PVC "wallet" imparting the set's essential character.


Whether the "Checkbook Organizer" is properly classified in subheading 4202.32.2000, HTSUSA, which covers, in part, "...wallets...and similar containers....;" in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA, a basket provision which covers other articles of plastics; or under one of the provisions of heading 4820, HTSUSA, which covers, in part, "Registers...notebooks...diaries and similar articles...book covers (including cover boards and book jackets) of paper or paperboard."


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the 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 merchandise, chapter 48, HTSUSA, covers articles of paper or of paperboard. Note 1(h) to chapter 48, HTSUSA, states that “[t]his chapter does not cover: Articles of heading 4202 (for example, travel goods).” As noted above, some of the items covered by heading 4820 are registers, notebooks, diaries and similar articles, book covers and other articles of stationery, of paper or paperboard. The EN to heading 4820 indicate that the heading covers various articles of stationery including (in addition to the examples named in the text of the heading) notebooks of all kinds, address books, and books, pads, etc., for entering telephone numbers. It is clear that several of the checkbook organizer's components are articles of stationery that are classifiable under heading 4820, HTSUSA. To examine the characteristics of the component in which all of the other components are fitted, we next look to heading 4202, HTSUSA.

Among other goods, heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for trunks, briefcases, wallets, and similar containers. The exemplars named in heading 4202 have in common the purpose of organizing, storing, protecting, and carrying various items. EN (c) to heading 4202 states, in part, that the heading does not cover:

Articles which, although they may have the character of containers, are not similar to those enumerated in the heading, for example, book covers and reading jackets, file-covers, document-jackets...etc., and which are wholly or
mainly covered with leather, sheeting of plastics, etc. Such articles fall in heading 4205 if made of (or covered with) leather or composition leather, and in other Chapters if made of (or covered with) other materials. [Emphasis in original.]

For purposes of the outermost component at issue, such "other Chapters" include Chapter 39, HTSUSA, which provides for “Plastics and Articles Thereof.” Heading 3926, HTSUSA, covers “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914.” Although the language of the heading does not enumerate specific exemplars, the EN to heading 3926 state, in pertinent part, that the heading covers articles of plastics which include:

...file-covers, document-jackets, book covers and reading jackets, and similar protective goods made by sewing or glueing together sheets of plastics.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 960835, dated June 29, 1999, this office classified a bifold cover (for a checkbook) with an exterior layer of cellular plastics not backed with textile fabric in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA. Like the "wallet" at issue herein, the interior sides of the bifold cover each had plastic slots or sleeves into which a checkbook or other types of books or pads could be inserted. To determine whether that article was similar to the containers enumerated in heading 4202, we first acknowledged that checkbook covers bear some resemblance to wallets of heading 4202, HTSUSA. Six digit subheadings 4202.32, 4202.31, and 4202.39, HTSUSA, cover articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or handbag. The pertinent subheading EN states that:

These subheadings cover 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.

In HQ 960835, it was noted that on June 21, 1995, this office had 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 that:

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 recounting that checkbook covers were not normally fitted to hold paper currency or coins, and that wallets could be fitted to hold checkbook holders, we found indications that wallets and checkbook covers are separate and distinct commodities. We further determined that, unlike wallets, checkbook covers are specifically designed to accommodate articles of stationery, e.g., a book of checks and a register for recording details concerning each check written. We found that the bifold checkbook cover was not similar to a wallet or other containers enumerated in heading 4202, and was not classifiable in that heading.

In this case, the outermost component is essentially a protective cover for the articles of stationery it incorporates (a check register, a telephone address book, and a notebook) and a pen which renders the articles of stationery more useful. Although this component is also capable of holding a book of checks, the usefulness of such books depends upon their printed customized information (e.g., name, address, and other information pertinent to both the account owner and the financial institution) and checkbooks are not normally included in imported sets of this type. Although the outer component at issue is fitted with two small sleeves for cards or photos (features normally associated with a wallet), the two larger sleeves are not suitable fittings for carrying coins and are not designed or intended to withstand the repetitive manipulation associated with carrying currency. We thus find that the article is similar to a cover for a checkbook and, although it is not composed of paper or paperboard, to other articles of stationery. The component is not similar to a wallet or other containers of heading 4202, HTSUSA. If separately imported, the cover would be classified in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA.

The legal notes to chapter 48, HTSUSA, do not exclude covers found to be classifiable under heading 3926, HTSUSA. While we agree with the determination in NY E82903 that the group of components comprises a set, we note that three of the five separable components are classifiable under heading 4820, while the other two components (i.e., the pen and the cover) are designed to write on, and to cover/protect, the articles of stationery, respectively. In light of the roles played by the stationery, it is clear that the essential character of the set will be imparted by a component that is classifiable under heading 4820, HTSUSA. Classification of the complete good cannot be determined by GRI 1, however, i.e., according to the terms of heading 4820, because the components are classifiable in different subheadings of that heading.

GRI 6 addresses the classification of goods that are classifiable in different subheadings within the same heading. In pertinent part, GRI 6 states:

For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above rules [i.e., GRI 1 through GRI 5], on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable....

At the six digit subheading level, each of the three stationery components is classifiable in subheading 4820.10, HTSUSA, which provides, in pertinent part, for: "...Registers, account books, notebooks, order books, receipt books, letter pads, memorandum pads, diaries and similar articles." (Emphasis added.)

We continue classification analysis of the three components using the remaining applicable GRI. In pertinent part, GRI 2(b) states:

The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3.

GRI 3(a) directs that the headings [and by operation of GRI 6 above, the subheadings] are regarded as equally specific when they each refer to part only of...the items in a set put up for retail sale. GRI 3(a) requires that the subheadings be regarded as equally specific despite any disparity in their texts.

At the eight digit subheading level, the three components are classifiable in two different subheadings, i.e., 4820.10.20, HTSUSA, which provides for "...Diaries, notebooks and address books, bound; memorandum pads, letter pads and similar articles," and 4820.10.40, HTSUSA, the text of which reads "Other." Since the exemplars of six digit subheading 4820.10, HTSUSA, are completely provided for in only two, eight digit subheadings, subheading 4820.10.40, HTSUSA, actually provides for all of the named exemplars of subheading 4820.10, that are not named in subheading 4820.10.20, HTSUSA. By process of elimination, the "Other" articles provided for in subheading 4820.10.40, HTSUSA, are "Registers, account books, order books, receipt books and similar articles." (Emphasis added.)

We next look to GRI 3(b), which states, in part, that:

...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.

At GRI 3(b), the checkbook organizer set is classified as if it consists of the component or components that give the set its essential character. The terms of the competing subheadings might suggest that the provision which includes two of the three components more specifically describes the set, but neither the notebook nor the address book are more specific than the register, and neither of the two components appears to give the complete set its essential character. We therefore look next to Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b), which states:

The factor which determines 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.

In viewing the nature of the checkbook organizer and the role of the remaining stationery components to the use of the set, we are mindful that although the notebook and the address book are classifiable in the same eight digit subheading, each is only one half the size of the checkbook register. We note that the cover of the "checkbook organizer" conforms in size to the checkbook register, and that it is able and likely intended to incorporate a personalized checkbook, the individual checks of which a checkbook register is designed and intended to record and describe. We thus find that the checkbook register imparts the set's essential character, and that the checkbook organizer is classified in subheading 4820.10.4000, HTSUSA. For additional Customs rulings classifying sets of similar components, see NY C87832 (dated May 19, 1998), NY C81905 (dated November 25, 1997), and NY 812474 (dated July 18, 1995).


NY E82903, dated June 16, 1999, is hereby revoked.

The trifold article identified as the "Checkbook Organizer" is classified in subheading 4820.10.4000, HTSUSA, which provides, in part, for "...Registers, account books...order books, receipt books...and similar articles: Other." The general column one duty rate is free.

In accordance with 19 U.S.C. § 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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