United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2002 HQ Rulings > HQ 963250 - HQ 963596 > HQ 963408

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 963408

April 17, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963408 ttd


TARIFF NO: 4202.92.3031

Mr. Robert Schlipper
GPO Box 11464
Hong Kong

RE: Reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter E81890, dated May 28, 1999; Security Bag

Dear Mr. Schlipper:

This is in response to your letter, dated July 23, 1999 requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) E81890, dated May 28, 1999, regarding the classification of a security bag under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Your letter, which was originally submitted to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division in New York, was referred to this office for reply. After review of NY E81890, Customs has determined that the classification of the security bag in subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA, was correct. For the reasons that follow, this ruling affirms NY E81890.


In NY E81890, the security bag under consideration was classified in subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA, which provides for travel, sports and similar bags: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: Other; Of man-made fibers; Other. In NY E81890, the article at issue was described as follows:

The sample submitted is described as a security bag. It is manufactured of a stainless steel wire mesh which is wholly covered on both sides with a man-made textile material. The bag has a drawstring type closure of wire which has a molded plastic locking device and a side carrying handle of woven textile materials. The overall size of the bag is 13 inches by 8 inches. The bag appears to be designed so that valuables can be secured while traveling.

In your submission of July 23, 1999, you stated that classification of the subject item under subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA, was incorrect. You contend that "the appearance is supposed to be fashionably industrial looking, and that the design is more specific than a 'security bag.'" You also state that two thirds of the weight of handbag is the stainless steel mesh material. In your letter dated May 4, 1999, you described the item as "a new hand bag concept that has a built in security feature." You suggested classification of the item as a handbag in subheading 4202.22.4030 or subheading 4202.22.8050, HTSUSA, or, as an article of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in a handbag in subheading 4202.32.9550, HTSUSA.


What is the proper classification of the subject merchandise?


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides, in part, that classification decisions are to be “determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.” In the event that 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 (EN) constitute 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. While neither legally binding nor dispositive of classification issues, the EN provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUSA and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989).

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 959062, dated January 28, 1997, Customs examined the characteristics that make a bag of a kind like a purse, pocketbook, shoulder bag or clutch bag of subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, rather than travel bags that are considered articles other than handbags, some of which are classified in provisions under subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA. In that ruling, Customs noted that the term "handbag" is not specifically defined in the nomenclature, but that we have recognized several lexicographic sources providing the following definitions:

Essential Terms of Fashion: A Collection of Definitions: Accessory carried primarily by women and girls to hold such items as money, credit cards, and cosmetics. The Fashion Dictionary: Soft or rigid bag carried in hand or on arm. Size, shape, handle, etc., depend on fashion. Used by women as container for money and pocket-sized accessories.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: 1. Traveling bag; 2. A woman's bag held in the hand or hung from a shoulder strap and used for carrying small personal articles and money.

Webster's New World Dictionary: A bag, usually of leather or cloth, held in the hand or hung by a strap from the arm or shoulder and used, by women, to carry money, keys, and personal effects.

Based on the definitions above, the term "handbag," describes a bag used by women that is designed to carry money, credit cards, keys, and small or pocket-sized personal effects (e.g., a hairbrush, cosmetics, etc.). See HQ 960470, dated April 14, 1998, wherein Customs classified cosmetic purses in subheading 4202.91.0030, HTSUSA, the provision for travel, sports and similar bags with outer surface of leather. In HQ 957246, dated March 29, 1995, we found that the determinative feature of a handbag is its ability to hold several objects not associated with a wallet including items such as credit cards, identification cards, paper currency and coins. See also HQ 956657, dated April 11, 1995.

The subject bag is visibly distinguishable from a handbag or purse covered by subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA. In your letter of May 4, 1999, you described the security features of the bag as follows:

The opening is secured by firmly pulling the draw wire until the plastic bead attached along the draw wire passes through the locking device aperture. A padlock is then passed through the locking device aperture; this prevents the plastic bead from passing back through the locking device effectively securing the opening .

According to your description, the security features of the subject bag are not ordinarily present in articles that are considered handbags or purses. The stainless steel wire mesh construction, coupled with the locking device and use of a padlock, distinguish the subject bag from the features commonly observed in handbags and purses. Moreover, as described above, a handbag is intended for use by women. The subject bag, in contrast, is not limited to use solely by women. Rather, it is a unisex bag: one that males or females could equally use to secure belongings. Thus, based on the construction and unisex appearance of the subject bag, it is not of a class or kind designed to contain the personal effects carried in a handbag, such as money, keys, cosmetics, and small accessories. Accordingly, the subject bag is not the kind of bag used as a handbag or purse and is therefore not properly classified in subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA.

Subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, provides for other articles not more specifically provided for in the preceding subheadings of 4202, HTSUSA, and with an outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials. Included within subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, are travel, sports and similar bags. Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 42, provides:

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 articles.

Customs has consistently determined that the goods of subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, include bags that are designed to carry clothing or other personal effects during travel. In HQ 957917, dated July 7, 1995, Customs classified a tote bag in subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, noting that it was unlikely that a tote bag is used in a manner similar to a woman's handbag. Rather, we considered the tote bag as a multipurpose bag to carry any number of sundry articles during travel, which did not fit the terms of subheadings 4202.11 through 4202.39, and we therefore classified the bag in subheading 4202.92.1500, HTSUSA.

Based on the examination of the merchandise at issue in NY E81890, we find that the subject bag is designed to secure valuables while traveling and is not of a class or kind designed to contain money, keys, cosmetics, and small accessories normally carried in a handbag. The security features of the subject bag, which include the stainless steel wire mesh, draw wire, locking device, and use of a padlock, are not characteristic of a handbag or purse. Instead, they more accurately represent characteristics of articles associated with traveling by providing added security, storage and protection for valuables, such as jewelry, passports, money, etc. Thus, the subject bag, like the tote bag in HQ 957917, is properly classified in subheading 4202.92, HTSUSA, as a travel bag other than a handbag. This view is also consistent with PD C88223, issued to you on June 15, 1998, which classified a duffle bag with a wire mesh interior wholly covered with nylon in subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA.

Finally, in your letter dated May 4, 1999, you also proposed classification of the subject bag in subheading 4202.32.9550, HTSUSA, as an article of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in a handbag. We disagree with this suggestion. Based on the size and features of the subject bag, it is not intended to be carried in a handbag or a pocket. See HQ 955550, dated June 15, 1994.

As the subject bag is a travel bag, it is properly classified under subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA, which covers, inter alia, travel bags and similar bags with outer surface of textile materials of man-made fibers. HOLDING:

The subject merchandise is classified in subheading 4202.92.3031, HTSUSA, which provides for "Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache case, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; traveling bags, insulated food or beverage 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: 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: Other." The applicable rate of duty is 18.1 percent ad valorem. The textile restraint category is 670. 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, the 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 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.

In accordance with the above, NY E81890 is AFFIRMED.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: