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HQ 963521

July 23, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963521 SK


TARIFF NO.: 4202.22.1500

Mr. Roger J. Crain, President
Customs Science Services, Inc.
11901 Reynolds Avenue
Potomac, MD 20854-3334

RE: Reconsideration of NY E88657 (10/19/99); classification of handbags; external surface covered/coated with embossed plastic; imitation leather.

Dear Mr. Crain:

This is in response to your letter of November 19, 1999, in which you request a reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) E88657, dated October 19, 1999, regarding the classification of two styles of handbags under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). NY E88657 was issued to your client, Kohl’s Department Stores. Your initial request for reconsideration was supplemented by an additional letter, dated May 1, 2000.

After review of NY E88657, Customs has determined that the classification of the subject handbags in subheading 4202.22.1500, HTSUSA, was correct. For the reasons that follow, this ruling affirms NY E88657.


In NY E88657, two styles of handbags were classified in subheading 4202.22.1500, HTSUSA, which provides for, in pertinent part, handbags with an outer surface of sheeting of plastic.

Two samples of the subject merchandise were submitted to Customs for examination. The samples, referenced style numbers LM1150-A/B/C and LH0100-E/F/G, are representative of a range of handbags within the same style number. Each style number grouping is comprised of two top-zippered handbags and one flap closure handbag with a magnetic snap. The handbags feature handles, detachable shoulder straps and each is affixed with a leather hangtag that reads, “Genuine Leather with Manmade Trim.” Each style is manufactured from two types of composite material: (1) split-leather with a coating/covering of polyurethane plastic sheeting that has been embossed to resemble top-grain leather; and (2) fabric-backed polyurethane plastic sheeting that has been embossed to resemble top-grain leather (commercially known as imitation leather). The entire external surface of both styles is covered by the embossed plastic sheeting, including trim components. The samples submitted to this office are black; however, the same styles are also produced in white, navy and bone colors.


What is the proper classification of the subject merchandise?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification 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 goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the heading 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.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for, in pertinent part, “Trunks, suitcases, and similar containers; traveling bags, toiletry bags, knapsacks and backpacks, handbags, and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of sheeting of plastics, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper.”

As handbags are specifically cited exemplars in heading 4202, HTSUSA, there is no dispute that the subject merchandise is classifiable within this provision. The determinative issue is how the subject handbags are classified at the subheading level, which requires that a determination be made as to whether the subject handbags have an “outer surface of sheeting of plastic” or an “outer surface of leather or composition leather.”

In this regard, it is noted that the EN to heading 4202 state, in pertinent part, that:

Subject to Notes 1 and 2 to this Chapter, the articles covered by the first part of the heading (i.e., the part preceding the semicolon in the heading text to 4202, HTSUSA), may be of any material .

The articles covered by the second part of the heading (i.e., the part following the semicolon) must, however, be only of the materials specified therein or must be wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper .

Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 42, HTSUSA, states:

For purposes of classifying articles under subheadings 4202.12, 4202.22, 4202.32 and 4202.92, articles of textile fabric impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics (whether compact or cellular) shall be regarded as having an outer surface of textile material or of plastic sheeting, depending upon whether and the extent to which the textile constituent or the plastic constituent makes up the exterior surface of the article.

In response to your request for reconsideration of NY E88657, and your assertion that the subject merchandise is made from uncoated leather and therefore classifiable as handbags of leather in subheading 4202.21.6000, HTSUSA, samples of the articles at issue were submitted to Customs Laboratories and Scientific Services for analysis. The lab was requested to verify the composition of the material comprising the outer surface of the handbags, and to determine whether the leather was coated or covered with plastics. The lab report, referenced 2-2000-10229 and dated April 14, 2000, stated that the external surface of the handbags is “coated, covered or laminated on one surface with a plastics material.” A visual inspection of the subject handbags by the Customs National Commodity Import Specialist also yielded the conclusion that the outer surface of the handbags was entirely coated or covered with embossed plastic sheeting. These findings are supported by the submitted pre-classification documents which describe the handbags as consisting of “P.U. (polyurethane) coated split leathers.”

As both handbag styles are completely coated or covered with embossed plastic sheeting that is backed with either fabric or split leather, and it is the embossed plastic that comprises the entire exterior surface of the handbags and imparts the visual effect of simulated leather, the handbags are classifiable as having outer surfaces “of plastic” within the meaning of the EN to heading 4202 and the Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 42, set forth supra. Accordingly, classification of the handbags that fall within style group numbers LM1150-A/B/C and LH0100-E/F/G is proper under subheading 4202.22.1500, HTSUSA, which provides for handbags, with an outer surface of plastics.

Additionally, in light of the above determination that the subject handbags are not of genuine leather, your client should be advised that the hangtags affixed to the handbags that bear the inscription, “Genuine Leather with Manmade Trim” may be in violation of § 11.13(a) of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 11.13(a)). Section 11.13(a) provides:

Articles which bear, or the containers which bear, false designations of origin, or false descriptions or representations, including words or other symbols tending falsely to describe or represent the articles, are prohibited importation under 15 U.S.C. 294, 295, 296, 1124, 1125 or 48 U.S.C. 1405q, and shall be detained.


The subject merchandise, referenced style numbers LM1150-A/B/C and LH0100-D/E/F, are classified in subheading 4202.22.1500, HTSUSA, which provides for, in pertinent part, handbags with outer surface of sheeting of plastic. The applicable rate of duty is 16.8 percent ad valorem. There is no applicable quota/visa requirements for these products.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification), the importer should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.

In accordance with the above, NY E88657 is affirmed.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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