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HQ 965088

August 5, 2002

CLA-2: RR:CR:TE 965088 ASM


TARIFF NO.: 4820.10.2010

Mr. Thomas M. Stanton
Authentic Models
P.O. Box 55038
Portland, OR 97238-5038

RE: Request for Binding Ruling; Leather Folder Containing Paper Journal Covered with Leather, Imported in a Printed Drawstring Bag

Dear Mr. Stanton:

This is in response to your request, dated May 23, 2001, on behalf of your client, Authentic Models, concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated of a leather folder containing a paper journal covered with leather imported in a textile drawstring bag. The items are made in India. A sample has been provided with the request.


The article is identified by you as a "Journal Wallet" (style LC008) and it measures approximately 6 1/2 inches x 8 inches x 1 1/2 inches. This item is a tri-fold leather case, having an interior that incorporates various storage pockets and slots. The interior also features a sleeve that holds a journal, i.e., a leather covered book consisting of blank paper pages that have been bound by glue and a leather strip. The leather covered journal is designed to be fully removable from the leather folder by pulling it out of the sleeve. The entire article (i.e., leather folder with bound journal inside) is packed within a drawstring pouch made of textile fabric with colors coordinated to those of the folder. The leather folder features a wrap style closure consisting of a leather disk (approximately 1 inch circumference) attached to the front of the folder that has been secured by a long (1/8 inch wide x 3 feet 2 inches in length) leather strap which can encircle the entire closed folder twice over and wrap tightly around the disk to form a tight closure.


What is the proper classification for the merchandise?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (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 heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“ENs”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs 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).

The leather folder is designed to store and protect the journal and other writing-related items. Imported separately, it may be classifiable as an article of either heading 4205, HTSUSA, which covers “Other articles of leather or of composition leather" or heading 4202, HTSUSA, which covers, among other items, wallets, attaché cases and similar containers.

The textile drawstring bag is extremely durable and reusable, attractive in design with leather thongs on the drawstring ends, and printed with a story line on the exterior of the bag, such that it becomes an integral part of the marketing and consumer appeal of the product. The textile drawstring bag would be classifiable as an other made up article under heading 6307, HTSUSA, if imported separately.

We next consider the classification of the bound journal, mindful that it is imported with a leather folder that is designed to cover and protect it. Chapter 48, HTSUSA, covers “Paper and paperboard; articles of paper pulp, of paper or of paperboard.” Note 1(h) to chapter 48, HTSUSA, states:

This chapter does not cover: Articles of heading 4202 (for example, travel goods).

Among other goods, heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for attaché cases, 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 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-jacketsetc., 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.

Although the language of heading 4205, HTSUSA (“Other articles of leather or of composition leather”), does not enumerate the book covers, reading jackets, file covers, or documented jackets that are referenced in EN(c) to heading 4202 above, the EN to heading 4205 state, in pertinent part, that the heading includes:
reading-covers for books and other containers (including those wholly or mainly covered with leather or composition leather) not being similar to those specified in heading 4202

Whether the leather folder is prima facie classifiable under heading 4202 or heading 4205, HTSUSA, depends upon whether its primary purpose is to organize, store, protect, and carry various items; or to cover and protect the journal or diary. If it is classifiable under heading 4202, it is excluded from classification under heading 4820, by the legal note to chapter 48, HTSUSA, previously cited. Although the folder has several slots, flaps, and pockets for cards, papers, and other essentially flat, or writing related items, the bulk of the interior volume is found within one open-sided, gusseted pocket which is sized for, and dedicated to enfolding, the bound journal. The leather folder is not intended to carry three dimensional items other than the journal and a pen or pens. In light of the analysis above, we find that the leather folder is not classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUSA. If imported separately, the leather folder would be classified under heading 4205, HTSUSA.

For rulings consistent with this determination, see Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 962757, dated June 21, 2000, and HQ 962227, dated June 7, 1999, in which Customs examined goods which had the character of containers but which lacked similarity to the containers enumerated in heading 4202, HTSUSA. The goods consisted of various tri-fold and bi-fold articles dedicated to covering and protecting bibles or other books (and their related “extras”) under heading 6307, HTSUSA. The covers featured flat pockets, sleeves, flaps, built-in book marks, holders for highlighters and pens, zippered closures, and carrying straps. Each of the Headquarters rulings notes that Customs has long classified “bible book covers” incorporating outer pockets, interior pockets, handles, pen-holder loops and extensive decorative features under heading 6307, HTSUSA (citing New York Ruling Letters (NY) A82707, dated April 25, 1996, NY A83330, dated May 15, 1996, NY A86713, dated August 22, 1996, NY A87823, dated October 1, 1996, NY A88270, dated October 11, 1996, NY B80069, dated October 20, 1997, NY B85128, dated May 15, 1997, and NY C86501, dated April 20, 1998). The two Headquarters rulings also point to additional rulings excluding jacket-like articles from heading 4202, HTSUSA (i.e., HQ 956940, dated November 25, 1994, HQ 960989, dated July 20, 1998, and HQ 961418, dated August 4, 1998). See also, HQ 961021, dated January 5, 1999.

With respect to the classification of jacket-like articles such as the leather folder, when imported with the articles of stationery they cover and protect, we note that Customs has consistently classified such components together under subheading 4820, HTSUSA. For example, in HQ 955522, dated March 23, 1994, Customs classified a burgundy leather agenda with stationery inserts for daily notations, financial calculations, and addresses (held in place with a ring binder) in subheading 4820.10.2010, HTSUSA. Se also HQ 957308, dated April 20, 1995. In the recent decision in The Mead Corporation v. United States, Slip Op. 98-1569 (decided March 8, 2002), however, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) concluded that a “diary” is retrospective, not prospective, and is an item in which to recall and relate past events, not to jot down dates and times of distant appointments, regardless of their importance. The CAFC nevertheless found such multi-component articles to be classifiable under heading 4820, HTSUSA. The Court reclassified, as a matter of law, articles such as those subject to HQ 955522 and HQ 957308, in subheading 4820.10.4000, the provision for articles similar to diaries. In this case, the main components at issue are a permanently bound diary (journal) and a leather, jacket-like folder that covers and protects it. The journal and leather folder are classified in subheading 4820.10.2010, HTSUSA, which provides, in part, for “Registers diaries folders book covers: Registers diaries and similar articles: Diaries, notebooks and address books, bound; , Diaries and address books.”

Finally, when imported with the bound journal and its leather folder, we must consider whether the drawstring bag constitutes a premium form of packaging that may be classifiable with the journal and leather folder pursuant to GRI 5(b). The colors of the bag’s leather tabs, drawstring, fabric, and trim are closely coordinated with the colors and features of the leather folder. We also note that the bag’s printed story line discusses one remarkable “Aunt Clara[who] knew how to write and how to draw[and] filled journals with prose and watercolors and mesmerized us all.” GRI 5(b) states, in pertinent part, that: packing materials and packing containers entered with the goods therein shall be classified with the goods if they are of a kind normally used for packing such goods. However, this provision is not binding when such packing materials or packing containers are clearly suitable for repetitive use.
Since drawstring bags are not necessarily “normally used for packing” leather bound journals and their leather folders, and since the subject drawstring bag is clearly suitable for reuse, it initially appears that GRI 5(b) may not apply to allow the bag to be classified “with the goods” in this case. In HQ 962709, dated December 6, 1999, however, this office concluded that certain decorative glass bottles imported containing flavored oils and vinegar were “ of a kind normally used for packing [their contents]” and the decorative bottles were classified in provisions for other mixed condiments and seasonings and/or vinegar and certain substitutes for vinegar. In HQ 962709, we employed the judicial guidance provided in Crystal Clear Industries v. United States, 18 CIT 47, 843 F. Supp. 721 (1994), in which the Court quoted the following legislative history for the predecessor provision to GRI 5 under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS):

The concept of “usual” containers includes a variety of containers such as plastic envelopes for carrying rainwear when not in use, cases designed for electric shavers, and tobacco tins, which may continue to be used by the purchaser to “house” the original contents but which, when that purpose has been fulfilled, are usually discarded because of their lack of durability or their general unsuitability for other uses. On the other hand, this concept does not include containers, even though sold at retail with their contents, if such containers are designed to have significant uses quite apart from their original contents. For example, humidors filled with tobacco, miniature cedar chests containing cigars or candy, and doll houses filled with confections would not be regarded as [usual] containers. [18 CIT at 52-53, quoting from H.R. Rep. No. 342, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., at 5]

We find that, although it is sturdy and reusable, the drawstring bag, with its color-coordinated features and its journal-related story line, is not designed to have significant uses apart from the journal and its leather folder. It is therefore classified pursuant to GRI 5(b), HTSUSA, with the journal and leather folder in subheading 4820.10.2010, HTSUSA.


The multi-component article (tri-fold leather folder, bound journal, and textile drawstring pouch) identified as the “Journal Wallet” (style LC008), is classified in subheading 4820.10.2010, HTSUSA, the provision for “Registers diaries folders book covers: Registers diaries and similar articles: Diaries, notebooks and address books, bound;, Diaries and address books.” The general column one rate of duty is 0.8 percent ad valorem.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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