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HQ 965103

September 12, 2002

CLA-2: RR:CR:TE 965103 ASM


TARIFF NO.: 4202.32.1000

Ms. Barbara Y. Wierbicki
One Astor Plaza
1515 Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10036-8901

RE: Request for Binding Ruling; “Croco Look 3 Piece Gift Set”; GRI 3(b) Set

Dear Ms. Wierbicki:

This is in response to your request on behalf of your client, Avon Products, Inc., regarding the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated of a vanity purse, wallet, and key fob which have been packaged together and imported for retail sale. Samples have been provided with the request.


The sample is identified as the “Croco Look 3 Piece Gift Set” (style PP 223197) which is packaged in a specially fitted cardboard box and imported together. The items are a lady’s zippered vanity purse of red imitation crocodile (“croco”) embossed vinyl, a wallet of red “croco”, and a key fob which is constructed from a piece of black vinyl attached to a split metal ring. It is our understanding that the actual set to be imported will be made up of matching “croco” embossed imitation leather on all the items in the set. The imitation “croco” leather is made up of fabric backed compact plastic sheeting which is embossed to simulate a crocodile skin. The sheeting of plastic forms the exterior surface of all three articles. Both the vanity bag and wallet are lined with a man-made woven textile fabric. The zippered vanity bag features a single interior compartment. It measures approximately 3.5 inches x 5 inches and is small enough to fit in a handbag. The tri-fold style wallet measures approximately 4 inches x 5 inches when closed and is small enough to fit in a pocket or handbag. The wallet measures approximately 10 inches in length when open and unfolded. The wallet has a snap closure, one exterior pocket with a zipper, substantial interior zipper pocket (approximately 7 inches long), two additional pockets (approximately 7 inches long), fold out panel with credit card holders, plastic window frame for I.D./license, plastic picture insert.


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).

Customs begins by noting that the three subject articles, which have been packaged together for retail sale and importation, are prima facie classifiable in more than one heading. If classified separately, the vanity bag and tri-fold wallet are classifiable in heading 4202, HTSUSA, among other articles, vanity cases and wallets. In accordance with established precedent, the key ring is properly classified in heading 7326, HTSUSA, covering articles of iron or steel wire. See Headquarters Ruling (HQ) 087831, dated November 27, 1990. Thus, we find that these articles cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1.

GRI 2(b) governs the classification of goods when there are mixtures and combinations of materials or substances, and when goods consist of two or more materials or substances. In relevant part, GRI 2(b) states that “The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3.” GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components and 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.

In this case, the headings 4202, and 7326, HTSUSA, each refer to only part of the items in a set put up for retail sale. Thus, pursuant to GRI 3(a), we must consider the headings equally specific in relation to the goods. Accordingly, the goods are classifiable pursuant to GRI 3(b).

It is important to note, that in applying a GRI 3(b) analysis, we have characterized the subject article as a “set” within the meaning of the HTSUSA. The EN for GRI 3(b) states as follows:

(X) For the purposes of this Rule, the term “goods put up in sets for retail sale” shall be taken to mean goods which: consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings. Therefore, for example, six fondue forks cannot be regarded as a set within the meaning of this rule; consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking (e.g., in boxes or cases or on boards).

The “Croco Look 3 piece Gift Set” has been put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking. You have asserted that each article in the set should be separately classified. It is your position that the key ring breaks the GRI 3(b) set analysis because it is not designed to “store, protect and organize” currency and cosmetics. You further assert that the key ring does not serve the same role, purpose or function “vis a vis keys, i.e., to store or protect them, as a key case does.” However, you fail to note that the primary purpose common to all three items of the “Croco Look 3 piece Gift Set” is to transport the user’s personal articles (toiletries, currency, credit cards, license, and keys). All three items are designed to fit compactly within a travel bag or handbag and are designed to store, organize and protect such personal articles. Furthermore, these items are designed to be used together in this activity because they share matching red vinyl “croco” imitation leather and are marketed to the consumer as a three piece “Set”.

Pursuant to GRI 3(b), such goods are to be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character. With respect to determining the essential character of this set, the EN to GRI 3(b) provides the following guidance:

(VIII) 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.

Recently, there have been several Court decisions on “essential character” for purposes of GRI 3(b). These cases have looked to the role of the constituent materials or components in relation to the use of the goods to determine essential character. See, Better Home Plastics Corp. v. United States, 916 F. Supp. 1265 (CIT 1996), affirmed 119 F. 3d 969 (Fed. Cir. 1997); Mita Copystar America, Inc. v. United States, 966 F. Supp. 1245 (CIT 1997), motion for rehearing and reconsideration denied, 994 F. Supp. 393 (CIT 1998), and Vista International Packaging Co., v. United States, 19 CIT 868, 890 F. Supp. 1095 (1995). See also, Pillowtex Corp. v. United States, 98-1227, CAFC, 171 F.3d 1370; 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 4371.

The essential character of the subject merchandise can be determined by comparing each component as it relates to the use of the product. Clearly the wallet is the most substantial of the three articles, and although a component breakdown by value has not been submitted, it is the opinion of this office that the wallet imparts the greatest value. This is based on our estimate of the expense involved in manufacturing a vinyl wallet with two zipper pockets, textile interior, numerous interior pockets, credit card holders, plastic window, and a plastic picture insert, as compared to the manufacturing expenses of a single compartment zippered vanity bag and a metal key ring with vinyl fob.

In view of the foregoing, it is Customs determination that the article is classifiable as a GRI 3(b) “set” within heading 4202, HTSUSA. This office is presently conducting a search to determine if the issuance of this decision will necessitate modification or revocation of prior Customs Rulings, pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)).


The subject merchandise is correctly classified in subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, 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: 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: Of reinforced or laminated plastics.” The general column one duty rate is 12.1 cents/kg + 4.6 percent ad valorem.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director

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