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HQ 965732

September 6, 2002

CLA-2 CO:RR:CR:GC 965732 AML


TARIFF NO.: 8520.90.00

Ms. Lorianne Aldinger
Import Manager
Rite Aid Corporation
P.O. Box 3165
Harrisburg, PA 17105

RE: “Talking photo album”

Dear Ms. Aldinger:

This is in reference to your letter, dated May 23, 2002, to the National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting the tariff classification of a “talking photo album” under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your request was forwarded to this office for reply. Samples were provided for our examination. We regret the delay in responding.


You describe the “talking photo album” as follows:

The item (#929135) to be ruled [upon] will be known as “Talking Photo Album Metal”. This item is a photo album which frames one 5 x 7” print on the cover and 9 self-adhesive pages that measure 9.25” x 6.5” inside and will be available in either Stain Silver Tone Aluminum or Dark Walnut. The special feature of this item is that 11 messages totaling 180 seconds can be recorded to correspond with the photos. This item requires 2 AAA batteries for operation, not included. The composition of the article is 35% aluminum, 35% MDF, 20% plastic and 5% paper[.]


Whether the “talking photo album” is classifiable under subheading 3924.90.55, HTSUS, which provides for other household articles of plastics; under subheading 8306.30.00, HTSUS, which provides for picture frames of base metal, or under subheading

8520.90.00, HTSUS, which provides for other magnetic recording devices?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) to the HTSUS govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states in pertinent part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes[.]”

The 2001 HTSUS headings and subheadings under consideration are as follows:

3924 Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of plastics:
3924.90 Other:
3924.90.55 Other.
8306 Bells, gongs and the like, nonelectric, of base metal; statuettes and other ornaments, of base metal; photograph, picture or similar frames, of base metal; mirrors of base metal; and base metal parts thereof: Statuettes and other ornaments, and parts thereof: 8306.30.00 Photograph, picture or similar frames; mirrors; and parts thereof [.]

8520 Magnetic tape recorders and other sound recording apparatus, whether or not incorporating a sound reproducing device: 8520.90.00 Other.

An article is to be classified according to its condition as imported. See XTC Products, Inc. v. United States, 771 F.Supp. 401, 405 (1991). See also United States v. Citroen, 223 U.S. 407 (1911). In its condition as imported, the “talking photo album” is a composite article prima facie classifiable in part under three separate headings of the tariff: heading 3924, HTSUS, as a household article of plastic, heading 8306, HTSUS, as a photograph, picture or similar frame of base metal, and under heading 8520, HTSUS, as a recording device. Thus, the article is not classifiable at GRI 1. GRI 2 (b) provides in pertinent part that “the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3.” GRI 3(b) provides that “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.”

Thus, under GRI 3(b), classification of the composite article is determined on the basis of the component that gives it its essential character. EN Rule 3(b)(VIII) lists as factors to help determine the essential character of such goods the nature of the materials or components, their bulk, quantity, weight or value, and the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

We are unable to determine the “indispensable function” (See Better Home Plastics. v. United States, 916 F. Supp. 1265 (CIT 1996), affirmed 119 F.3d 969 (Fed. Cir. 1997)) of the “talking photo albums”; that is, we conclude that the three components together impart the essential character to the article. In this matter, the picture frame, the recording device and the photo holders perform complimentary functions for the whole. Therefore we are unable to determine the essential character of the article pursuant to GRI 3(b) and must resort to GRI 3(c), i.e., the goods shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

Heading 8520, HTSUS, which provides for other magnetic recording devices, is the heading that appears last in numerical order among those being considered. The articles will be so classified.

Customs has repeatedly held, pursuant to a GRI 3(c) analysis, that photograph albums with photograph frame covers are not susceptible to an essential character analysis. As the components of the photo albums that house and protect the photographs generally tend to be comprised of plastic or paper and the frames attached thereto tend to be wood, ceramic, or metal, most of these articles are classifiable under the heading that classifies the frame material, as those materials appear later in the tariff than paper and plastic. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 080992, dated March 28, 1989 (heading 8306, HTSUS), New York Ruling Letter (NY) A84408, dated June 20, 1996 (heading 8306, HTSUS), NY C85446, dated March 27, 1998 (heading 4414, HTSUS), NY A85135, dated July 18, 1996 (heading 8306), 886542, dated June 10, 1993 (headings 4414 and 3924, HTSUS), NY F89953, dated August 4, 2000 (headings 4820 and 8306, HTSUS), HQ 955591, dated March 30, 1994 and cases cited therein. This determination comports with the conclusions made in those rulings.


Pursuant to GRI 3(c), the “talking photo albums” are classifiable under subheading 8520.90.00, HTSUS, which provides for other magnetic recording devices. Sincerely,

Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director

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