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HQ 966409

May 11, 2004


Catergory: Classification

Tariff No: 8513.10.20

Neal E. Farr
General Counsel
Sun Manufacturing Corp.
15959, NW, 15th Avenue
Miami, FL 33169

RE: Request for reconsideration in part of NY Rulings I84461, I84485, I84486 and I84711; flashlights with key rings from China.

Dear Mr. Farr:

This letter is in reply to your letter of March 7, 2003, to our National Commodity Specialist Division in which you request reconsideration, in part, of NY Rulings I84461, I84485, I84486 and I84711. Your request has been referred to this office for direct response. We have reviewed the classification in these rulings and have determined that they are correct. This ruling sets forth the correct classification. Samples of the six items at issue were submitted for our examination.


The articles involved consist of small battery operated flashlights with key rings. Items SM-9773, SM-9777, SM-9778 (covered in NY I84485) and SM-9771 (covered in NY I84711) have key rings affixed to the flashlights by metal chains. Pressing down on the plastic housing activates each light. Items SM-9750 and SM-9751 covered in NY I84486 have metal split key rings attached to the flashlights by swivel hooks. An on/off switch activates each light. The illumination produced by the flashlights of all six items, project away from the key rings. We note that, although NY ruling I84461 is cited, the two items covered in the ruling are not listed as being in dispute. You claim that the subject products should be classified in subheading 8513.10.40, HTSUS, the provision for “other” lamps or, alternatively, in subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, the provision for other articles of iron or steel wire for those items with a metal split key ring (SM-9750 and SM-9751).


What is the correct classification for the flashlights with key rings?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the Harmonized System is such that virtually all goods are classified by GRI 1, that is, 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 GRIs may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

7326 Other articles of iron or steel:

7326.20.00 Articles of iron or steel wire

8513 Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy (for example, dry batteries, storage batteries, magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof:


8513.10.20 Flashlights

Other [than flashlights]

GRI 1 provides that articles are to be classified by the terms of the headings and relative Section and Chapter Notes. For an article to be classified in a particular heading, the heading must describe the article, and not be excluded therefrom by any legal note.

The subject articles at issue here consist partly of a small battery operated flashlight and a key ring. As such, the items are not specifically provided for in any one heading. Thus, for tariff purposes, they constitute goods consisting of two or more substances or materials. Accordingly, they may not be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1. Furthermore, GRI 2(a) is inapplicable because it applies to incomplete or unfinished articles, and the flashlights with key rings are imported in a finished complete condition. According to GRI 2(b), the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of GRI 3.

GRI 3(a) states that when, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, that 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. As the subject flashlights with key rings are a composite good, we must apply rule 3(b), which provides that composite goods are to be classified according to the component that gives the good its essential character. We must determine whether the flashlight or the key ring imparts the essential character to these articles.

EN VIII to GRI 3(b) explains that "[t]he 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 the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods." Recent court decisions on the essential character for GRI 3(b) purposes have looked primarily to the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. See Better Home Plastics Corp. v. U.S., 915 F. Supp. 1265 (CIT 1996), aff’d 119 F. 3d 969 (Fed. Cir. 1997); Mita Copystar America, Inc. v. U.S., 966 F.Supp. 1245 (CIT 1997), rehear’g denied, 994 F. Supp. 393 (1998); Vista Int’l Packing Co. v. U.S., 890 F. Supp. 1095 (CIT 1995). See also Pillowtex Corp. v. U.S., 893 F. Supp. 188 (CIT 1997), aff’d 171 F. 3d 1370 (CAFC 1999).

You contend that the articles are not intended to function as portable electric lamps and are not sold for illumination purposes but are primarily offered for sale as a promotional key chain or key ring. You further propound that the light function is purely a decorative feature that serves as an enhancement to a promotional product commonly used in the industry as a key holder to be imprinted with an advertiser’s logo.

We have consistently held that in a composite good such as this one, the flashlight feature imparts the item its essential character. For instance, in HQ 959473 (April 8, 1997), we held that a flashlight with a key ring is not subordinate to the key ring for purposes of determining essential character and is classifiable in subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS. We further held that it is the function of the flashlight that primarily contributes to how the article will be used and that the flashlight imparts the essential character to the article. In HQ 956371 (October 4, 1994), we held that the primary function of a plastic flashlight with a metal key ring is the illumination provided by the flashlights, and therefore, subheading 7326.20.00 is not applicable.

The subject flashlight with key rings are, therefore, classifiable in heading 8513, HTSUS. The issue then arises at the 8-digit level. Flashlights have been defined as small, battery operated, portable electric lights normally held in the hand by the housing. Sanyo Electric Inc. v. United States, 496 F.Supp. 1311, aff’d., 642 F.2d 435 (1981). The primary function of a flashlight is to project a beam of light. Subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, covers flashlights. Subheading 8513.10.40, HTSUS, covers all other portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy. Since the device in question projects a beam of light, is battery-operated and is held in the hand by its housing, it is a flashlight and can not simultaneously be considered something "other than a flashlight." See, HQ 964495 (February 12, 2001). Therefore, as between the two subheadings at issue, only the text of subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, describes the flashlights with key rings and it does so eo nomine.


The flashlights with key rings are classified in subheading 8513.10.2000, HTSUS, the provision for "[P]ortable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy (for example, dry batteries, storage batteries, magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof: [L]amps: [F]lashlight."

The NY rulings are hereby AFFIRMED.

Articles classified under this tariff provision are dutiable at the rate of 12.5 percet ad valorem. Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the Internet at www.usitc.gov.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Director Commercial Rulings Division

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