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HQ 967755

NOVEMBER 18, 2005



TARIFF NO.: 8211.10.0000, 8215.20.0000

Mr. Jack Alsup
Alsup & Alsup
P.O. Box 1251
Del Rio, TX 78841

RE: Cutlery Sets; HQ 087515 Modified

Dear Mr. Alsup:

In HQ 087515, which the U.S. Customs Service, now U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued to you on December 7, 1990, various combinations of knives, forks and storage blocks/sharpening cassettes, represented by four samples, were held to be classifiable in provisions of heading 8211, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as knives with cutting blades, and heading 8215, HTSUS, as forks.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed modification of HQ 087515 was published on September 28, 2005, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 39, Number 40. No comments were received in response to that notice.

The classification expressed for the goods in sample one is correct and is not affected by this decision. The classification for the goods in samples two, three and four is incorrect and CBP is modifying HQ 087515 to insure the consistent classification of this and substantially similar merchandise.


As stated in HQ 087515, sample two consists of a carving knife with 8-inch blade, a utility knife with 4 ¾-inch blade, and a plastic combination storage scabbard/sharpening cassette for each knife containing two angled tungsten carbide sharpening blocks. The knives are sharpened as they are withdrawn through the carbide blocks. Sample three consists of a carving knife and utility knife, as in sample two, a paring knife with 3 1/8-inch blade, a vegetable knife with 6 ¼-inch blade and a chef’s knife with 8 1/8-inch blade, plus a combination sharpening cassette/wooden block with individual slots for each knife. Sample four consists of the carving knife and combination scabbard/sharpening cassette, both described above, plus a carving fork attached to a plastic holder. The fork and all the knives in samples two, three and four are of stainless steel with polypropylene handles.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

3924 Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of plastics:

8211 Knives with cutting blades, serrated or not (including pruning knives), other than knives of heading 8208, and blades and other base metal parts thereof:

8211.10.00 Sets of assorted articles


Other knives having fixed blades:

With rubber or plastic handles:

8211.92.20 Kitchen and butcher knives

8215 Spoons, forks, ladles, skimmers, and similar kitchen or tableware;:

8215.20.00 Other sets of assorted articles


8215.99 Other:


8215.99.20 With rubber or plastic handles


Whether the merchandise is classifiable under subheading 8211.10.00, HTSUS, and under subheading 8215.20.00, HTSUS, as appropriate.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 6 states, in part, that goods are classified in the subheadings of a heading according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, by appropriate substitution of terms, to Rules 1 through 5, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable.

Chapter 82, Note 3, HTSUS, states that sets consisting of one or more knives of heading 8211 and at least an equal number of articles of heading 8215 are to be classified in heading 8215.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. CBP believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

HQ 087515, in part, found that samples two and three constituted “goods put up in sets for retail sale” which, under GRI 3(b), HTSUS, are to be classified as if consisting of the component which gives them their essential character. We affirm that finding. Samples two and three each consist of multiple knives and a storage scabbard/ sharpening cassette. HQ 087515 determined that the knives imparted the essential character to the whole and classified these samples in subheading 8211.92.20, HTSUS, as kitchen and butcher knives. However, in comparing the subheadings of heading 8211 at the 1-dash level under GRI 6, we find that subheading 8211.10, sets of assorted articles, provides a more narrow and specific description for the goods than does Other. This is because the relevant subheading 8211.10 subheading EN states that the scope of that subheading is limited to sets of different knives or sets of assorted articles, in which the knives predominate in number over the other articles. We find that goods represented by samples two and three meet this description and are classifiable in subheading 8211.10.00, HTSUS.

HQ 087515 classified sample four at GRI 1 as sets of assorted articles, in subheading 8215.20.00, HTSUS, based on Chapter 82, Note 3. However, in applying this note, no consideration was given to the plastic scabbard which HQ 087515 found was described by heading 3924, HTSUS, as other household articles of plastic. For this reason, sample four cannot be classified at GRI 1. We conclude that sample four meets the sets criteria in GRI 3(b), as outlined above. However, unlike samples two and three, which contained multiple knives, sample four contains one knife and one fork. Admittedly, while it is the knife that does the actual carving or cutting, the fork is utilized both to stabilize what is being carved and also for serving what the knife carves. We also note that both the knife and the fork are modified by the adjective carving. For these reasons, we conclude that neither the knife nor the fork can be said to be more significant to the set than the other component. GRI 3(c), HTSUS, states that when goods cannot be classified by reference to [Rule] 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration. We conclude that goods represented by sample four are provided for in heading 8215. As HQ 087515 concluded, the good represented by sample four, consisting of a single knife, a single fork and a plastic scabbard/sharpening cassette, meets the terms of subheading 8215.20.00 and is classifiable therein.


Under the authority of GRI 3(b), cutlery sets represented by samples two and three are provided for in heading 8211. They are classifiable in subheading 8211.10.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), at the general, column 1 rate of duty applicable to that article in the set subject to the highest rate of duty.

Under the authority of GRI 3(c), cutlery sets represented by sample four are provided for in heading 8215. They are classifiable in subheading 8215.20.0000, HTSUSA, at the general, column 1 rate of duty applicable to that article in the set subject to the highest rate of duty.


HQ 087515, dated December 7, 1990, is modified accordingly. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Gail A. Hamill
for Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division

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